What is the local super citrus “Hebes”? Young Hinata producers sweat to spread

The local citrus tree “Heves” faces the risk of disappearing

Hebeth has a thin peel, so it contains a large amount of juice. When cut out, mild sour water overflows and emits a refreshing aroma. It is believed to have carcinogen-blocking and cancer-blocking effects, and it is also an attractive ingredient as it is highly nutritious, including 8 out of 9 amino acids. necessary.

The unique name comes from a local farmer named Chosou Gabe Heibei, who discovered something that grows naturally in the mountains at the end of the Edo period. It originated in the land, and Heves’ sapling custom when marrying a daughter became popular, and it became popular among the inhabitants. The annual output of each province is about 6,000 tons for Kavos and Sudachi, while Hebes is 150 tons. Almost all of them are grown in Hinata city, which has a population of 60,000, and only 10 tons are distributed outside the province. It is a “regional treasure” that everyone in the know knows.

Heves, on the other hand, is in the danger of disappearing. Of the 80 Hebeth farmers in Hinata City, only 4% are producers in their 20s and 40s. With the aging of bearded bearers, yields also decline. There are local producers that are actively promoting activities to protect such Hebes and disseminate it outside the province.

Efforts by young producers to enhance their own value

It is Hiroto Kuroki, a 10th generation farmer in Shiomi district, Hinata city, who is young but passionate about Heves sales and PR expansion. Mr. Kuroki left Miyazaki at the age of 20 and took a job related to architecture in Osaka and elsewhere. Hebeth, who has known him since he was a child, said, “I’m amazed that people out of town don’t know that at all.” After learning a career in horticulture and hydroponic horticulture at a vocational school in Shiga prefecture, rooted in a love for interior leaf trees, which he mentioned at work, he started farming at the age of 24.

In honor of the local Hebes variety, 700 Hebes were planted while cherry tomatoes and the main zucchini.

“Low market prices” (Mr. Kuroki) are believed to be the main cause of Heves’ decline. Although the price is as low as 300-400 yen / kg, it can take 4 years from planting to harvest and 10 years before full yield can be ensured, which are some of the obstacles for farmers. new. Will be given. Heves is in season from June to October, but the dark green cuticle ripens and turns yellow from mid-October. You can eat it in both states, but the market decided to sell it in blue, so you cannot sell ripe Heves. Because the shell is thin, the juice is very easy to squeeze, but there is a weakness that cannot be preserved.

Hiroto Kuroki says he wants you to taste the ripe Heves

The goal of the activity was to add value to Hebes, improve farmers’ income and prevent yield reductions.
Together with his friends, he is enthusiastic about popularizing, such as promoting the project to plant seedlings on abandoned farmland, regularly visiting Tokyo and promoting Heves at events. At the event, they are prepared as a set with Kabos and Sudachi, and they are devising ways to convey the goodness of Heves, such as letting them taste their personal taste by eating and comparing.

“If it can be sold alongside other high-acid citrus fruits, you will be able to choose Hebes because of the rarity of the native species,” Kuroki said.

“Regional treasures” have begun to shine in Tokyo

It was Hebeth’s boom in Kichijoji, Tokyo that made Kuroki realize the potential of Hebeth. When the pub owner offered him a souvenir Hebeth, given to him by someone from Hinata City, named “Hebeth Sour”, it was warmly received. Now it can be drunk at about 50 stores in Kichijoji, and it’s a secret specialty.

It is said that “orchid as an ingredient for drinks” is ideal because it consumes a lot of food and makes people feel the appeal of the ingredients.
The boomers set up the specialty wholesaler Hebes in Tokyo. Contract farmers in Hinata City, such as Mr. Kuroki, will pay about 2 tons. Mr. Kuroki listened to the restaurant’s needs and caught their attention, selling not only the status quo but also the whole piece.
Wholesale companies are currently trading from 1,600 yen a kg. The sleeping area treasures have been polished and shined in Tokyo.

Add food culture by using highly acidic citrus

A year ago, an old private house next to the field was renovated and the cafe “morimichi” opened. Furniture and interiors are handcrafted by Mr. Kuroki, and it’s a space where you can relax while making you feel special everywhere. We are focused on getting used to them in ways that are easy to enjoy, such as offering Hebes-used drinks and selling Heves jams and dried fruit. In the future, we will accelerate popular activities such as planting of Hebes seedlings outside of Hyuga City with fellow farmers. “I want to do a job that could leave Heves 100 years from now,” Kuroki admires.

In addition to his goal of increasing the output of Hebes, Mr. Kuroki said, “I want to spread the culinary culture that uses high acid citrus fruits.” Delivers the delicacy of any ingredient like meat and fish. “You can grate it and use it as a medicinal product. You can alter the dish with a little effort.”

The citrus fruits on the plate can be a symbol of Japan’s rich culinary culture. Heves is showing a strong presence from Hinata City. Soon it will appear on tables across the country.