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Hans Kluijt (Country Winery): "Paw paw recovered remarkably well from frost"
Biggest paw paw production of Northern Europe in the Nijverdal
The Country Winery in Nijverdal used to be a testing vineyard/nursery for testing various grape varieties, to see if they were suitable for the climate in the Netherlands/Twente. Now Hans Kluijt is experimenting with the cultivation of special fruit plants, such as the paw paw, persimmon, kiwis and various nuts. "We've got the biggest amount of paw paw trees in North Europe here!"
Hans received the paw paw seeds from relatives in America. "You have to have perseverance, it takes six years to go from seedling to product," Hans says. "There is another major grower of the paw paw in Italy, and recently a thousand plants were also planted in Croatia and Serbia, so the cultivation is on the rise. But with this size, we are unique in Northern Europe with the paw paw cultivation, of which we have more than one hundred trees. The plan is to plant a few hectares of paw paw in 2 or 3 years."
After the frost (-9°C) hit the Nijverdal, there were hardly any apples and pears left on the trees, and the walnuts also suffered a big blow. Remarkably, the paw paw trees recovered well. "Some of the flowers have frozen off, but new flowers were gradually grown. The fruit recovers remarkably easily. That was quite different with the persimmons, they're going out now," Hans says. The varieties currently growing at Country Winery are: Overleese, Profilc, Davis, Rebecca Gold, Sunflower, Wells and a number of seedlings.
"The paw paw's flesh has a custard-like texture, and a tropical flavour, a combination of banana and mango with a hint of strawberry or vanilla, depending on the variety," Hans says enthusiastically. The fruits of the paw paw contain many important nutrients, such as a high amount of vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, potassium and essential amino acids, and contains large amounts of riboflavin, niacin, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc. In America, professors are researching anti-cancer substances that could potentially be found in the bark and branches of the paw paw."
The paw paw has a shelf life of around three weeks after the harvest. After that, black spots start appearing on the skin. The grower removes the seeds from the fruit, after which he stores the pulp in the freezer, for the production of ice cream, jam, beer and wine. For the fresh trade, Hans doesn't have enough volume yet, unfortunately. "But in five years' time, I hope to have increased the harvest manifold, and then it could be interesting," Hans concludes. On October 24 and 25, he's holding a paw paw festival, where visitors can get more information, taste the paw paw, and buy plants and seeds.
More information about the paw paw project
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Publication date: 6/24/2015
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