Get Ready for the Start of the Grilling Season
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 and have about 50 calories in a 3½ ounces serving. They are also an excellent source of 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.
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.
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.
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.
For easy opening, try our Melissa’s Coconut Tool to open your Sweet Young Coconut.
Once native to China and Japan, Persimmons, also known as kaki fruit or Sharon fruit are now widely grown for commercial use. Generally eaten fresh, cooked or candied, the most common variety of Persimmon is called the Hachiya. Large and round with a pointy base, the Hachiya Persimmon is easy to distinguish from its smaller, flatter, tomato-shaped counterpart called the Fuyu. Both varieties have red-orange skin and jelly-like flesh when ripe. The Hachiya when completely ripe is soft, creamy and tangy-sweet.
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 3½ oz., and contain more potassium than a banana. They are also high in Vitamin C.