Pyrus pyrifolia is a species of pear tree native to East Asia. The tree's edible fruit is known by many names, including: Asian pear, Chinese pear, Korean pear, Japanese pear, Japanese Apple Pear, Taiwanese pear, and sand pear. Along with cultivars of P. × bretschneideri and P. ussuriensis, the fruit is also called the nashi pear. Cultivars derived from Pyrus pyrifolia are grown throughout East Asia, and in other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Traditionally in East Asia the tree's flowers are a popular symbol of early spring, and it is a common sight in gardens and the countryside.
With the crunch and shape of an apple, the grainy texture of a common pear, and the juicy notes of a pineapple, the lightly sweet Asian pear is a welcome addition to market bins from July to early fall.
The fruits are not generally baked in pies or made into jams because they have a high water content and a crisp, grainy texture, very different from the European varieties. They are commonly served raw and peeled. The fruit tends to be quite large and fragrant, and when carefully wrapped (it has a tendency to bruise because of its juiciness), it can last for several weeks or more in a cold, dry place.
There are 3 types of Asian pears. They are 1) round or flat fruit with green to yellow skin, 2) round or flat fruit with bronze colored skin and a light bronze russet, 3) pear shaped fruit with green or russet skin. Varieties are listed in order of ripening.
1. Ichiban Nashi - An early maturing, large, brown fruit ripening in mid-July ahead of Shinseiki, Shinsui and Kosui. Fruit appears to have tender skin subject to injury during harvest and packing.
2. Shinsui - An early maturing, brown fruit with reasonable size, ripening in mid-July after Ichiban Nashi and before Shinseiki. Tree is extremely vigorous requiring special training to spread the tree shape.
3. Kosui - A small, flat, bronze russet, early maturing, sweet fruit with a tender skin that ripens in mid-July. A strong growing tree with leaves sensitive to 2-spot spider mites and many sprays.
4. Shinsieki - A round, yellow skinned, firm fruit that is early-maturing (late July) plus it stores well up to three months. In appearance it resembles 20th Century but is larger in size. Fruit holds on the tree well and is often color-picked four times per season.
5. Hosui - A very large, juicy, sweet, low acid, bronze-skinned pear that ripens in early August. The tree is extremely vigorous on P. Betulaefolia and has a wild, loose growth habit. This is a very popular new variety in Japan and California. It is usually very susceptible to fire blight.
6. Kikusui - A flat, yellow-green, medium - sized fruit with excellent flavor but a reputation for having tender skin and poor color. It ripens in mid-August but fruit has preharvest drop problems.
7. Yoinashi - A large, brown-skinned fruit with excellent flavor. It ripens in mid-August with 20th Century but sizes much better.
8. 20th Century (Nijisseki) - This is the best flavored and most popular Asian pear in Japan and California. It originated in Japan in about 1900 and was responsible for the high popularity of pears in Japan. It is round, yellow-skinned, easily bruised, but stores well up to six months. The fruit is more difficult to size than other varieties. It should not be grown on P. Communis rootstock because it is badly dwarfed. The fruit ripens in mid-August. It grows well on P. betulaefolia, P. calleryana, and P. serotina. Old trees need spur removal and rejuvenating pruning to maintain fruit size.
9. Chojuro - An old, firm, brown-to orange-skinned, flat-shaped, highly productive variety is losing popularity because it is not as juicy as many newer varieties. It matures in mid-August, bruises easily but stores for five months. It must be picked when first yellow-brown in color or fruit is subject to severe bruising and skin discoloration.
10. Shinko - The fruit is large and round to slightly flattened with a beautiful bronze-russet skin. Fruit flavor is excellent in hot climates but the fruit stores poorly and tree growth and vigor decline severely as the tree ages. It is very upright in growth habit. The tree is well shaped and extremely productive. It matures during the first week of September and appears to be nearly resistant to fire blight.
11. Nitaka - A very large, firm, brown-russet fruit. It is noted for its large size, average flavor and high production. The tree is dwarfed severely on P. communis and vigorous on P. betulaefolia. Fruit ripens in early September and stores two months. The flowers are pollen-sterile but it sets well when cross-pollinated with most varieties.
12. Ya Li - A popular Chinese variety, is pear-shaped, has green skin and is quite tender to bruising. It is an early blooming variety that needs cross-pollination by other early flowering varieties like Tsu Li and Seuri. The flavor is sweet and milder than other varieties. It is the most important pear variety in China. It stores well.
13. Tsu Li - A large, football-shaped, green fruit of only fair quality. It has long storage life (six to ten months) and gets better the longer it is stored. The fruit ripens in early to mid-September and develops a greasy feel on the skin. It must be pollinated by Ya Li.
14. Dasui Li and Shin Li - New patented U.C. hybrids, very large fruit, greenish to yellow in color. They ripen in late September and early October and store well at 32 degrees F. Trees are extremely vigorous and pollinate each other. For good crops, limited pruning is essential.
15. Okusankichi - This is an old Korean and Japanese variety that ripens in October and stores well. The fruit is brown-russet, somewhat elongated and slightly irregular in shape. At harvest it has only fair flavor, but flavor improves in storage
Selection and Storage
1. Fresh pears can be readily available in the stores. While Bartlett variety is a predominant variety during summer, Comice, Seckel, etc. are chief fall-season pears. Asian pears are generally ready to harvest by August and made available in the stores by September.
2. Choose fresh, bright, firm textured fruits with rich flavor. Avoid those with pressure marks over their surface as they indicate underlying mottled pulp. Some fruits, especially the Asian varieties may feature rusted speckles over their skin, which otherwise, is an acceptable characteristic.
3. Keep unripe pears in a basket with separate chambers at room temperature or wrap in paper to ripen as you do in papaya. The fruit is ripe once it yields to gentle pressure, and ready to be eaten.
4. Eat them while they are fresh to get maximum nutrient benefits. Otherwise, keep them inside the refrigerator where they will remain fresh for a few days
Preparation and Serving tips
Wash them in clean running cold water before use to remove any surface dirt and pesticide/fungicide residues.
Trim both ends using paring knife and cut into two equal halves. Take out centrally placed small seeds. Slice the fruit into desirable cubes or chunks.
As in apple, sliced fruit pieces turn brown on exposure to air due to conversion of iron from ferrous oxide to ferric oxide. If you have to serve them sliced, rinse slices in acid-water added with few drops of fresh lemon.
Since several of the vitamins and minerals are concentrated in significant quantities just underneath the skin, pears should be eaten as a whole along with its skin to get maximum benefits.
Here are some serving tips:
Eat them as they are without any additions to get maximum health benefits.
Pear is also used in the preparation of fruit juice
(also see here
), jam, chips
, galette, tart ( also see here)
and fruit salad
, and green salad
, Wrapped slaw
Dried pear slices can be added to baby food.
A relative of European pear varieties like Bartlett and Anjou, the Asian pear is great used in recipes or simply eaten out of hand. It retains a crispness that works well in slaws
) and salads, and it holds its shape better than European pears when baked and cooked.
In cooking, ground pears are used in vinegar- or soy sauce-based sauces as a sweetener, instead of sugar. They are also used when marinating meat, especially beef.
Although Asian pears have firm flesh, they’re also extremely juicy and when cooked tend to give off more liquid than apples or pears do. Their mild flavor goes well with a variety of ingredients from the global pantry; pair them with ginger, star anise, soy sauce, five-spice powder, or even curry powder. We especially love them sautéed and served with pork, puréed in velvety soups, pickled
, quinoa with pear
) or for a special treat, infused with spices and honey as a warm, steamed-pear
, poached (also see )
( also see
), heady pancake and waffle topping.
Pears are rich source of dietary fibers, vitamins C and K and minerals such as copper and potassium.
Due to high content of vitamins, pears can improve functioning of the immune system. High content of dietary fibers facilitate digestion, and high content of sugar increases energy levels. Pear increases absorption of calcium and can aid in the prevention of osteoporosis.Interesting facts about Asian pear
Asian pears were cultivated in China as early as 1134 B.C. Chinese people believe that sharing of pear may disturb relationship between friends or lovers. Pears are symbol of immortality in China.
In Japan about 500,000 tons are grown and some fruit is exported to the United States in October and November. China and Korea also grow these pears for domestic consumption and export to the United States and Canada.
Pear leaves were used for the preparation of cigarettes, before tobacco became popular.
Pear can grow to the height of 39 to 49 feet. It has pyramid-shaped crown.More Information about Asian pear
Due to their relatively high price and the large size of the fruit of cultivars, the pears tend to be served to guests, given as gifts, or eaten together in a family setting.
In Korea, the fruit is known as bae, and it is grown and consumed in great quantity. In the South Korean city of Naju, there is a museum called The Naju Pear Museum and Pear Orchard for Tourists.
Asian pears have been grown commercially in Asia for centuries.