Five varieties of Australian perry pear found to be at risk of loss to horticulture have been added to the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity’s international Ark of Taste.
The perry — inedible, small, astringent fruit — has been used for centuries in the English western counties of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire to make a fermented alcoholic beverage similar to cider. Varieties were brought to Australia during the Victorian gold rushes in the 1850s and 1860s.
The announcement of the fruits’ inclusion in the Ark was made by Slow Food International secretary-general Paolo Di Croce in conjunction with Australian Ark Commission chair Cherry Ripe at an Ark of Taste dinner today at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) near Hobart, Tasmania, on the occasion of the national meeting of Slow Food in Australia.
The perry varieties listed include the Yellow Huffcap, Moorcroft, Gin, Red Longdon and Green Horse.
The Australian Ark of Taste was established in July 2003. It aims to protect and preserve quality, small-scale production of culturally significant foods that are threatened with extinction, including critically endangered breeds of animals and heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables. The Ark works to recognise and preserve listed foods’ heritage and taste and to promote and encourage agricultural and horticultural biodiversity.
In its first seven years, four products were listed in the Australian Ark, some of which were included the MONA dinner menu, including Tasmanian Leatherwood honey, bull-boar sausages unique to Victoria, Kangaroo Island Ligurian bee honey from South Australia, and the Bunya, an indigenous nut native to Queensland.
Since 2010, two further products have been added to the Australian Ark, both rare breeds of domestic animals of European origin: in June 2011 the Wessex Saddleback pig, extinct in its native England, and in April 2012 the Dairy Shorthorn, which is ‘critically endangered’.
The pear listing today brings the number of listings on the Australian Ark to 11. Australian Ark Commission chair Cherry Ripe hopes that many more will come to fulfil the goal of 10,000 international Ark listings by 2017.
For more information, please visit the Slow Food Australia website