Nature is full of surprises and I think she’s got humour!
If you did not already guess when you read the title of this article, I would like to address the great subject of fruits.
Nowadays, everybody knows mangoes, kiwis or lychees. They are now commonplace in stores. But not so long ago, they were viewed as unconventional…
Let’s focus on some weird fruits 😀 In the industry, they are known as exotic but consumers might think of these fruits and vegetables as unusual or simply strange.
Have you seen those types of fruits before?
The fruit turns red on reaching maturity and splits open with continued exposure to the sun. Traditionally, it is at this time that the ackees are harvested: it is poisonous before it is fully mature, and an ackee pod should never be forced open. It will open itself when it ceases to be deadly. It bursts open to reveal three large black seeds and bright yellow flesh. The flesh of the ackee is popular as a breakfast food in Jamaica; when cooked it looks and tastes much like scrambled eggs. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ackee
Also known as Bitter Gourd, the plant is grown mainly for the immature fruits although the young leaves and tips are edible. It is a long and very bitter fruit used in cuisine, healing practice, and art. A member of the gourd family, it possesses qualities that can be used for food or medicine. Bitter melon is a fruit that can be found in many Asian grocery stores. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitter_gourd
Buddha’s hand or Fingered Citron
This fruit looks like a yellow squid or long gnarled human fingers, it is a mutated form of citrus, in which the wedges do not connect at the bottom, but grow each their own peel. The interior of the fruit is solid albedo (the white part of the skin) with no juicy pulp or seeds. In China, this fruit symbolizes happiness and long life. Chinese people like to carry the fruit in their hands or place it on tables in their homes. Though esteemed for its form and aroma, the Buddha’s Hand fruit is also eaten in desserts and savoury dishes, and the sliced, dried peel of immature fruits is prescribed as a tonic in traditional medicine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddha%27s_hand
Also known as Starfruit, this fruit has a yellow-green skin and lots of interesting angles – five of them actually. When you cut the fruit crosswise, the slices are shaped like stars. This fruit is very crisp, juicy and refreshing. The yellow fruits tend to be more acid in flavour, and the green ones sweeter… Ripe carambolas are eaten out-of-hand, sliced and served in salads, or used as garnish on seafood. They can also be cooked in puddings, tarts, stews and curries. In Malaya for example, they are often stewed with sugar and cloves, alone or combined with apples whereas the Chinese cook this fruit with fish. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carambola
Cempedak is a tropical fruit with thick and gelatinous and sweet flesh which is rich in energy, calcium, vitamin C and fiber. It’s popular in Southeast-Asia, particularly in Malaysia. The size of this fruit is much smaller than the more well known Jackfruit. They can be eaten fresh but they are usually fried. Deep-fried Cempedak Fritters are commonly sold in the streets of Malaysia. Cempedak Truffle Chocolates are also found… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cempedak
Also referred to as Custard Apple, these heart-shaped fruits have a green textured skin, this skin is not meant for eating, neither are the seeds. The fruit is interesting in terms of its shape, size and colour because it has a multi-faceted, almost pre-historic appearance and when they are ripe to eat, they are slightly soft, like a ripe avocado. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherimoya
A fruit covered with tough spiky skin. Its pulp is pale yellow and its smell has been compared to sewage. Yet the taste has been called so good that a European explorer of the 1700’s claimed it was worth the journey to experience it, ‘the King of fruits’. Many believe this fruit to be aphrodisiac… Asian markets often have cookies, crackers, candy, and so on, flavoured with durian. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durian
Kiwano or Horned Melon
Member of the cucumber family, this tropical fruit looks like an oval melon with horns and is very decorative. Once grown only in New Zealand, it is now grown in California as well. Consumers are drawn to this intriguing fruit whose look easily draws attention. The spiky shells of the kiwano encase a soft, bright green flesh. It is similar in taste to juicy, seed-filled cucumbers. Once peeled, the fruit can be used in a fruit salad or served as a garnish with roasted meats. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiwano
Resembling a shrunken orange, kumquats come from China, where they were named for the Cantonese words meaning yellow-orange. These fruits have a bright-orange colour and are the size of large grapes. It is also known as ‘the little gem of the citrus family’. What makes the kumquat unique among the citrus family is that the whole thing can be eaten, from the sweet-tasting rind to the tart pulp interior. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumquat
For centuries, those in Southeast-Asia have revered the mangosteen, both for its flavour and the suggestion that it promotes good health. Sweet and juicy, it is a dark purple fruit (white on the inside) now available even in markets across North America. Actually, the whole mangosteen fruit has been used traditionally to treat a variety of health conditions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangosteen
Also known as the Dragon Fruit, the Pitaya is a beautiful fruit with an intense colour and shape. It is a fruit that grows on a cactus vine. The vine produces large flowers and then the fruits. It has been seen in finest restaurants and then quickly became common-place throughout Australia as a garnish and a delicious fresh fruit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragonfruit
The rambutan is a fruit considered exotic to people outside of its native range. To people of Malaysia, Thailand, the Phillippines, Vietnam, the rambutan is a relatively common fruit the same way an apple is common to many people in cooler climates. It is a delicious and nutritious fruit. The word ‘rambut’ in the fruit name ‘rambutan’ is Malay for ‘hairy’ and this refers to the spiky rind. Indeed, without the soft spines on the rind, the rambutan would resemble the lychee which is in the same family. The internal structure is quite similar. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rambutan
A relative of the potato, tomato and eggplant, the tamarillo is native to Central and South America. Tamarillos can be grown from seed by buying a good flavoured fruit in the supermarket and then sowing the seeds in spring. Those dark red fruits tend to be more acidic than orange types. They are also very attractive with their large heart-shaped leaves and their glossy fruit. Looking like a tomato, it can be eaten in a sandwich, in a salad, or even as a breakfast fruit, or jam! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamarillo
This fruit is used as a vegetable but is a small fruit. It is a tiny green fruit known as the ‘Mexican Green Tomato’ but is actually a relative of the gooseberry family. It looks like a green tomato once its thin paper-like husk is removed. Grown in Texas and California and slowly catching on in the United States because of a growing interest in Latin-inspired cuisines, this fruit has been a staple in Mexico and in Latin American countries for decades. Tomatillos are generally cooked, which softens up their skin and improves their flavour (a bit acidic, with hints of lemon and apple). They are best known for their saucing abilities and are the main ingredient in green sauces and salsa. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomatillo
I have lived in Reunion Island for many years, so I spent my childhood eating lychees, longans, jackfruits and all sorts of so-called exotic fruits. However, writing this article for you guys, I realized that there are lots of fruits which I had never even heard about!
Anyway, TV cooking shows and great chefs help introduce consumers to items they may not have been exposed to so far. We face an attraction for the strange and the new…