Fresh picking Fruits for May
Quince is an ancient fruit, possibly dating back to the Garden of Eden. Some biblical historians believe this was actually the apple in the story of Adam and Eve. Also known as the “golden apple”, it is believed to symbolize love and happiness. Quince was brought to the United States in the 17th century, although they are still grown around the world. Quinces are fruits that should always be eaten cooked, never raw. The raw fruit is bitter and undesirable to eat. Generally, quinces are used for sauces, jams, or preserves, baked, or even stewed, as they stay firm even when cooked for a long time.
Quince is a good source of Vitamin C; it is low in calories (about 53 per medium fruit) and a good source of minerals. Store quinces in the refrigerator, carefully wrapped, as they bruise easily.
Lychees are round, beautiful, rosy red or green colored fruits, about 1-2” round, encased in a thin, bumpy shell. They are sometimes referred to as “Chinese Cherries”. Lychees are considered a good luck fruit and are often given as gifts during Chinese New Year. The inside resembles a peeled grape and the taste is phenomenal! Lychees have a sweet perfume and a taste reminiscent of a mixture of honey, strawberries and Muscat grapes.
Lychees also have a large, inedible seed, so use caution when eating them. To eat a lychee, just crack the shell gently with your thumbnail just below the stem. Peel away the shell and pop the lychee into your mouth, making sure to spit out the seed. Lychees are delicious as a snack, in fruit salads, as a garnish or in stir-fries. They are best when eaten immediately after purchase, but can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. Store them in a plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture. Lychees are low in calories and have very little fat. They are a good source of potassium and an excellent source of vitamin C. Lychees are said to help relieve coughs, and are being tested by The Cancer Institute for prevention against tumors.
A pleasant surprise lies inside the wrinkled, dimpled, unusual Passion Fruit. The aromatic, jelly-like golden flesh of this tropical fruit is sweet-tart in flavor and filled with soft, edible seeds. Passion Fruit is egg-shaped and has a thick, hard shell that is deeply wrinkled when ripe. Contrary to popular belief, Passion Fruit is named for the bloom of the Passion Fruit flower which is thought to symbolize various parts of the Passion of Christ (such as the crown of thorns and the nails of the crucifixion) and not because of passionate powers it was once believed to contain. New Zealand Passion Fruit is purple while the Hawaiian variety is yellow. Passion Fruit is generally eaten fresh but may be cooked for use in sauces and fillings. Simply halve fruit and scoop out the pulp and seeds with a spoon.
Passion fruit can be purchased with smooth skin for use later, or with wrinkled, dimpled skin for immediate use. The more wrinkles, the better it will taste! Passion fruit can be frozen once the flesh is removed from the shell. It is best stored at room temperature. Passion fruit is very low calorie with about 18 calories per medium fruit and contains vitamins A and C.
Once grown only in New Zealand, Melissa’s Kiwano Melons are now grown in California as well. Consumers are drawn to these intriguing, yet versatile tropical fruits whose look easily capture attention. The spiky, orange colored shells of Kiwano Melons encase a soft, succulent bright green flesh. Melissa’s Kiwano Melons are mild in flavor and similar in taste to juicy, seed-filled cucumbers. Once peeled, Melissa’s Kiwano Melons can be tossed in fresh fruit salads or served as a garnish with roasted meats.
Kiwano melons last for several weeks without refrigeration from their initial picking. Once they “give” to the touch, they are ripe and ready to eat. Do not store them near apples or bananas, as these fruits will shorten their shelf life. They are low in calorie with only 24 calories in 3 ½ oz., and contain more potassium than a banana. They are also high in Vitamin C.
Ojai Pixie Tangerines
Pixie Tangerines are exceptionally sweet tangerines. They are a hybrid of a King and a Dancy tangerine. Pixies are not only sweet and delicious, but they are also seedless and have a very low acidity. They are delicious when juiced or simply eaten out of hand. Pixies were once considered a backyard fruit, only grown in small gardens and local areas of California; they were not commercially grown. Now, because of their great taste and attractive characteristics, they have grown in popularity and are available from Melissa’s from April through June.
Like most tangerines, they are an excellent source of vitamin C and also contain potassium, vitamin A and folic acid. They can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks, but are best when eaten immediately.
Originally introduced in the mid-19th century to the U.S., this ancient fruit has been familiar in Japan and China for thousands of years. These tiny citrus are bright orange and shaped like an egg. They are completely edible. The sweet, thin rind offsets the tart flesh. They are great as a snack or even candied. Kumquats are generally available year-round with a few gaps in growing regions.
Kumquats are best when kept refrigerated. They should have bright skin with no blemishes. They are very low in calories, with about 50 in a 3½ oz. serving. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin C.
Feijoas are grown throughout the world and have become very popular in the United States. Sometimes feijoas are referred to as a pineapple guava, but they are actually two different fruits. Feijoas are lime-green, egg shaped fruits, with a soft succulent flesh. They are very fragrant and are often eaten as a dessert, in compotes, jams, pies, and sauces. Fresh feijoas are great in fruit salads, or as a garnish. Feijoas are rich in Vitamin C, 28mg per 100 g serving, and have only 35 calories per 3 ½ oz. fruit. Feijoas are best when kept refrigerated and are ripe when they are a bit soft to the touch.
New Zealand Tamarillos
New Zealand Red Tamarillos are also known as “tree tomatoes”. They grow world wide, but are currently from New Zealand. They are also grown in the United States and Ecuador. Tamarillos are egg-shaped fruit, about 3-4 inches long. The outside is inedible, but the inside is full of rich, meaty flesh that contains small seeds, similar to a regular tomato. Tamarillos have a tart, tangy flavor and are used as both a fruit and a vegetable. When used as a fruit, tamarillos are generally served in a tart with crème, or some other sweetener. They are often eaten raw with a little lemon juice and sugar. When used as a vegetable, they are generally used like a regular tomato, in sauces, stews, sautéed or grilled. Tamarillos are a very versatile fruit. Tamarillos must be peeled before eaten, as the skin is not edible. They are very low in calories and sodium, and are a good source of vitamins A and C. Store unripe tamarillos at room temperature until they yield to gentle pressure. Otherwise, store in the refrigerator for about 1 week.
Asian pears are thought to be a cross between an apple and a pear, when actually they are closely related to a pear. They taste very similar to a pear, but resemble an apple, which is where the name derived. There are hundreds of varieties of Asian pears available today, making them available just about all year around. They are delicious eaten out of hand, firm and crunchy with plenty of quenching juice. Asian pears are great on fruit platters, in salads, in pies, or desserts, or where ever you may use an apple.
Most Asian pears will last about 30-60 days when refrigerated, but it is always best to eat as soon as possible. Store them in the refrigerator, wrapped carefully so they will not bruise. Most apple pears are handpicked and individually wrapped to prevent any bruising in shipping. Asian pears are a good source of Vitamin B and potassium. They are also low in calories (about 44 per 3 oz.) making them the perfect snack.
Also called niño, ladyfinger, or finger bananas, baby bananas are somewhat smaller than even the most popular yellow Cavendish banana, and are actually sweeter. They are native to tropical countries like Central and South America, the Caribbean and Mexico. Familiar in Latin American, African and Asian cooking, baby bananas are amazingly versatile. Shaped like a miniature slender banana, this small, crunchy specialty banana is usually eaten out of hand or sliced raw in fruit salads. Did you know… that the banana is considered an almost perfect food? The banana is very low in sodium, high in potassium, and contains approximately 6 vitamins and 11 other minerals.
The shape of this banana is flatter, smaller and squarer, yet just as versatile as other bananas. The burro banana is described as having a tangy lemony flavor. Once ripe, the soft flesh is creamy white or yellow with some firmness toward the center. Used when firm, the burro banana can be sliced and added to cereals or made into banana chips. The burro, softened, can also be mashed and used in cake and other dessert recipes.
Larger and firmer than dessert bananas, plantains are commonly used as vegetables rather than fruits because of their lower sugar content. Extremely popular in Latin American countries, plantains are also favored in West Indian and African cooking. Plantains are rarely eaten raw unless completely black to insure ripeness, and are usually baked or fried and served like a potato. These “cooking bananas” have a mild, squash-like flavor and are used in a wide range of savory dishes.
Also called Custard Apple or Custard Fruit, this delicious heart-shaped fruit is a delicacy in the exotic fruit arena. They are a hand-pollinated fruit, which makes them a time-consuming commercial crop. However, since they are grown in so many areas now, supply is not a problem. The flesh of the cherimoya is cream-colored with large, black, inedible seeds. They have a flavor similar to a blend of strawberry, mango and pineapple. To eat one, simply cut it into wedges and spoon out the creamy flesh, while discarding the seeds. They are generally eaten as is, but they can also be used in drinks, fruit salads or desserts.
Cherimoyas should be kept at room temperature until ready to eat, and can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days after ripening. Cherimoyas are not a low calorie fruit, containing about 94 calories per 3 ½ ounce serving. They are also a source of vitamin B and fiber.
Sweet Young Coconuts
Melissa’s delicious sweet young coconuts are a fun way to enjoy the tropical flavor of coconut! These young coconuts don’t have the hard husk like a mature coconut making them popular for snacking and cooking. The refreshing milk in the coconut is often used in exotic drinks, curry dishes or even by itself for a delicious treat. The inner flesh of a sweet young coconut can be easily scooped out to eat as a snack or to use in recipes. It is wonderful in salads, soups or desserts.
Sweet Young Coconuts are very perishable, so it is important to keep them refrigerated. They are available year around and should last about two weeks in the refrigerator.
Melissa’s strawberry papayas are the sweetest, most flavorful of all papayas. They are beautiful green on the outside, with a salmon-pink inner flesh. They are very fragrant and juicy. Strawberry papayas are delicious when cut in half and the flesh scooped out… great in fruit salads, tropical drinks or even grilled. Papayas also make a delicious marinade as they can help tenderize meat. Try them sliced for breakfast, or scooped over ice cream for dessert… any way you eat them, you will love them!
Strawberry papayas are available year around. They can be stored at room temperature to ripen, and then moved into the refrigerator until ready to eat. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and contain only 50 calories per cup.
Melissa’s Key Limes are small, delicious citrus fruits that are available year around and are very versatile. Key Limes are smaller than a common lime, and look rounder than a common lime. They have several seeds and are very fragrant. Key Limes are used in many tropical cuisines throughout the world; limes are a staple of Mexican, Caribbean, Central and South American, African, Indian, Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian and Pacific Island cooking.
Generally limes are used to flavor or enhance recipes. They are also used as a tenderizer for meats or as a marinade. Key Limes are delicious in drinks, adding a touch of flavor to whatever you add a fresh squeeze to. Try a squeeze in your favorite dish and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Key Limes can be stored at room temperature or stored in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life. Always rinse any citrus fruit before slicing and using in recipes or drinks. Limes are a good source of vitamin C.