China Fresh Pear travelled on Silk Road- Fragrant Pear

China Fragrant pears, with  remarkable reputation, had come into market of the United States for the first time.

This pear, same crisp as Asian pears but juicy and sweet like familiar varieties between each other. This pear is originated in the Xinjiang province. The area accounts for only 3 percent of China’s pear capacity, but the variety, which its farmers have been involved in for 1300 years, is esteemed as the country’s most expensive, and it is almost two times price than other pears in China.

The Fragrant pears, which have been exported to the North America since last month, are grown in Xinjiang Province, a site on the ancient Silk Road that is now an oil-rich place with more than 20,000,000 residents. Korla is located in West of the Gobi Desert and north of the Taklimakan Desert,  the city will take  water from the Konqi or Peacock River, which comes from the Tian Shan Mountains.

In recent years Chinese government’s reform for market have push farmers to greatly ramp up pear production, and the output is expected to reach 18 million metric tons in the year of 2018, more than two-thirds of the world’s supply. Virtually all are Asian pears, crunchy and ripe off the tree, not the European kind, such as Bartlett and Bosc, which develop their desired buttery texture and rich flavor after harvest.

China fragrant pears are small  in size with long stems and light green or yellow skin,, is thin and readily edible; the flesh is pretty tender, crisp and  very juicy. The flavor is delicate, and different from that of most Asian pears, with a whiff of the “pear ester,” ethyl decadienoate, which gives European varieties their characteristic aroma. Ready to eat after harvest in September, they can keep in commercial storage for up to a year.

Xinjiang lies at the production of some varieties of Asian pears — which are mostly grown in China, Korea and Japan — and European pears, which evolved later in the Caucasus Mountains and Asia Minor. The original identity of Fragrant pears has long been unclear, and Chinese trade documents states that it resemble the European species. In a paper published in 2002, scientists analyzed the variety’s molecular markers and determined that it is a complex hybrid of the two main European and Asian species, along with Pyrus armeniacifolia, a little-known Xinjiang species with small fruits and leaves similar to apricot foliage.

Xinjiang’s political situation is unstable, as an influx of Han, China’s main ethnic group, has fed separatist agitation and terrorism by the mostly Muslim Uighurs, who are now a minority in their homeland. Korla has long been well-known with its fresh fruit — melons,grapes, and pears.The Chinese government will  relieve economic pressures by promoting exports.

Chinese officials would like to export Fragrant pears to North America in 1995, but American pear growers raised concerns that the imported fruit might introduce exotic plant pests and diseases. Only after repeated investigation by export of Department of Agriculture , pest risk assessments and revisions of inspection procedures made the department grant approval last December.

The only other Chinese pear allowed in the United States is the Ya pear, or duck pear, a major commercial variety that is durable for storage but mediocre, with tough flesh and bland flavor.

Franklin Chen, managing director of BP International, a fruit importer, traveled to Xinjiang twice this year to arrange for shipments of Fragrant pears.

“If I didn’t go, they wouldn’t have sent us the best quality,” he said in an interview in his office in South El Monte, Calif., east of Los Angeles.

The long journey taken by Fragrant pears may not endear them to environmentally conscious shoppers concerned with food miles. Mr. Chan, 29, said that workers at the packing house in Korla use air guns to clean the pears of insects and debris, check them with magnifying glasses, and then cushion them in tissue paper and foam mesh sleeves for the journey ahead: seven days by truck, over small roads as well as highways, to Shenzhen, a port near Hong Kong; two weeks by container ship to Long Beach, Calif.; and another five days by truck to New York.

Several other importers are bringing in the pears, which are available at grocery chains including Hong Kong Supermarkets in New York, 99 Ranch Markets in California and H-E-B stores in Texas; they are also expected to show up soon at fancy New York markets such as Agata & Valentina and Dean & DeLuca.

Knowing that Fragrant pears would soon arrive from China, John M. Wells, co-owner of Viewmont Orchards, in Hood River, Ore., visited China in 2004 and brought back cuttings of the variety, which he intends to propagate and plant next spring.

“I’m trying to figure out whether the tree will grow here,” he said.

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