Subarashii Kudamono, which means “wonderful fruit” in Japanese, is an heirloom grower of Asian Pears in the Berks/Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. For this grower, harvest has begun with great excitement; a banner crop is being harvested and a brand-new variety of Asian Pear!
How did this happen? As Summer waned into fall, Subarashii’s acres of orchards of Asian Pear trees begin to bear fruit. It all started earlier this year during spring as pear buds broke into snowy clusters of white blossoms. Each blossom having the potential of becoming a piece of fruit, once pollinated by orchard bees, promised a bountiful crop five months later. Mother Nature, spring storms and wildlife combined to knock off many of these blooms, leaving behind the hardiest blooms to naturally drop their petals revealing a tiny, baby Asian Pear. This miniature pear, smaller than a French pea, grows and matures from spring until fall, becoming the trademark size of an Asian Pear. Average size of an Asian Pear is four to six inches wide and one to three pounds in weight. Asian Pear enthusiasts wait all year to sink their teeth into the sweet, crunchy, honey-like and oh-so-juicy flavors of Subarashii Kudamono Asian Pears as they become available each fall season.
When asked,”How are the pears doing this year?” the team at Subarashii Kudamono reflects that it’s been a great year thus far. Wet, cool spring, wet and balmy early summer and a fantastic hot, dry spell in August/September are ideal growing conditions. Fruit and trees, nourished by the waters and soft climate conditions of spring, pushed into generating deep, rich and sweet flavors due to the arid conditions experienced in late summer into September is, well, “pear-fection.” What makes this growing year notable for Subarashii is that bloom was several weeks late this year; normally bloom for Asian Pear trees is mid-April.
The orchard team, as many growers do, prefers a late April bloom so as to ensure young blossoms’ survival through the possibility of late spring frosts. However, this year, bloom did not take place until early May. Subsequently, harvest should not have begun until two weeks into September, but the superb growing conditions since spring have accelerated life in the orchard, and the crew actually began some pre-picking at the top of September. Harvest has since hit high gear, and picking is in full tilt as the orchard team moves through the final throes of summer continuing right on into fall.
The team will continue picking through late October or possibly early November. Each Asian Pear variety grown by Subarashii is picked when ripe. These pears are ready to eat when picked! Asaju variety was the first pick of the season, and Atago and SuSan will be the last.
The fruit on the trees is beautiful, and the harvest will be plentiful. One can almost inhale the aroma of the sweet fruit as you walk through the endless rows of trees laden with Asian Pears. This past winter, leading up into spring, the orchard team modified its pruning and thinning regime. The wishful result is more fruit in smaller sizes. Customers, while appreciating the often showboating sizes of Asian Pears, often prefer a smaller, more hand-sized fruit. Subarashii will produce more pears as a result of its tree husbandry efforts. In short, more pears for more people! The Subarashii Kudamono orchard expects to delight all of its online customers this fall and holiday season with gift boxes of Asian Pears shipped to their homes and offices. Subarashii, unlike other farms, aside from growing a most unusual fruit, does not have a farm stand. Instead, it welcomes customers to shop Subarashii on their website/online store: www.wonderfulfruit.com or by phoning or emailing the orchard to place an order.
Subarashii also makes its wonderful fruit available to upscale grocers, health food stores and cheese shops. Subarashii pears can also be found on menus at fine restaurants, farm-to-table restaurants and restaurants in top hotels throughout the Eastern Seaboard; chefs love the flavors of the fruit and enjoy sharing the experience of the fruit with their patrons. Consumers not only appreciate locally sourced foods, but they also enjoy seeing names of area farms cited on their favorite restaurants’ menus as well as seeing how their chefs interpret these fine ingredients into the menu. They know locally sourced is good for the community at large. Asian Pears from Subarashii are particularly delightful on the menu because of the varieties’ diverse range of flavors of Asian Pears grown. Flavor profiles of these pears include lemon, melon, starfruit, apricot, cashew, butterscotch, honey, nectar and more.
Subarashii Kudamono, not only known for being the third largest grower of Asian Pears in the nation, is also run like an estate vineyard in that it grows exclusive varieties of Asian Pears. Just like in the world of grapes or apples, wherein a farm might product merlot or chardonnay grapes or Fuji or Granny Smith apples, Subarashii relishes its unique offerings of nearly a dozen varieties of Asian Pears. Several of these varieties are commonly grown in North America and were selected to be grown in Pennsylvania by Subarashii Kudamono because of the climate and soil. These select varieties are common to the cultural heritage of those who may have grown up in or near Asian countries, a taste of home so to speak. And, simply put, they are just amazing tasting varieties that thrive in Pennsylvania.
The other five exclusive varieties Subarashii grows are completely unique to this unusual Pennsylvania farm. The only place in the world you can get these five exclusive varieties is from Subarashii Kudamono; each variety has been cultivated over decades of hand-pollination and rootstock grafting. Each evolved to appeal to the American palate, sweet and juicy, and each variety is named after one of the owners’ family members. These varieties are: Asaju, JunoSan, LilySan, JunoSan, and EliSan. These patented varieties are most distinctive in their taste and flavor, very popular with Subarashii’s customers.
This 2015 harvest is extra special because Subarashii is unveiling a new variety of Asian Pear, the AnaSan. This brand new Subarashii Kudamono Asian Pear is very sweet, rich in melon-like flavors and laden with aromas of green grass and summer rain. It is very round and has a deep orange/brown skin. Its stem is unusually thick and sturdy, too. AnaSan variety is crisp and extra juicy; one will need a bib to eat it whole! The orchard crew at Subarashii cannot wait to start harvesting this new pear in late September into early October. The team has been secretly taste testing AnaSan during prior harvests during the last several years, and they love its sweetness. This year, Subarashii is ready to share this new pear with the public. To learn more about AnaSan, or to find out how to order once it has been picked, visit wonderfulfruit.com.
Other exciting new offerings from Subarashii include its new “Adopt-A-Tree” program and “Cyber CSA,” which launched earlier this year. You can adopt your own Asian Pear tree, enjoy fruit from your tree and follow its growth through the fall season. Cyber CSA is perfect for those who live in an urban environment, where joining their local CSA is not convenient. These are two great ways to enjoy Subarashii’s fruit in addition to its traditional gift box orders.
Curious to the world of Asian Pears? You can find opportunities to taste these amazing pears and experience more of the spectrum of varieties at various tasting events scheduled throughout the fall in Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC, New York, New Jersey and more. Visit the events pages at both of Subarashii’s websites, www.wonderfulfruit.com and www.winesofsubarashii.com, for more info. One can also keep up to date on all things Asian Pear by signing up for Subarashii’s newsletter (once a month, new recipes, what’s happening in the orchard and free shipping specials) or you can find/follow Subarashii on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. You can also browse www.wonderfulfruit.com to read more about the pears and order a box for yourself. These pears are so delicious you won’t wish to share them! Better than candy any day of the week.