I eat fun fruit (you should too).

Discussion in 'Lifestyle, Health, Fitness & Food' started by Murdstone, Mar 15, 2014.

  1. Murdstone

    Murdstone Sycamore Trees

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    I'm always on the hunt for exotic or foreign fruits when I go to international markets. I'll document some of my finds and what I like to do with them. I mostly make juices or syrups from some of these but others can be eaten as is or with other dishes.

    Prickly Pear/Barbary Fig

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    So this fruit buds off the end of paddle cacti. It's super sweet when ripe (dark red) and I like to make a syrup out of it by boiling skinned chunks in enough water to barely cover the pieces, straining, then adding a roughly equal amount of sugar to the leftover liquid. Gently boil that until the volume is reduced to about 1/4 its original volume or until the thickness is how you want it. The taste is almost like a citrusy-watermelon to me. This simple syrup goes really well with club soda, gin, and a little bit of mint and lime. I haven't been seeing them around lately, I'd say the best time to buy (on the East coast) would be around January.


    Passion Fruit

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    There are a couple varieties of these, but I think the ones with purple rind are the best. The flower of the vine that they grow on is beautiful. Passion fruit tastes like a very sweet orange juice mixed with pineapple. You'll know a passion fruit is ready to eat if you shake it and can hear something sloshing around inside. The skin should feel kind of leathery. You can munch on the arils and spit out the seeds similar to a pomegranate or make juice out of them which is what I do. Scrape out and throw the brains (trash the rind) into a blender or food processor with some cold water, enough to get a consistent liquid when blended. Strain, making sure to get rid of all the seeds, then you can either dilute with more water to get more volume while adding sugar until sweet enough for you or keep it as a concentrate and add a bit of sugar to be used in cocktails. I just like drinking the juice after diluting it with some water.


    Guava

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    There are also a couple kinds of guavas, the kind pictured above are typically called baby guavas but I just know them as 'those guayabas I get from the Mexican market.' I make juice with these (another juice, I know. Sorry!) and it's my favorite spring-summer drink. They're ready when the skin gives a bit to pressure and is soft to the touch (but not squishy). Too firm and it'll taste bitter and pretty bad. They should also smell just like they taste when they're ready. When they're unripened, the inside is a cream color whereas it changes to reddish when ripe. To me they taste like a very subtle mixture of strawberries and bananas. I make juice from these in a similar way to the passion fruit, by blending straining and diluting, then adding sugar. 5 guayabas can give about 2 mason jars of delicious juice. I have 4 regular sized guavas ripening right now, I'll make another post when they're ready and what I'll do with those (since they're kind of different). Both of these types of guavas are in season now, so get looking.

    More will follow this post.
     
  2. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    Yep, I'm into that as well! I love all those crazy southeastern fruits we don't grow here.
     
  3. Murdstone

    Murdstone Sycamore Trees

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    Durian (the infamous)

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    So durian has the reputation for smelling and tasting like a corpse to some people. They're also intimidating as they look like spiky cannonballs (the one pictured was the smallest I could find, by the way). You need a big knife to hack these apart, but you can do it by going into the 'seam' and then using your gorilla strength to hulk apart the husk. You'll want gloves. This gave me a really peculiar feeling of butchering a living animal, the way the skin felt when slicing it apart. It feels like a creature. Then you'll have to pick apart all the compartments where the flesh is stored. The flesh feels like almost wet raw dough, and each 'breast' (it totally looks like chicken breast) will have a big old seed attached to it. Durians are ready to eat once they become fragrant (which is pretty much any time). Once you get past the texture of wet dough like I mentioned before, the first taste that hits you is a sickly-sweet synthetic tropical banana flavor mixed with a creamy almond flavor. The only way I can describe it is extremely sweet 'tropical' flavor. This is followed by a not very subtle flavor of raw onion. Personally, I really enjoyed the taste, however my girlfriend nearly puked. I think this one really comes down to everyone's individual tongue. To some it tastes like rotting flesh smells. My only problem with the durian is that there is way too much meat to eat for one person. I could finish maybe one breast of it without being totally over durian, but you can see from the plate that you get a ton of meat off of it. If you see one, give it a chance.


    Starfruit

    I didn't specifically take pictures of starfruit but you can see one in the pictures of the durian above. I actually hate starfruit, I find it totally boring with little application whatsoever. It just tastes like a watered down mystery fruit. Pear maybe? The taste is really diluted and plain. I tried making juice, it sucked. You can eat them but they're just really boring. The best thing they've got going for them is their eye-attractive shape when cut. I first had one a while ago and didn't like it, so I thought after a couple years maybe I'd like them again but they were still just as bad as I remembered.


    Coming soon...

    I have a couple things ripening. Dragon fruit, chermioya, longan (later tonight), large guava, lemon plums, etc. I'll update this when I prepare everything.
     
    Mr. Big Noodles likes this.
  4. Murdstone

    Murdstone Sycamore Trees

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    I'm jealous of being on the West coast though, you probably get things fresher and easier from southeast Asia than we do on the other side of the country. That area has some really awesome stuff.
     
  5. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    Yeah, I can head over to San Francisco and go on a food odyssey and get all that stuff. I don't think I've ever had a fresh Durian, but I hear they taste better than the ones that are typically frozen for importation, then thawed. But I'm actually a fan of it myself. And my wife hates it, too! I like trying these fruits because they're so different from what I grew up eating. My guess is that since we both skew toward playing ridiculous ERGs and eating fruit from the other side of the world that you have a similar degree of xenophilia. I just like trying new things in general, so I'm into ostrich burgers, tripe, all that stuff.
     
  6. Murdstone

    Murdstone Sycamore Trees

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    This durian may or may not have been frozen, it was thawed when I bought it but there's really no way of knowing. I'm sure it was frozen though at some point if it made the journey here. I really didn't mind it though. Funny you mention ostrich, I had an ostrich burger and hated it. Conch fritters and snake fingers though, count me in. Offals I can typically do without. Definitely agree with the xenophilia bit, I'm always down to try something unique to other cultures that you don't see often.

    Dragon Fruit/Pitaya

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    One of the most aesthetically pleasing fruits, without a doubt. I'm not yet sold on dragon fruit though, I haven't found the best way to eat it. Most often people just scoop out its guts, cube them, then eat them that way, but I've found the taste to be a bit off-putting due to the seeds which tend to have a sort of sesame seed-like taste to them. I think I just haven't gotten a really really sweet one yet since they're supposed to taste like a nice mixture of pears and kiwi, but mine have generally tasted pretty plane and a bit sour. I have another white one and one with red flesh in my apartment that I'm going to let ripen for another couple days to see if I can get some sort of sweetness out of it. If you have good experiences with this fruit, please enlighten me. I haven't given up on them yet.


    Longan/Dragon's Eyes

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    Longan are fun to munch on. They grow in clusters on trees and you can typically buy them lose or still clustered together. They're pretty closely related to lychee and rambutan and have a very similar taste, which is something of a cross between grape and apple to me, with the texture of a peeled grape. There's a pit in the middle but it's no different than eating cherries. I haven't done anything particularly fancy with them in recipes, but I like gnawing on them when I get them.


    Lemon Plum

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    I saw these the other day and got them on a whim. I'm not a huge fan of plums, but I figured I'd grab them since I've never seen them before. According to wikipedia they have a really short season in the US (now) and are kind of hard to come by. The taste was basically a plum whose skin had a hint of citrus. For some reason these things also smell just like those fake buttered popcorn jellybeans when they ripen. They were really juicy and basically sprayed everywhere after biting. Like I said, I'm not a huge fan of plums so I probably won't buy them again, but for plum lovers I'd definitely say go for it if you see them.


    Cherimoya

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    Close cousins of soursop, custard apples, pawpaw etc., the cherimoya is said by Mark Twain to be the most delicious fruit known to man. This is a really odd one since the taste varies massively depending on ripeness. When it's completely unripe the texture of the flesh is like a hard apple and it tastes vaguely tropical with a strong bubblegum flavor left on your tongue. As it ripens, the flesh gets soft and eventually liquidy, tasting more like a very sweet mixture of banana and pineapple and other tropical things. The one in the picture just got soft today. Personally I think they're best a day before they're ripe (barely gives when pressed on) so that they have the sweetness of the ripe fruit but the texture and bubblegum flavor of the unripe fruit (I should have opened this one yesterday). If let to ripen too long they get really squishy and super sweet (almost too much so) and it doesn't jive with me at that point. These are pretty hard to find actually (on the East coast at least) so grab one if you see it.
     
  7. Murdstone

    Murdstone Sycamore Trees

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    Guava

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    These are the bigger kind of guava that seem to be more common. These aren't as sweet as the guava mentioned before, and can be white or red in the middle (but won't turn reddish if they're the white variety). The taste is pretty much the same, except maybe a bit more citrusy.


    Here's the kind of dragon fruit with red flesh too. I gave these a couple days to ripen and they still aren't very flavorful to me. I just think they're kind of a bland fruit.

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    That's all I have at my house now, I hope to find some mangosteen this weekend if I'm lucky.
     
  8. Fiction

    Fiction For Mod

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    You should definitely try and get your hands on some quince, and make a paste.

    Pretty terrible pre-cooking, but once you've cooked it down for 4-5 hours is starts to turn bright red, and loses any bitterness. Compliments cheese plates really well.
     
  9. Necris

    Necris Bonitis.

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    Wow, a lot of those I'd love to try but can't find near me. The most interesting fruit I've found is starfruit which I like quite a bit.
     
  10. UnderTheSign

    UnderTheSign SS.org Regular

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    The 'weirdest'/most unusual I've eaten so far are Cape Gooseberries/Azet Berry/whateever they call it... And seeing as they grow right in our garden they're not that unusual at all.
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    Some of those look really interesting. We have a huge Turkish/Eastern/exotic bazaar on the weekends here, might check if they've got anything there!
     
  11. crg123

    crg123 SS.orgLocalArchitect

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    Interesting stuff I'll be sure to follow your exploration as you find new stuff
     
  12. Murdstone

    Murdstone Sycamore Trees

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    I haven't had quince before, I'll definitely be sure to keep my eyes peeled at the local places. I like to make candied fruit every now and then and it sounds like it'd be good in something sweet like that.

    I know this by the name physalis, I've been meaning to try it but this is another thing I might have a hard time finding, I haven't seen them anywhere before.


    I've been busy lately inhaling mangoes, but I don't think they're exotic enough to write a picstory about. As I mentioned before, I'm really keeping my eyes peeled for mangosteen, they're a hidden treasure. I hope to find some this saturday down in Chinatown. Another thing I've been eating is pomelo, which I'll get some pics of next time I get one. They're one of my favorite fruits.
     
  13. UnderTheSign

    UnderTheSign SS.org Regular

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    If you have a small garden, they're pretty easy to grow, people have often compared it to growing tomatoes. Texture wise they remind me of rose hips, taste wise I wouldn't know what to compare it to.
     
  14. cwhitey2

    cwhitey2 BlackendCrust Metalâ„¢

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    OMG. :yum:

    I love this thread.

    The last couple months I have gotten into juicing and i freaking love. People have no ideas how good it is for you too.

    Murdstone have you ever done the only juice diet yet?

    My GF does it randomly for a week or so at a time and its amazing. She feels like crap the first day or 3 but after that everything is good after that. She loses about 3-7 pounds too
     
  15. sol niger 333

    sol niger 333 I like stuff

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  16. Murdstone

    Murdstone Sycamore Trees

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    You know I've thought about trying one of the juice diets but I'm such a meataholic I don't know if I could stick to one. I've been thinking about getting an actual juicer rather than using a food processor but oddly enough I keep telling myself I wouldn't use it. My dad has one, but he's also in a climate that he can grow mangoes and all sorts of tropical fruit that I can't (asshole) himself.

    Any recommendations for a good starter's juicer?

    Do you just eat your starfruit plain? As I mentioned above I kind of hate them because I can't find any flavor in the ones I've had. They're pretty cool looking and I don't want to give up on them but I haven't had good experiences yet.

    Think they'd be okay growing indoors with a grow lamp? I'm lucky enough to have a sunny window in NYC let alone a garden. It's my first growing season here so I'm trying out some peppers indoors to see how they'll fare but I could definitely add them to my ensemble sometime soon.
     
  17. Murdstone

    Murdstone Sycamore Trees

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    Okay, here's today's haul from Chinatown.

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    Fuyu persimmons, soursop, Korean melon, pomelo, custard apple, Xinjian fragrant pears. No mangosteens this week, I'll probably go back in two or three weeks to find some.

    Red Pomelo

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    I love these, they're basically giant grapefruit. The flesh tastes just like grapefruit except a little less bitter and more sweet. There's a variety with white flesh too instead of red but I haven't found any of those before. They're really fragrant before you even peel them, smelling like citrus from a couple feet away. As you can see the rind is huge, making this a really difficult fruit to eat. I think I have my technique down though. I chop off the top with the stem, make cuts down the length of the fruit, and peel away the rind and extra pith. Once the fruit is free, I hulk it in half and make cuts across the tops of each individual section, where I can peel down the skin to expose the fruit kind of like peeling a banana. You're left with a ton of pith and skin to discard or do something fun with. I made candied pomelo rind a while back and it was pretty delicious. The rind itself becomes very citrusy and not bitter at all when candied and the pith becomes this gelatinous sweet stuff that tastes really good. These are pretty common this time of year.


    Fragrant Pears

    These are the pear-looking things in the picture above. They basically taste like any other pear, but the texture is of a really crunchy apple and they're a bit sweeter than other pears, almost like a mixture of gala apples and pears. They're a fun snack but nothing to write home about unless you're really passionate about pears.


    Custard Apple? Atemoya?

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    So this was listed as custard apple which is a close cousin of cherimoya but its skin had some bumps/spikes which lead me to believe it was a variety known as an atemoya, which is a pineapple cherimoya hybrid. The flavor sort of supported this, since it tasted just like cherimoya with a stronger hint of citrus.


    Soursop/guanabana/graviola

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    This is another cherimoya cousin, however the soursop tastes radically different. The taste is identical to those fake green apple candies you can find in Chinese restaurants or pretty much any synthetic green apple candy, like some warheads (but not sour) and other things like that. It's like a really really sweet mixture of pear and pineapple. I made juice out of this even though it's relatively small for a soursop, and it needed no extra sweetener. There are allegedly some really significant health benefits to eating these fruits, such as anti-cancer and antiviral properties which haven't been studied to a very large degree as of yet. It's tasty though, especially if you have a sweet tooth.

    EDIT: They taste like these -

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    Persimmons (Fuyu)/Sharon fruit

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    This is a fuyu persimmon which is different from a hachiya persimmon by its shape and taste. Fuyu are more squat while hachiya are generally sort of elongated like roma tomatoes. This one looks like it may have been frozen at some point for import since the leaves on really fresh ones are typically green. It still tastes fine though so I'm not too concerned about it. I can't really describe the unique taste, other than saying I get a hint of cinnamon everytime I eat them. This might only be because I generally like to bake persimmon slices with cinnamon and sugar so maybe my brain is playing tricks on me. The taste is very mild and the flesh is very juicy. They're everywhere this time of the year in New York, I don't know about other places though. I never saw them living in Pennsylvania, so I'd say check a more diverse market.
     
  18. UnderTheSign

    UnderTheSign SS.org Regular

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    Worth a shot! The climate here (or at least the summers) seems to be similar to NY and we grow them in a small greenhouse. How to Grow Physalis Indoors | eHow here's a short tutorial. If you don't have access to a fluorescent lamp or heat pad I'm sure you could just try and use whatever you have.
     
  19. Fiction

    Fiction For Mod

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    Been digging Nashi Pears lately, not that rare, but they're new to me, because of the texture they go really well in Asian salads (I use Eschalot, Celery, Cabbage & Asian crisp noodles/fried shallots and Nashi).
     
  20. Murdstone

    Murdstone Sycamore Trees

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    I have a grow lamp and warming mat for all my peppers so I could throw some seeds in next to them. I'll order some and give it a shot!
     

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