Asian in origin, nashi may have come from east of Eden, but they’re little sweeties which are surely heaven sent. In fact, the big man can keep his apples, as long as we have these pears!
The shape and crunchy texture of apples, combined with the flavour of pears, they are fat-free, high in fibre and vitamin C, with a low calorie count.
First grown in China, Japan and Korea, nashi are available in a number of varieties.
Depending on the variety, they are ready to be picked when yellow or brown in colour, although some varieties remain green. When ripe, nashi should smell strong and sweet, and, when tasted, juicy and sweet with crisp skin similar apples.
Ready for the picking from February to July, fruit can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks (or about a week in a fruit bowl).
Way to grow
Ideally, in New Zealand, nashi trees should be planted in winter, with the fruit ready for harvest from January to July, depending on variety.
Choose a sheltered, cool, free-draining spot. While nashi cope well in wet conditions, they will produce less fruit if the soil is waterlogged.
Dig a hole twice as wide as the tree’s roots, place the tree in the centre of the hole and fill with topsoil. Lightly compact the soil to remove air pockets and water.
Most varieties cannot produce fruit from their own pollen and require cross-pollination with a compatible variety, so bear this in mind when planting.
Once the tree is established, water weekly and apply mulch around the trunk, leaving a clear space. Fertilise with a half cup of plant food per year of age, to a maximum of eight cups per season.
Each year, after the petals fall, prune roughly 10 percent of the tree’s branches to encourage growth. Cut at a 45 degree angle – up and away from the centre of the plant and approximately 6-7mm above the buds.