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Fruits from around the world

19th June 2006

One of my sons received a sushi kit for Christmas and asked to pick up some ingredients to try out sushi roll making.  So we headed off to the Asian market to pick up some sticky rice, seaweed and a few other necessities.  While there, we found some very strange “fruit”.  I inquired their names and uses and went home intrigued.  Were there other fruits from around the world I was missing out on?

China has a great variety of fruits we don’t see in the US – among them, jujube fruits are small, round, olive-like fruits are picked when rust colored then left to wither to develop sweetness and sponginess in the fruit.  Their taste most closely resembles a date. 

Japan grows large crops of loquat, a fruit similar to apples and pears.  Bright yellow in color and are eaten like we eat apples – in jellies, pies, sauces and raw.

Pakistan and India grow a very interesting fruit called a bael fruit.  Grown on trees of poisonous leaves, these baseball sized green fruits resemble a hairless, green coconut.  The flesh of the plant is used as a detergent and adhesive.  When ripened, the flesh is used as a laxative.  When unripe, it’s used as a treatment for dysentery.  The tree needs drought conditions to produce fruit. 

South African natal plum sounds very interesting as well; it’s supposed to taste like unripe cherries.  Usually used for preserves, this mango-looking fruit can also be eaten raw.  The dark red flesh can be used to dye fabric but will also dye your teeth if eaten raw.

New Zealand is home of the Kiwis – the fruits and the people.  While kiwi fruit likely occupy a very small corner of your grocery store, you may not know much about them.  I love kiwi fruit and am so glad I grew up munching it.  Carefully cut off the outer fuzzy covering to get to the juicy, bright green flesh that tastes like a lime crossed with a perfectly ripe pear.  The black seeds are edible and add a crunch similar to sesame seeds. 

Malaysia produces the only commercially important fruit of the mahogany family, the santol, also called kechapi.  They look like wooden peaches.  It is used in marmalades, jellies and jams and is often found as marmalade in Asian markets.  The fruits have a juicy pulp surrounding and attached to large seeds.  It is difficult to separate the flesh from the seeds so it is rarely eaten raw. 

I’m going to spend more time in the corner of my super market that carries those odd fruits.  I may not be able to afford a trip to South Africa for dinner, but I can bring some of their fruits into my home.

Mary Smith

One Response to “Fruits from around the world”

  1. Tumski Says:

    Hi Mary

    great to see such good advice about fruit! Also happy to see that you have some of my favorites – loquats and kiwis. It is great that we can now buy all sorts of fruit from around the world in our local supermarkets – though of course you now have the worry of food miles and trying to lessen our carbon footprints.

    One fruit that you didn’t mention is the acai berry – a really tasty ‘superfood’ from the Amazon. It’s meant to be very popular so is all the rage at the moment – unfortunately you can’t buy it fresh as it doesn’t travel.