1) NASHI/JAPANESE PEAR
Pyrus pyrifolia is a pear tree species native to China, Japan, and Korea. The tree’s edible fruit is known by many names, including: Asian pear, nashi or nashi pear, African pear, Japanese pear, Korean pear, Taiwan pear, sand pear, apple pear, bapple, papple, bae, li (Japanese: ナシ;Chinese: 梨; Korean: 배). In South Asia, the fruit is known as nashipati or nashpati.
Pyrus pyrifolia is cultivated throughout East Asia, as well as in Australia, India , New Zealand, and other countries. It was recently grown successfully in France and is also sold under the name pf Nashi.
Nashi pears are widely grown for their sweet fruit, a popular food in East Asia. They are sweet on the tree and are eaten crisp.
Nashi pears generally are not baked in pies or made into jams because they have a high water content and a crisp, grainy texture, very different from the buttery European varieties. Also, Nashi pears are not as intensely sweet, having a more refreshing, light taste.
They are grown in various areas in Japan under different cultivar and brand names.
I have the luck to be offered every summer a full box of them coming from Yaizu City where their brand name is “Shinsui”/新水. They are the perfect fruit for a hot summer and have far more value than a whole bottle of soda!
2) Jirou Kaki/Jirou Persimmon
Jirou kaki or Jirou Persimmons are not to be confused with “normal persimmons”, or heart-shaped Hachiya which is the most common variety of astringent persimmon. Astringent persimmons contain very high levels of soluble tannins and are unpalatable if eaten before softening.
The astringency of tannins is removed through ripening by exposure to light over several days, wrapping the fruit in paper for heating it, and/or artificially with chemicals such as alcohol and carbon dioxide which change tannin into the insoluble form. This bletting process is sometimes jumpstarted by exposing the fruit to cold or frost which hastens cellular wall breakdown. These astringent persimmons can also be prepared for commercial purposes by drying.
The non-astringent persimmon, or Jirou kaki, is squat like a tomato and is most commonly sold as fuyu. Non-astringent persimmons are not actually free of tannins as the term suggests, but rather are far less astringent before ripening, and lose more of their tannic quality sooner. Non-astringent persimmons may be consumed when still very firm to very very soft.
Dried Jirou Persimmon
Actually, Jirou Kaki/Jirou Persimmons are the pride of our Prefecture, Shizuoka Prefecture, as they were first grown in 1844 by a farmer called Jiroushi Matsumoto in Mori-Cho, Western Shizuoka Prefecture!
Their trees were finally successfully raised in 1869.
Jirou Persimmon Jam
The persimmons were finally given their name, Jirou Kaki, by the Emperor of Japan upon his meeting with Fujitarou Suzuki (the grower of that time) in Mori-Cho where a Shinto Temple is still dedicated to the Emperor of Japan.
In Shizuoka Prefecture, Jirou Persimmon are found under many guises such as cakes (above)
Jirou Persimmon wine!
Jirou Persimmon vinegar, a rarity created by Bembei Kawamura, the Father of Shizuoka Sake!
It can drunk as a health drink mixed with with good wateror used as a finish on many dishes!
Although I personally like them fresh either as dessert or in salads with vegetables, my favourite is dried persimmons, a big business in Shizuoka Prefecture!
3) PIONE BUDOU-PIONE GRAPES
There are a lot of fruit which either originated or grew to be characteristic of Japan.
I’m trying to introduce into this new series to help my vegan and vegetarian (I’m no) friends in particular as fruit can be adapted into so many ways!
Grapes are relatively new to Japan, but its people have compensated this with an eye to create new strains with great success.
Pione Grapes are grown in aerial style.
Pione Grapes are a typical example.
They are a cross between Kyoho Grapes and Cannon Hole Muscat.
Kyoho grapes (巨峰葡萄) are hemselves a Concord-like cross (Vitis vinifera x Vitis labrusca) between Campbell and Centennial grape varieties.
Kyoho grapes were first produced in 1942 in Shizuoka Prefecture, but were not so named until 1946.
Pione Grapes compared to Muscat Grapes
Pione Grapes (ピオネ葡萄) were also first produced in Shizuoka Prefecture in 1957 by a farmer called Hideo Ikawa.
Pione is an Italian name.
Pione grapes are usually seedless, juicy and very sweet making them very versatile for all kinds of desserts:
A typical Japnese deseert:
Pione Grape inside mochi!
Irresistible, isn’t it?
But Pione Grapes, especially their flesh in “Concasse” style can be used in salads:
A dream salad for vegans!
Pione Grapes flesh on organic “Mizu nasu”/Mizu egg plant sashimi.
This particular kind of (Japanese) egg plant is eaten raw.
A little pepper and voila!