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September, 2009

Take a look at this season's fresh fruit.

Passion Fruit
Passion Fruit
Passion Fruit originated in South America, most likely Brazil. Now, passion fruit is grown worldwide. Passion fruit comes from the passion flower, which is a beautiful tropical flower with a wonderful fragrance. Passion fruit is generally purple, but can also be golden, and has a jelly-like golden flesh, filled with soft edible seeds. Passion fruit looks like an egg, with a thick, hard shell that gets wrinkled as it ripens...the more wrinkles, the better the fruit will be. Contrary to popular belief, passion fruit is named for the bloom of the passion fruit flower. This bloom 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. Passion fruit is generally eaten fresh but may be cooked for use in sauces and fillings. Simply halve the 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.


Pomegranates
Pomegranates
Pomegranates probably originated around Persia. The word Pomegranate is Latin for “apple of numerous seeds”. They have been cultivated worldwide for thousands of years. There is even record of pomegranates being buried in Egyptian tombs, dating back thousands of years. Pomegranates are a Greek symbol of fertility. These beautiful red fruits were used for fabric dye and medicinally years ago. Today, they are eaten as a sweet and delicious treat whenever they are in season. Pomegranates are generally chosen for size; the larger the fruit, the sweeter it will be. They are best when eaten at room temperature, but can be refrigerated to prolong the shelf life. Pomegranate juice and seeds can be frozen for later use. The seeds in the pomegranate are completely edible, although many choose not to eat them. Use pomegranate seeds in fruit salads, as a garnish on plates, in sorbets or desserts, or in juices. They are low calorie, with about 20 calories per ounce. They are a good source of potassium, low sodium and also a source of vitamins C and B.


Starfruit from Taiwan
Starfruit from Taiwan
Starfruit originated in Southeast Asia or India, thousand of years ago and has been gaining popularity since. Most of the starfruit in the United States is grown in Florida, but Taiwan is also a huge exporter. Melissa’s imports starfruit from Taiwan because of its superior quality and size. Most US grown starfruit are about 4-6 inches in length, while starfruit from Taiwan are about 6-8 inches in length. Starfruit, also known as Carambola, gets its name from its shape, once cut cross-wise. It has a waxy appearance and once the small seeds are removed, is completely edible. Most starfruit are sour tasting, but have a sweet-tart flavor. Starfruit is a tropical fruit with many uses; it is great sliced in salads, as a garnish for drinks or platters, served on meats, made into chutneys, and more. Always look for starfruit with no bruises, however, a slight browning on the edges of the ribs is normal (some say this is sugar!), and means the fruit is ripe. Starfruit will ripen at room temperature, from a lime green to a golden yellow (with brown edges). Eat immediately when ripe, to enjoy the crispness of the fruit. Starfruit is very low calorie and a good source of vitamin A & C. About 4 ½ ounces of starfruit are only 42 calories.


Chilean Cherimoyas
Chilean Cherimoyas
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 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 once ripe for a few days. Cherimoyas are not a low calorie fruit, containing about 94 calories per 3 ½ oz. serving. They are also a source of vitamin B and fiber.



Strawberry Papayas
Strawberry Papayas
Strawberry papayas are the most delicious papayas of all varieties. They are red-flesh papayas and are juicy with a hint of fresh peaches and berries. Strawberry papayas can be eaten plain, once ripe, or in fruit salads, in desserts or blended into drinks. Just cut in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and eat. You will think you are in the Tropics, once you taste one of these papayas. Strawberry Papayas are grown in several areas throughout their season, but currently, they are imported from Brazil. They grown in clusters at the top of the tree and are picked once they begin to streak with color. When you purchase a strawberry papaya, choose one that is soft to touch; it should have a slight blush of yellow as opposed to solid green. You can ripen fruit at room temperature in a paper bag in about 3 days. Strawberry papayas are low calorie and high in vitamin C. They have about 39 calories per 3 1/2 oz. serving.



Sprite Melons
Sprite Melons
Sprite Melons are a relatively new variety of melon available in the commercial marketplace. They are grown exclusively in North Carolina and are available through the summer until September. These melons are smaller melons about 4-5 inches in diameter. They look similar to miniature honeydew, with a taste that is incredibly sweet! The sugar content in a sprite melon is about 5% greater than in other melons. Sprite melons are generally crisp when eaten, but always sweet, unlike other melons that are un-ripe when they are crisp. Sprite melons are great in fruit salads or for dessert by themselves. Sprite melons are low calorie, about 110 per melon. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and have no fat or cholesterol. Store sprite melons at room temperature until ripe, then refrigerate. They are best when eaten with 2-3 days of ripening.


Champagne Grapes
Champagne Grapes
These tiny grapes are actually a Zante Currant (also known as Black Corinth) variety that is seedless. The name stems from Greece where they were grown and very popular over 2000 years ago. These miniature grapes grow on vines in clusters of as many as 300 grapes! It is believed that champagne grapes get their unique name because of their California usage: draped over a glass of champagne or wine as an edible garnish. They are a very sweet grape in which the entire cluster is edible, including the small stems. They are generally eaten as is, and are often dried to use in baking and cooking (currants and raisins). Any way you eat them; these are delicious and unusual grapes. Champagne grapes should be washed before eaten. Keep them stored in the refrigerator for longest shelf-life and eat within a few days for best taste. Grapes are a good source of potassium with about 65 calories in a three ounce serving.


Lychees
Lychees
Lychees are round, beautiful rosy red to dark brown colored fruits, about 1-2”, 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 taste like a mixture of honey, strawberries and Muscat grapes. Lychees also have a large, inedible seed inside, so use caution when eating them. To eat a lychee, just crack the shell gently with your hand or teeth. Remove half of the shell and pop the lychee flesh into your mouth (or serving dish). Be sure to remove the seed. Lychees are delicious as a snack, in fruit salads, as a garnish or in stir-fry. They are best when purchased and eaten immediately, 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 calorie and have very little fat. They are a good source of potassium and an excellent source of vitamin C. Lychee is said to help relieve coughs, and is being tested by The Cancer Institute for activity against tumors.