A pear 1,300 years in the making

pile of pears

These fruits have waxy skins and stems that are too long for their own good. They look like the offspring of apples, guavas and pears. I would have ignored them at the market if it weren’t for my grandmother, a Chinese version of Martha Stewart. She makes her own chili paste and drinks goji berry-logan elixir every day. She introduced me to “hollow” greens (because the stems resemble straws), jujube dates and now, fragrant pears.

fragrant pear

It sounds like a vague description, but that’s their proper name. Farmers have grown these pears in China’s Xinjiang region for 1,300 years, but they’ve only been in the U.S. for about a year. (I discovered these pears right when they came here, but by the time I wanted to write about them, they were out of season. Now I appear out of the loop.)

juicy fragrant pear

Other Asian pears are crunchy and light, but the flesh is gritty and not very sweet. The skin is also thick and bitter. Fragrant pears are even crispier, but they are also sweet. Despite the skin’s appearance, they’re also entirely edible (except for the seeds of course). They are so juicy that you need to slurp quickly after taking a bite.

They are in season now, so head over to your local Chinatown or fancy supermarket. They’re not for the eco-conscious (it takes lots of jet fuel and protective packaging to ship them here), but they are very special.

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4 Comments »

  1. Lisa (Homesick Texan) said,

    Have you tried baking with them, or are they best eaten in their natural state?

    January 11, 2008 at 11:28 am

  2. Cathy said,

    Thanks for the head’s up! I can’t wait to find one.

    January 11, 2008 at 3:23 pm

  3. Kieran said,

    What would I give for some of those here in Dingle!

    January 16, 2008 at 11:38 am

  4. Jessica "Su Good Sweets" said,

    Lisa, I’ve only eaten them raw because I love the crunchy texture.

    January 19, 2008 at 4:51 pm

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