Sunday, November 29, 2009


1. The Dragon or Pitahaya Fruit

The boldest of them all

One of the most glorious exotic fruits is the pitaya fruit or the dragon fruit. The fruit is native to Central America, Vietnam and Malaysia. The fruit originates from the dragon fruit cactus plant and is known for it’s bright coloured pulp and unique shape. The dragon fruit requires a warm climate therefor it prospers well in semi-arid areas. Bats play a crucial role in the plants pollination process. Without the help of bats the plant will fail to create adragon fruit cactus.

The fruit consists of vital minerals with various nutritional values. The fruit is an excellent supplement for the liver. It also helps with weight-loss, creating a well balanced body weight, without compromising your health. For people suffering from diabetes, a dry or freshdragon fruit guarantees blood glucose control.

Fresh pitahaya fruit contains lots of water, justifying the soft creamy texture you feel when eating it fresh, a dry pitahaya fruit features a chewy feel, and generally appears darker than the fresh fruit. There are three cultivated varieties ofdragon fruit: the red dragon fruit with red skin and red flesh, the Pitaya fruit featuring white flesh and yellow skin and the red pitaya fruit featuring white flesh and red skin.

2. The Starfruit

A fruit with an edge

Carambola or star fruit is a tropical fruit that is native to Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka. The tree grows fast and produces fruit at approximately 5 years of age. In ideal conditions the carambola can produce up to 400 pounds of fruit a year.The fruit is cultivated mainly during the months of June, July, and August. The fruit is entirely edible, including the slightly waxy skin. The fruit are ripe when they are yellow with a light shade of green and have brown ridges. An overripe fruit will be yellow with brown spots.

The taste is difficult to compare, but it has been described as being a mix of papaya, orange and grapefruit. The starfruit contains enzymes that have various health benefits, however, like the grapefruit, carambola contains oxalic acid which can be harmful to individuals suffering from kidney failure. If you consume star fruit in combination with certain medications, it can significantly increase the effective dosage of the medicine within the body. It can also be used to help treat cardiovascular illnesses.

3. The Mangosteen

A tasty wonder

Mangosteens comes from the Garcinia Mangostana plant of South East Asia. The mangosteen has a soft white edible center that is similar in construction to the sections of an orange, with possibly one seed in each of the larger segments. Several days after harvesting, the skin ofthe mangosteen starts to harden as it loses water, at that point, the use of a knife is essential to open the fruit. The rind of the mangosteen starts out almost white or very pale green and gradually turns red, then purple or a dark brown. The fruit consists of a delicious juice that is a perfect balance of acids and sugars. The seeds are somewhat soft and should not be eaten because they are bitter.

The people of South East Asia have been consuming mangosteen for centuries, unaware of the benefits of the fruit. Modern science discovered that the fruit has a very high concentration of xanthones that is one of the most powerful anti-oxidents in the world. The fruit also boosts the body’s immune systems and helps increase energy levels.

When harvesting mangosteens, natives must prevent the yellow sap of the tree from entering the fruit and making it bitter. The latex or sap may also ooze through the rind and appear as hardened yellow droplets on the outside of the fruit. Seeing these droplets does not automatically ensure that the fruit will be bad, they can appear on the outside for a variety of reasons.

4. The Kiwano

Nature’s horned melon

The Kiwano – also called the African horned cucumber or melon, jelly melon, hedged gourd or melano – originated from central Africa and is part of the cucumber and melon family. It is grown around the world, notably in New Zealand and California. In Asia it is called the ‘blowfish fruit’ because of its oval melon-like shape with horn-like spines.The fruit of this plant is edible, but it is also used for decoration.

In Zimbabwe, this cucumber is called 'gaka' or 'gakachika' and it is primarily used as a fruit-snack. It is eaten young, mature, or when ripe. Its taste has been compared to a combination of cucumber and kiwi or a combination of banana, cucumber and lemon. Some people eat the skin because it is very rich in vitamin c and fibre.

A traditional food plant in Africa, this little-known fruit has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare. The pulp can be used in soups, smoothies, dips and sauces. Peeled,the fruit can be tossed in fruit salads.

5. The Ackee - Best served scrambled

The ackee, the national fruit of Jamaica, is an unusual fruit which is eaten as a vegetable. Prepared ackee looks like scrambled eggs, and has its own delicate flavour. The tree, native to Jamaica, also grows in other West Indian Islands, inCentral America, and in Southern Florida. There are two bearing seasons: between January to March and June to August.

The ackee is a tropical evergreen tree that grows about 30 feet tall with fragrant white flowers. The fruit grows in clusters and is pear shaped and bright red to yellow-orange in colour. When the fruit is ripe, it splits open to reveal three large, shiny black seeds, surrounded by soft, creamy or spongy, white to yellow flesh. The fruit must only be picked after the fruit has opened naturally, and must be fresh and not overripe. The fruit of the ackee is not edible, only the fleshy arils around the seeds are.

Ackee and salt fish is Jamaica’s national dish, it consists of boiled, drained and simmered ackee with salted dried cod and vegetables. Canned ackee is exported around the world, it is widely available in the UK and in West Indian markets and shops.

6. The Durian

Smells like hell, tastes like heaven

If I think of tropical fruit I think of pineapples, bananas, mangos, and papayas. The durian, which is sometimes called ‘the king of fruits,’ is definitely something different. The durian, native to Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, has been known to the Western world for about 600 years.The fruit is distinctive for its large size, unique odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk. The repellent odour of the dorian has led tothe fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in South East Asia. However, don't let the smell of the dorian put you off, apparently it ‘smells like hell and tastes like heaven’.

The smell is similar to that of a onion, which is not what you expect from a fruit. The texture is very soft and creamy, almost like an avocado, but slightly fibrous. It is exported — either fresh or frozen — anywhere there’s a market for it. A dorian at the ideal peak of ripeness is very scarce, it is the overripe dorians that givesthe fruit it’s bad reputation. The fruit can grow as large as 30 centimetres long and 15 centimetres in diameter, and it typically weighs one to three kilograms.

7. The Sugar-apple

An exotic taste sensation

The name sugar-apple derives from the distinct custard taste of the fruit. The texture of its flesh is almost like the center of a very ripe guava. It is slightly grainy, a bit slippery, very sweet and very soft. Sugar-apples also have a very distinct, sweet-smelling fragrance. Sugar-apple fruit is high in calories and is a good source of iron. The fruit is very popular throughout the tropics and warmer subtropics such as Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan. It is naturalized north to southern Florida in the US and south to Brazil.

It is quite a productive fruit bearer; a tree of five years can produce as many as 50 sugar-apples. In the Philippines there is a company that produces sugar-apple wine. It is used by some societies in India as part of a hair tonic. The seeds are also ground and applied to hair to get rid of lice, however, it must be kept away from the eyes as it is highly irritant and can cause blindness.

9. The Miracle Fruit

A taste twister

The miracle berry plant produces berries, that, when eaten before meals, cause sour foods (such as lemons and limes) to taste sweet. The miracle berry looks a lot like the goji berry. The plant grows in bushes up to 6.1 m high in its native habitat, tropical West Africa. The plants first bear fruit after growing for approximately 2–3 years. The plant grows best at a pH as low as 4.5 to 5.8, in an environment free from frost and in partial shade with high humidity.

The berries contains an active glycoprotein molecule, this molecule binds to the tongue's taste buds, causing sour foods to taste sweet. This effect lasts 15-60 minutes. This berry is the main stimulant in what is called "flavor tripping parties". At these parties guests consume bitter foods in conjunction with miracle berries and then experience the taste changes. In Japan, miracle fruit is popular among diabetics and dieters. Miracle fruit is also available as freeze-dried granules or in tablets.

10. The Goji Berry

A gift of life

The Tibetan goji berry can be found in the valleys of Tibet and Mongolia. The goji berry is so special to the locals that they honour it in a special two-week long celebration each year. It is believed that the people in these areas live for well over a hundred years due to the nutritional value of the goji berry.

The goji berry grows in abundance in remote areas with vines reaching over twenty feet. The small, round red berries are harvested in late summer. The berries are placed in collection trays, then washed, inspected and oven dried. These berries is as pure as you can get – no chemicals are ever used in these remote areas – they are wildcrafted and naturally have more nutrient energy than cultivated varieties.

Goji berries are being called the world's most nutritional powerfull anti-aging food. Goji berries are the highest rated antioxidant on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale. Goji berries have more vitamin C than oranges, more beta-carotene than carrots, more protein than whole wheat and more iron than steak. It is said that in Tibet eating goji berries in the morning will also make you feel happy for the rest of the day. The taste can be described as a mixture between a cranberry and a cherry. Others say that they taste of raspberry and plum, guess you will have to decide for yourself!

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