October harvest baskets at the Original Santa Rosa Farm Market overflow with sweet bounty: apples, figs, grapes, melons, Asian pears, and pomegranates. Most of the fruit we bring home are eaten fresh and raw, after a few days on the kitchen counter to come to perfect ripeness.
As a photographer-gardener, my eye is always alert for beautiful, interesting, or unusual produce. And those items are set aside for their portrait sessions before any nibbling or cooking can be done.
I’m also VERY interested in where fruits originate, curious about different cultivars, enjoy identifying ones with the best flavor (texture and fragrance), and which hybrids grow best in our climate….one of my fantasies is having a small backyard orchard one day.
Asian Pears of Merit
Only a few Asian pears meet my standards of edible delight, at least the of ones I’ve tasted. Years ago, a biodynamic gardening client of ours shared an incredibly delicious Asian pear: sweet, flavorful, crunchy, juicy, and beautiful! Unfortunately, I don’t recall now which hybrid it was.
Last year at the farmers market, I discovered 20th Century Asian Pears, a wonderful fresh eating variety. I’m not alone in rating this particular ‘apple pear’ highly ~ it’s a taste test winner in many trials.
20th Century Asian Pear ~ Juicy, sweet, mild-flavored fruit is crisp like apple. Keeps well. Easy to grow, heavily bearing, small tree. 450 chill hrs. Though self-fruitful, Asian pears produce more fruit if cross pollinated with another variety. Hosui is a good choice. Or Shinseiki, Bartlett, or other pear or Asian pear will increase the yield.
Hosui Asian Pear ~ High-scoring in taste tests: is the best Asian pear in some folks’ opinions. Large, juicy, sweet, flavorful, refreshing, crisp like an apple. Brownish-orange russet skin. 450 chill hours. Best pollinated by Shinko, Bartlett, or 20th Century.
Matt Bunch, speaking about the Harvest Garden Horticulturist collection at Kansas City’s botanical garden ranked ‘New Century’ Asian Pear as the best for productivity, flavor and the right sized fruit; but noted…for the most part they all were good!
Reading the Powell Garden’s blog, I learned most Asian pears have a narrow semi-vertical crown of branches making them easy to fit into smaller suburban gardens. The trees also offer garden worthy ornamental traits: beautiful spring flowers, attractive bark, and colorful autumn leaves.
JONAGOLD Apples (Malus domestica)
JonaGolds were featured in my Apple Diva series (article #1). Jonagolds, as you apple aficionados may know, are a hybrid cross between ‘Jonathan,’ a vintage heirloom apple variety, and the ever popular ‘Golden Delicious’ apple, which really ARE delicious if you grow or buy the older types from local apple growers. Read more in our article: Autumn Bounty: Heirloom Apples to New Hybrids.
The Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between 15 and 25 feet tall. Native to the area of modern day Iraq and Iran, the pomegranate has been cultivated since ancient times. From there it spread to areas in Asia like the Caucasus (southern Russia) and Himalayan (northern India) mountain regions. Today, it is widely cultivated throughout the Mediterranean area of southern Europe, the Middle East, northern and tropical Africa, Indian subcontinent, and the drier parts of southeast Asia. Introduced into Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in 1769, pomegranates are also cultivated in parts of Arizona.
In the Northern Hemisphere, pomegranates are typically in season from September to February. This particular red pomegranate I know little about…and haven’t tasted it, yet. Forgot to ask Brenda, one of our favorite vendors, what variety it is.
Pomegranates are packed with anti-oxidants and Vitamin C, providing about 16% of an adult’s daily vitamin C requirement per 100 ml serving of juice. The fruit is a good source of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium and and flavanoids, the tart flavor and bright red hue being a hint of their nutritional benefits. Pomegranates are listed as high-fiber in some nutritional charts. That fiber, however, is entirely contained in the edible seeds which also supply unsaturated oils. People who choose to discard the seeds forfeit nutritional benefits conveyed by the seed fiber, oils and micro nutrients.
Pomegranates and their interesting cultural and culinary history will be featured in a FWB article before winter is over…so keep an eye out for it.
Photo: 20th Century Asian pear blossom ~ Copyright © 2011 Kansas City’s botanical garden / http://powellgardens.blogspot.com/2011/04/peak-of-spring-in-flowers.html
Photo: Hosui Asian pear blossom ~ Copyright © 2012 Portland Monthly Magazine / http://www.portlandmonthlymag.com/home-and-garden/plantwise/articles/fruit-tree-giveaway-april-2012#comments