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Nakh pears range from small to medium in size and vary in shape from round, globular, conical and squat, to oval with a bulbous base that tapers into a rounded neck. The firm skin can be golden yellow, green, or bronze and may be smooth, have some russeting, or covered in visible lenticels or pores. The flesh is ivory to white and is crunchy, juicy, and creamy with a central fibrous core encasing several small, brown-black seeds. When ripe, Nakh pears are crisp with a sweet, floral flavor, low acidity, and a fragrant aroma.
Nakh pears are available in the late summer through winter.
Nakh pears, botanically classified as Pyrus pyrifolia, are a hard pear variety that are members of the Rosaceae family along with apples and peaches. Nakh pears are known by many different names including the Chinese Sand pear, Apple pear, Patharnakh, and Gola pear, and these names are used to describe thousands of different known Asian pear varieties, each varying slightly in shape and color. The word Nakh is most commonly used in India, and Nakh pears are favored for their crisp, juicy flesh and are used as fresh eating fruit. Unlike regular pears, Nakh pears ripen on the tree, are only picked and sold when ripe, and maintain their crisp texture long after being picked.
Nakh pears contain dietary fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
Nakh pears are best suited for raw applications as their crunchy texture, and sweet flavor is showcased when consumed fresh, out-of-hand, and the flesh does not turn brown when sliced. They are commonly added to green salads, cubed for fruit salads, displayed on cheese boards with other fruits and nuts, grated into coleslaw, or sliced into stir-fries. Nakh pears can also be chopped and added to holiday stuffing, sautéed with cinnamon to serve atop pork chops, slow cooked to make a sweet sauce for short ribs, served in mulled white wine or a warm pear toddy, or hollowed out and stuffed with dried fruit and nuts for a baked treat. Their sweet flavor and juiciness will add moisture and flavor to cakes, pies, crisps, pudding, muffins, and quick bread. They can also be canned or preserved for later use and will hold their shape well. Nakh pears compliment cashews, blue cheese, manchego cheese, red onion, scallions, garlic, leafy greens, celery, fennel, sweet potato, salmon, lime, blackberries, raisins, nut butter, honey, sesame oil, shiso, miso, and daikon. They will keep 10-14 days when stored at room temperature and up to three months when stored in the refrigerator.
Beginning in the 1950s, Nakh pears have been growing in popularity as a commercial crop in India. Cultivated in the Punjab region of northern India, there are an estimated 5,000 hectares of land being used to cultivate the variety. Nakh pears grow well in the Punjab region’s climate as they require a low amount of chilling hours, are large fruits with a long storage life, and the trees are heavy bearers. In India, Nakh pears are most commonly consumed fresh, out-of-hand.
Nakh pears are native to Japan and China where they have been grown for over 3000 years. They were then spread to the rest of Asia via merchants and traders. In the mid-1800’s Nakh pears made their way to the United States via Chinese and Japanese immigrants and today, Nakh pears can be found at farmers markets and specialty grocers in Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Canada.
Recipes that include Nakh Pears. One is easiest, three is harder.
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