The "Frozen pear" is a unique Chinese delicacy that is very popular in the Northeast of China, which is truly a special local cuisine. There are lots of extraordinary foods that look bland in appearance, and the "frozen pear" is one of those many. The "frozen pear" is covered by a black surface, with snow and ice on top. The real reason behind the black surface of the "frozen pear" is that the cell structures have been damaged by the blistering cold. The polyphenol oxidase becomes reactive under such cold, and it acts as catalyst within the polyphenol synthesis process to form the colour that we see.
The history of the "frozen" pear dates back to the Liao Dynasty, as a classic delicacy eaten by the Khitan tribes in the Northeastern region of China. One folklore is that there used to be some fruits on the trees that had not yet been picked by the people, and they were frozen on the trees. People did not have much alternatives in the winter, so they picked them and soaked them in warm water after they arrived home, just to find out such fruits were surprisingly pleasing in taste! Another folklore claimed that the Northeastern region of China has enjoyed abundance in production of autumn pears, yet these autumn pears are often too sour to eat when they become freshly ripe. The wise people of Northeastern China discovered that such fruits would taste even better if they undergo a "post-ripen" process, so the fruits are placed in containers for a certain period of time after being picked. The "frozen pears" benefit from the freezing temperature, which inhibits the growth of microorganisms and decomposition of enzymes, leading to a preservative effect on the fruits as the nutritional values are well preserved.
It would be easy to DIY the Frozen Pear in the freezing winter of Northeastern China. Go and shop some Southern pears or Ussurian pears, and wrap them with a few layers of protective wrappers, so as not to be contaminated by the dusts in the air. Place the whole package on the windowsill, and wait for the magical moment when the pears start to turn dark in colour. When the pears darken and are ready to eat, soak them in warm water for one to two hours so that the ice on the surface melts. After the ice melts, one can peel the skins off to enjoy the sourly sweet taste of the actual fruit. The flesh of the fruit becomes very soft and juicy after being frozen for a long period. The eruption of sweet froze within one's mouth is a priceless treat to the hot indoor temperatures in the winters of Northeastern China! (It is very normal to walk around in one's own birthday suit indoors when no one is around. The indoor heating system is simply that hot for apartments in Northeastern China.)
The unique freezing sweet taste of frozen pears is easily a fan favourite for those who need to quench one's own thirst in the summer heat. Such impeccably unique cuisine is somehow beyond the imagination for a Southerner in China. The good news is that even Southerners or people abroad can produce their own frozen pears at home. A currently popular variation is the frozen apple, which is as mouth-watering as its original counterpart. The key to produce a frozen fruit would be to pick ones that are small in mass, as it can become frozen (and then unfrozen) in a shorter time. Let us have a brief glimpse on the instructions of DIY frozen pear at home!
DIY frozen pears
Ingredients: Apples/ pears, fridge
1. Wash the pears and apples thoroughly. Wipe the wet surfaces of the fruits dry.
2. Place the fruits into the freezer for 4 days
3. Take the fruits out and warm them under room temperature for 8 hours
4. Place the fruits into the freezer for another 4 days
5. Take the frozen fruits out and the skin tone of the fruits should have already turned dark. Soak them with warm water to unfreeze them.
Thanks to its impeccable taste, the frozen pear has become a timeless classic when people think of Chinese cuisines in the Northeastern part of China. It feels like paradise when you let that cool pear juice run through your whole body on a hot summer day. One may worry about the first time he or she tries the frozen pear, yet it is not long after that one finds out this is possibly the best pear one can find on the planet!