Featured today is Aomori’s original cherry, Juno Heart, which made its debut in 2020, after being in development for more than 20 years.
What Kind of Cherry is Juno Heart?
No.1 The Surprising Size!
Sato Nishiki is considered to be a large type of cherry ranging from L size (over 22mm diameter) to 2L size (over 25mm in diameter). Juno Heart’s average size is 3L (over 28mm in diameter), and can be as large as 4L (over 31mm in diameter) and 5L(over 34mm in diameter).
No.2 A Refined Sweetness!
The sugar content of Sato Nishiki and other common cherries is said to be around 16 to 18 degrees, but Juno Heart surpasses this by around 20 degrees. Juno Heart also has a less acidic taste, which gives a fine sweet flavor.
No.3 The Cute Heart Shape
The most distinctive feature of Juno Heart is its heart shape. It is also the origin of the name Juno Heart!
The Journey to the Creation of Juno Heart
Aomori Prefecture, a Producer of Cherries
Cherry cultivation in Aomori has flourished in tandem with apple cultivation, mainly because cherry trees were planted near apple trees as a windbreaker to protect the apples from the wind. As cherries are less susceptible to the effects of the cold seasonal wind “Yamase,” cultivation of cherries has progressed mainly in the southern region of Aomori Prefecture.
“Juno Heart” has been the subject of crossbreeding and breeding research since 1997 at the Aomori Prefectural Industrial Technology Center’s Apple Research Institute, located in Gonohe Town, Aomori Prefecture. Juno Heart is the result of crossing “Benishuho,” which has a strong reputation for sweetness and flavor, with “Summit,” which is native to Canada and has large fruit and flesh that easily detaches from the seed. Research focused to produce the desired color, size, and flavor.
Lucky Cherry, Juno Heart
In May 2005, a wildfire broke out in the vicinity of the Aomori Industrial Technology Center’s apple research center, resulting in a massive fire that destroyed more than 2/3 of the trees under its care. The fire came within three trees of the original trees, but thankfully they were unscathed. Since then, Juno Heart is known as the “lucky cherry.”
Although the lucky original tree has now completed its role in cultivating the variety, it still quietly blossoms and bears fruit every year in the Center’s Fruit Tree Department.
Given these accounts of lucky cherries, the name “Juno Heart” was coined by combining “Juno,” the Roman goddess of family happiness, and the fruit’s heart shape.
“Aomori Heart Beat”, the Best of Juno Heart
Among Juno Hearts, those that are 4L size or larger and are recognized by quality inspection as having “excellent coloring and heart shape” are sold under the name “Aomori Heart Beat,” the best of Juno Hearts.
At one of the first auction, the price per fruit reached 40,000 yen.
“Juno Heart” and “Aomori Heart Beat” can be purchased from mid-June to mid-July at department stores in Aomori Prefecture and the Tokyo metropolitan area. For sales locations and Juno Heart topics, please visit the official website.