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March, 2008


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 4½ ounces of starfruit are only 42 calories.

Pixie Tangerines Pixie Tangerines
Pixie Tangerines are very sweet tangerines. They are a cross between a King and Dancy tangerine. These tangerines are not only sweet and delicious, but they are also seedless and have very low acidity. They make delicious juice or snacks. Pixies were once considered a backyard fruit; only grown in small gardens and local areas of California. They were not commercially grown. Because of their great taste and attractive characteristics, they have grown in popularity. They are now available from Melissa's throughout the US. Like most tangerines, they are an excellent source of vitamin C and they also contain potassium, vitamin A and folic acid. They can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks, but they are best when eaten immediately.


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 3½ oz. serving. They are a source of vitamin B and fiber.

Asian Pears
Asian Pears
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.

Chilean Feijoas
Chilean Feijoas
Feijoas are grown throughout the world and have become very popular in the United States. Sometimes feijoas are referred to as 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 3½ oz. fruit. Feijoas are best when kept refrigerated and are ripe when they are a bit soft to the touch.

New Zealand Passion Fruit
New Zealand 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 fruit and scoop 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.

New Zealand Kiwano Melons New Zealand Kiwano Melons
Also known as African Horned Melon, this very interesting piece of fruit contains a lime green, jelly-like inside, with the texture of a cool cucumber and taste with a hint of cucumber, banana, melon and lime. The outer shell is spiky golden-orange and is often used as a serving dish filled with fruit salads, dips or other delicious recipes. Kiwano melons are also used to create exotic tropical drinks or delicious sauces for seafood, poultry and vegetables. 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 calorie with only 24 calories in 3½ oz., and contain more potassium than a banana. They are also high in Vitamin C.