Lifestyle



We explored 10 of the 30 native fruits in the last article. Most of the last 10 fruits are available in most time of the years, and you’ve probably tasted them in the past. The next 10 native fruits are similar in sizes and are available only at certain period of time.

11. Chinese Pear (唐梨)
With varieties native to China, Japan and Korea, the most famous types are "Bretschneider pear" from Tianjin, "Laiyan pear" from Shandong and "Sand pear" from Canton. They are normally cultivated under high altitudes with cold climates and harvested during autumn. It is a popular fruit in Hong Kong renowned for its refreshing sweetness and juicy taste. Its sweetness is derived from its sorbitol content, a sugar alcohol that is laxative and can relieve laryngitis.

In Chinese culture, Chinese pear is often cooked as a soup for moistening lungs and clearing lung heat, cough and phlegm. One common soup is made easily by boiling the pear with lily flower, Chinese almonds, white fungus, water chestnuts and radix ophiopogonis. Another common one is a sweet soup made by simmering Chinese pear with fritillary bulbs and rock sugar. For people who have spleen and stomach cold deficiency, loose stools, diarrhea or nagging cough due to colds, they should not eat Chinese pear until they’re fully recovered.

12. Passion fruit (百香果/熱情果)
Originated from South America, it is one of the easiest crops to cultivate. It can grow easily in warmer areas that have good drainage. With a ripening time around midsummer, its sweet flesh and seeds are often added to summer treats like desserts or drinks in Hong Kong. Its juice can be easily squeezed or extracted using filters, where they can be stored in the fridge and served in iced tea or water.

There are two general types of passion fruit that are different in appearance. Both types have green skin that turns either yellow or dark purple at maturity. They are a good source of flavonoids, which is known for relieving stress and anti-aging.

13. Common Fig (無花果)
As a summer fruit that ripens between July and September, its taste is similar to strawberries and peaches. Its skin and flesh color differ among varieties ranging from yellow to green to purple skin and different tones of red flesh. With great nutritional value, it is eaten fresh or dry.

Common Fig is one of the highest fruit sources of nutrients including calcium, fiber, carbohydrates, protein, minerals and fructose. It is known for its antioxidants for improving health. In modern medicine, common fig is proved to have anti-cancer properties. In Chinese medicine, it is known to have cooling properties for improving and strengthening spleen, lungs, stomach and large intestines. It can also help relieve swelling, detoxification, moisten lungs, clear the pharynx, moisten the intestines and free the stool.

14. Persimmon (柿)
As an edible fruit of a deciduous tree, with heights up to 10 meters, it is native to China.

In general, there are two types of persimmon: non-astringent and astringent. Non-astringent persimmons are eaten fresh with the most popular variety named "Fuyu persimmon"; it is sweet and squat like a tomato. Astringent persimmons are often made into other forms. For example, "Water persimmon" or "Hard persimmon" that are preserved in limewater for removing bitterness; "Soft persimmon" or "Nim persimmon" that are smoked; and "Shibing" that is peeled, flattened and dried.

According to Chinese medicine, it has cold properties that can moisten lungs and dissolve phlegm. It can help regenerate body fluids and quench thirst. Perismmon is not recommended for those with iron-deficiency anemia, and it should not be consumed with an empty stomach or together with seafood or foods that are very sour or of cold properties.

15. Star Fruit (楊桃)
Also known as "Carambola", it is a fruit native to Southeast Asia. It is available locally from September to April, with two common varieties that are juicy and distinct in taste and size. One is more sour and has a smaller size, while the other is bigger and sweeter. In Hong Kong, it is commonly eaten fresh or cooked with fish in soup.

In Chinese medicine, star fruit is known to have the ability to quickly replenish body fluids and physical strength. However, it is not recommended for nephritis patients. It can also help regenerate body fluids, quench thirst, clear internal heat and eliminate fatigue.

16. Chinese plum (李子)
Formerly called "Prunus salicina", it is one of the specialty fruits in the Southern China. In the past, Chinese plums used to be a popular item at fruit stands. With the growing variety of fruits, they are now only available locally in a few markets. "South China Li" is the most common variety sold, which has a unique sweet and sour aroma. It is very juicy and usually green in color, but will turn red within one or two days after picking at room temperature. It is loaded with great health benefits; including potassium, iron, as well as carotene and pectin that can help beautify the skin and eliminate constipation.

17. Green Plum (青梅)
With a shape like an apricot, green plum is very astringent and can’t be eaten unripe, as it might give you cramps. However, you can safely eat them in other forms, such as salted or preserved prune candy and jam. Its juice is often extracted for making refreshing summer beverages or plum wine. No matter what form of green plum you eat, it is considered to be very good for your health. It can promote various healthy functions, including fatigue elimination, gastrointestinal function improvement and sterilization.

18. Yumberry (楊梅)
Formerly called "Myrica rubra", it is normally called "Yangmei" (楊梅) in Chinese. It is native to southern China and a lookalike of lychees. In crimson to dark purple-red color, it has a sweet and sour taste that is often eaten fresh, or as dried fruit or juice.

Similar to lychee, yumberry is grown in small to medium-sized evergreen trees and known to give internal "heat" in Chinese medicine. When consumed in fair quantities, it is said to aid digestion, improve overall gastrointestinal health, produce body fluids to quench thirst, stop vomiting and relieve diarrhea with astringents. However, it is believed that eating too many yumberries may injure teeth and tendons.

19. Pomegranate (紅石榴)
Belonging to a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree that ripens in August and September, it is originated from the arid and semi-arid of Mediterranean and Central Asia region. Its size is like an orange, with skin that ranges from yellow through to browns and reds; inside it is divided into chambers containing veins and red astringent pulp. The pulp has a sweet and tart taste, with each surrounding a long and angled seed. They are commonly eaten fresh or added to dessert style foods.

Pomegranate has been cultivated since ancient times, so it has been long used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is an astringent to the intestine that can help relieve diarrhea. It can regenerate body fluids, quench thirst and stop bleeding. It is antidiarrheal, hemostatic, anthelmintic, antibacterial and antiviral with anthocyanin and phenolic antioxidants. Due to its "heat" property for giving internal heat, it produces phlegm and can cause teeth loss if eaten excessively.

20. Guava (番石榴)
Guava is a fruit of an evergreen shrub or small tree that is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions. It is a superfruit rich in vitamins A and C. With various cultivars ranging in size from as small as an apricot to as large as a grapefruit, their pulps are white, yellow or red in color with white, green or red skin.

New improved varieties continue emerging in recent years. The most popular grown in many local farms of Hong Kong is "Taiwan guava". "Pearl Taiwan guava" or "Milk Taiwan guava" are two common versions. They are large in size with crisp texture pulp, but they lack enticing scent. For rich aroma and taste, a mainland version named "Carmine guava" is also available in local markets. This variety has pink flesh, smaller in size with more seeds.

As we are entering the month of September, most of these fruits are coming into season. This is definitely a good time to visit your local fruit stands and experience these tastey treats. You can also mix them in different combinations and create your own “locally-produced-seasonal-fruit bowl”! Stay tuned for more fruity experience! 10 more to go in Part 3!



Chinese Content is an excerpt of Ophelia Chan's book "真味良食"