Jackfruit

THE RECORD BREAKING FRUIT

With its origins in tropical south and southeast Asia the jackfruit has become popular in many countries around the world. Present day it is found in its native regions, East Africa and Latin America. It is truly spectacular and dangerous as it holds the record for being the largest tree born fruit globally (they can reach 80 pounds).

Belonging to the Moraceae it is closely associated with the pacific fruit Breadfruit but is actually a separate species. Both fruits are considered as potential solutions to food security as they are plentiful and rich in fibre. The more famous Durian is often mistaken for a Jackfruit as well.

jackfruit-durian-breadfruit

FLAVOUR PROFILE

Jackfruit is not exactly regarded as a must try fruit to be honest. It has a strong aroma that can be described as something between pineapple and banana as well as a flavour that mixes the same fruits as well as mango and apple when ripe. It is naturally sweet but subtle. The overriding feeling from eating a jackfruit is the starchy and fibrous quality.

Jackfruits come in various forms from hard to soft but also ripe and unripe. This is an important distinction because the flavour profiles are quite different. Compared to the ripe fruit, unripe has a more meat-like flavour that is mild and often finds its way into curries.

USES

In India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and the countries of South East Asia both ripe and unripe jackfruit are used. Ripe jackfruit is used with desserts as well as mixed with ice or added to ice cream.

Unripe jackfruit is made into a jam/chutney or added to curry. It is seen as a savoury ingredient. In Indonesia it is used as with coconut milk as gudeg, in Thailand it is added to a Northern salad called tam kanun and in West Bengal it is used as a vegetable to make various spicy curries. Because of its savoury nature, unripe jackfruit can be combined with spices extremely well.

The seeds can be considered as an ingredient in themselves too as they are often fried or freeze-dried then sold as jackfruit chips. They have a milky sweet taste compared to Brazil nuts.

Jackfruit

IN THE MARKET

Look out for jackfruit pulp that has not been discoloured or fruits that have extremely strong odour akin to a Durian. These are probably way too ripe and going over.

Jackfruit

Carambola

AROMATIC AND SHAPED LIKE A STAR

Commonly known as the starfruit, the carambola is a tropical to semitropical fruit that provides flair to any dish. Known more for its spectacular appearance, it still has an interesting flavour profile to offer. The carambola is a small tree native to south and southeast Asia (most likely Philippines) but is cultivated in the Pacific, Latin America, Caribbean and the Southern US. There are two types; a small sour type and a larger sweet one. It is a slow-growing evergreen that usually is 5-12 metres tall. The fruits are oblong in shape ranging from 6-15cm in length and up to 9cm wide. The carambola has a distinctive thin, waxy skin.

Although it is not now found in the wild, the star fruit is originally native to Sri Lanka and the Moluccas, and has been cultivated in Southeast Asia and Malaysia for almost 1,000 years.

The starfruit, or carambola, is a tropical fruit that got its name from the five pointed star shape when cut across the middle of the fruit.

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FLAVOUR PROFILE

The fruits are juicy inside with a crisp texture and the famous star shaped cross-section. Within the genus Averrhoa there are two species which have edible fruit; the Carambola and the Bilimbi. The big distinction between the two is that the Bilimbi cannot be eaten raw due to its extremely sour flavour profile. Carambolas are sweet to sour depending on the variety with a combination of apple, pear and citrus notes. Its strong aromatic quality is produced by the oxalic acid it contains. It is crunch and firm but without fibre producing an extremely juicy fruit often compared to grapes.

SCIENCE OF CARAMBOLA

The more sour the variety of Carambola the greater the concentration of  oxalic acid. The fruits rarely contain more than 4% sugar in the sweeter varieties. The fruit is rich in antioxidants, potassium and vitamin C.

Star Fruit - Carambola

HOW TO USE IT?

The Carambola can be used to make relishes, preserves and added as a juice to drinks. It is often added to puddings and curries. Due to its unusual and attractive appearance it is used as an edible decoration. In its native land it is frequently paired with seafood or in dishes with other fruits.

FLAVOUR COMBINATIONS

Carambola’s tart sweet flavour profile means it combines very well with other strongly fragrant fruits as well dominant flavour profiles. Its sharp flavour cuts through fish and seafood thus complimenting extremely well.

ESSENTIAL TIPS

Star fruit bruise easily, so handle with care. Non-ripe fruit should be turned often, until they are yellow in color and ripe with light brown ribs. Store ripe fruit at room temperature for two to three days or unwashed, and refrigerated, in a plastic bag for up to one to two weeks.

They are great to eat out of hand as these tropical delights do not need to be peeled or seeded before eating. Simply wash the fruit, remove any blemished areas, cut crosswise to get the star shape, and eat.
The sweet variety can be eaten out of hand or sliced and used as a garnish or in salads. They are also used in chutney, curries and tarts. The juice can be used in tropical drinks and smoothies.

Pomelo

RELATED TO THE GRAPEFRUIT BUT THICKER SKINNED

The pomelo (citrus maxima) is the largest member of the citrus group. Its native to south and southeast Asia. In some english speaking countries its also known as the Shaddock. Confusingly in Latin America pomelo often means grapefruit so the distinction between the actual pomelo and a grapefruit is very blurred.

When ripe its pale green to yellow and can range from 10-30cm in size. It has white to pinkish flesh and a characteristic very thick albedo (rind pith). The inner skin is where most of the nutritional benefits are found.

pomelo

 

THE FLAVOUR PROFILE

Its flavour profile really depends on the type and level of ripeness. It can range from sourness to mild sweetness. The rind is smooth to rough in texture with soft flesh very similar to a grapefruit. It has citrus and tangy notes and is quite fragrant. The big difference between the pomelo and grapefruit is that its less bitter. 

SCIENCE OF POMELO

Pomelo is a good source of Vitamin C, high pectin levels and is said to lower cholesterol levels.

Pomelo

HOW DO WE USE IT?

Pomelo is often eaten raw combined with a little sugar to balance its flavour. Its popular as a dessert, added to salads and mixed with yoghurt. A really interesting pairing of pomelo is with tamarind in the spicy Thai salad Yam Som-o. In China the peel is used as a flavour enhancer.

FLAVOUR COMBINATION SUGGESTIONS

Combining pomelo with other sharp intense flavours really can creatre interesting results. Try it with chili, orange, lime, pomegranate, fish sauce, soy sauce as well as with more mellow ingredients like scallop, prawn, cucumber, lychee and crab.

ESSENTIAL TIPS

  • Pomelo’s that feel heavy for their size is usually a good sign of quality.
  • Avoid ones that have large bleamish areas or rotting
  • If the flavour profile is acidic and tart combine with other sweeter ingredients to balance.

Monstera Fruit

MONSTERA DELICIOSA – POISONOUS BUT DELICIOUS

The monstera fruit can be confusing. Let’s start with the number of names its been given around the world. The fruit salad plant, ceriman, Swiss cheese plant, splitleaf philodendron, monster fruit, monstereo, Mexican breadfruit, windowleaf, balazo, and Penglai banana. There are even more than these incredibly. This variation in nomenclature is down to the large distribution the monstera has. With a native range of Southern Mexico to Panama, the monstera (a climbing vine) has been introduced into many other tropical regions even becoming a pest on many Pacific islands.

The fruit of Monstera belongs to the Araceae (Arum family) and grows up to 25 cm long and 3–4 cm diameter. It has the appearance of a long corn/maize or pine cone with honeycomb like scales hexagon. When the fruit is ready to eat its hexagonal scales start to fall away, revealing a cream coloured flesh underneath. One by one the scales are lost.

Monstera Fruit, [monstera deliciosa]. Feb. 17th 2007

THE FLAVOUR PROFILE

The monstera got the ‘deliciosa’ name for a reason. If you ever had custard apple, jackfruit and pineapple then imagine this mix, its pretty close to what monstera tastes like. It has texture akin to that of a pineapple but slightly more tender with a almost jackfruit like sliminess. Its sweet flavour profile relies on the fruit being really ripe. Unripe fruits can irritate the throat because of oxalic acid which can lead to considerable discomfort.

SCIENCE OF THE MONSTERA FRUIT

In recent years the monstera has become a popular ingredient in health supplements. It has a good amount of vitamin C and is a natural energy booster due to the rush of natural sugar and water content.

GETTING IT READY TO EAT

MARKET GUIDE

If you are looking to eat the monstera right away look for fruits that have started to shed their hexagonal scales. This is an indicator that it has begun to ripen.

HOW TO USE IT?

As with many tropical fruits it is better to and easier to eat it alone but the monstera can also be added to ice cream, yoghurt and cereal.

Monstera Deliciosa the Monster

FLAVOUR COMBINATION SUGGESTIONS

The monstera pairs well with cream based ingredients like yoghurt. It also complements fruits which share elements of its flavour profile like the custard apple and pineapple.

ESSENTIAL TIPS

  • The fruit must only be eaten when fully ripe (i.e. when the scales have started to fall off)
  • Do not force off the scales if they are not easily removed. Eat other ‘capsules’ of the fruit from parts that have been exposed.

Tamarillo

THE TOMATO THAT GROWS ON TREES

The Tamarillo (Solanum betacuem) is a fruit native to the Andes of Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Bolivia that is used frequently by locals. It has become popular as well outside its native range with important cultivation in New Zealand as a prime example. Interestingly the introduction of its more exotic current name came about in 1967 when a council in New Zealand decided to change its name from tree tomato to its current tamarillo. The fruit was known by this more common name because it belongs to the same family as the tomato but for exportation purposes a new name was considered necessary.

The fruits come from a tree that can reach around 5m tall with large leaves and a pungent smell. Generally it starts fruiting around 4 years. What makes the Tamarillo stand out are the distinctive egg shaped fruit that come in a range of colours.

Tree Tomatoes

 

THE FLAVOUR PROFILE

The flavour profile of the Tamarillo pulp is actually quite unique. It blends the flavours of passionfruit, kiwi, tomato and cucumber. It can be described as tangy and complex. The skin is tough, bitter and very sour so really it is best to concentrate on the slightly sweeter more delicious inside. The red fruits are more acidic compared to the yellow and orange types which have a sweeter flavour profile.

Backyard tamarillo

 

It is important to note that when buying Tamarillo you have to be aware of the variety you are getting. In a similar fashion to bell peppers, the colour is not an indicator of ripeness. To tell if the fruit is ready to eat, the best way is to touch the skin and if there is a slight give the Tamarillo should be ready.

Another excellent quality of the fruit is it’s high pectin that can be used in preserves, marmalades and jams. Tamarillos are high in potassium, manganese, copper and vitamins A, C, E and B6.

FLAVOUR COMBINATION SUGGESTIONS

The best way to eat the fruit is by scooping the flesh from a halved fruit. In New Zealand where the Tamarillo became commercialised people enjoy spreading the pulp across toast for breakfast.

Fresh tamarillos are frequently blended together with water and sugar to make a juice. This is very popular in various Latin American countries and in Asia. An interesting use to add them to stews (e.g. Boeuf Bourguignon), hollandaise, chutneys and curries. Desserts using this fruit include bavarois and strudel. In India the fruit is used to make sharp, usually pungent dips and chutneys.

In Ecuador, the tamarillo, known as tomate de árbol, is blended with chili peppers to make a hot sauce commonly consumed with local dishes of the Andean region.

ESSENTIAL TIPS

  • Choose fruit that has few blemishes and has a strong colouration.
  • It is recommended to not use the skin of the tamarillo unless it is to be made into a preserve.

Black Sapote

Black Sapote

AS CLOSE AS A FRUIT GETS TO CHOCOLATE

The Black Sapote (Diospyros nigra) is probably one of the most talked about fruits these days. Despite this it still is a relatively under appreciated tropical fruit, however If you are looking for an alternative to the beloved chocolate that is a bit healthier, the Black Sapote could be the answer (with some imagination).

From the same family as the persimmon, the Black Sapote or Chocolate Pudding fruit is native to eastern Mexico all the way down to Colombia. It has gained some attention in other countries and is now cultivated outside its native range including in the sub-tropical regions of the US, Australia and Hawaii.

It is said to have 4 times as much Vitamin C as an orange and is low in fat so is definitely worth a try if you get the chance. The fruit really needs to be eaten ripe. It is after all a persimmon. Anyone who has eaten anything from this family of fruits knows the gummy astringent flavour profile when unripe. It is simply disgusting. In the case of Black Sapote it is picked green then allowed to soften and ultimately turn the distinctive almost black chocolate pudding colour and texture it is famous for. Care has to be taken because a fruit taken from the tree too early will never ripen and ends up just rotten (and not in a good way.)

Black Sapote

 

THE FLAVOUR PROFILE

To say that Black Sapote has a mild chocolate flavour is pretty accurate but obviously it lacks the richness that processed cacao beans mixed with sugar has. The texture of ripe Black Sapote is best compared to that of papaya and has a chocolate pudding softness when served.

IMG_1259

FLAVOUR COMBINATION SUGGESTIONS

As with most tropical fruits, eating it alone is often the most pleasurable way to go. If you want something more dessert like combining the fruit with milk or yoghurt produces really interesting results. Mashing the pulp with orange juice or brandy then served with cream is a very Mexican recipe.

ESSENTIAL TIPS

  • If you have the fortune to spot a Black Sapote in your market make sure it has the same give as a ripe avocado at least.
  • A Black Sapote that is rotting outside is also rotting inside. Discard
  • If you open up the fruit and it is white and unripe there is way to recover it. Find one that is soft to touch and it should be ripe and chocolate coloured inside.

Lemon

Lemon Fruit

IS THIS THE MOST VERSATILE FRUIT IN THE WORLD?

When we think of this everyday fruit most people consider a lemon to be a lemon. Growing up in most cultures lemons are yellow, round and thats about it. The reality is that many varieties exist of this incredibly common and useful fruit.  The Rutaceae family is extensive. It unites the lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit and pomelo plus a whole lot more.

Native to Asia the original lemon was reportedly a hybrid between bitter orange and citron. It is a small evergreen tree that grows really well in anywhere vaguely warm and sub tropical. India, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil are among the leading producers and accordingly lemons feature consistently in each cuisine of these countries.

Almost everywhere a lemon is considered to be yellow or green in colour. Confusion exists between the lemon and lime in many countries especially in Latin America where often the distinction between the two is not that important. A lemon can become a lime depending on who you talk to.

VARIETIES

Many varieties exist including:

Bush Lemon (Subtropical Australia)

Eureka (Similar to the Lisbon and grown year round)

Sorrento (Native to Italy)

Jambiri (Rootstock in South Asia)

Meyer (Cross between a lemon and an orange – Chinese in origin)

Ponderosa (Hybrid of lemon and citron – US in origin)

 

starr-061105-1366-Citrus_jambhiri-fruit-Makawao-Maui

 

THE FLAVOUR PROFILE

When we think of a lemon the sourness immediately comes to mind. It is what makes most of us absolutely love this fruit. It goes with pretty much everything. Add a lemon and your drink tastes better (especially if it cuts through the sweetness of it). No matter how much you look every lemon has a distinct sourness to it no matter how ripe it gets. It’s fragrance when the rind is disturbed is unmistakeable. It really is a super fruit in terms of its flavour profile and versatility.

SCIENCE OF LEMONS

Most lemons contain between 5-8% citric acid. One of its properties allows it to be used for marinading fish. It neutralises amines and converts them to non-volatile ammonium salts. In meat it hydrolyses tough collagen fibres by lowering the ph and denaturing the proteins. Another quality is that it can be used as a short-term preservative like stopping other fruits going brown or keeping a salad that bit more fresh.

It is in low in calories, rich in dietary fibre, excellent source of ascorbic acid and contains a variety of phytochemicals.

MARKET GUIDE

When you come across a pile of lemons at the market look out for those with vibrant colour (either yellow or green), a firm fragrant texture when scratched and no mould. Lemons that are going bad will be soft and even will start to have bacteria growing on it.
 
Meyer Lemons_2

HOW DO WE USE IT?

The pulp, juice and rind are all edible. Even the pith can be of use when heated and strained to give a fragrance to other ingredients.

Some exciting uses for the lemon are in cocktails, fresh lemonade, the Italian classic liquor Limoncello, drizzled over the top of a freshly prepared pancake or squeezed over an Argentine milanesa.

One of the most unusual and ingenious uses for the lemon is showcased throughout Morocco. Preserved lemons are fantastic additions to the Moroccan classic tajine. Lemons preserved in salt and water for several months. Gooey, rich and melt in the mouth soft. What is there not to like about them?

Preserved Lemons
Preserved Lemons

FLAVOUR COMBINATION SUGGESTIONS

When it comes to combining lemon with other ingredients the options are limitless. We could feature over 100 flavour combinations with ease. It really is that good with most things. Here are 20 to get you started. Butter, garlic, olive oil, sugar, soy sauce, chicken, celery, pasta, onion, basil, orange, cinnamon, paprika chili pepper, lime, tomato, rum, vodka, thyme and carrot.

ESSENTIAL TIPS

Choose lemons that feel heavy for their size, with firm skin and an aromatic citrus fragrance when scratched.

Spanish Lime or Genip

Spanish Lime

SPANISH LIME – LYCHEE MEETS LIME

Spanish lime (Melicoccus bijugatus) belongs to the soapberry family sapindaceae and despite the name it is not connected at all to a lime (rutaceae citrus family). It actually got the name as they resemble small unripe limes.

Become of the large number of countries that eat the fruit it has various others names including genip, guinep, genipe, ginepa, quenepa, quenepe, chenet, canepa, mamon, limoncillo, skinip or mamoncillo.

Spanish Lime

FLAVOUR PROFILE

The fruit is about the size of an olive with harder skin that inside have a jelly like consistency. Not only is the pulp edible but also the large seed too. Its tangy creamy pulp ranges from yellow to orange and even pink.

Its flavour profile can go from sweet to sour depending how ripe the fruit is and is best compared to a cross between a lychee and lime. Its rigid tight skin is very reminiscent of the lychee and it can be opened with the teeth, while its appearance and colour are lime like. 

The spanish word for Spanish Lime mamoncillo literally means ‘to suck’ and illustrates exactly how to eat the fruit. The pulp needs to be sucked off the large seed. Quite literally!

SCIENCE OF THE SPANISH LIME

The fruit is full of fibre (lowering cholesterol and preventing constipation), vitamin A that boosts your immune system, vitamin C which is a good antioxidant, calcium that keep bones and teeth strong as well as phosphorus that is important for digestion and regulating hormones. Added to this it is low in fat, calories and cholesterol free. Overall a really healthy fruit!

GETTING IT READY TO USE

The Spanish lime should really be eaten ripe as they can contain toxins if not prepared properly unripe. By removing the outer skin and then sucking the pulp off the seed this maximises the amount of fruit you get to eat. Using anything other than your teeth just gets complicated.

Genip

HOW TO USE IT?

If you don’t fancy eating the spanish lime fresh it can be peeled and then boiled to produce a sauce, jam or jelly. It also can be soaked in rum and sugar to produce the liqueur bili.

The large seed of the fruit is also edible and can be cooked. In South America roast Spanish lime (Quenepa) seeds are used as a substitute for cassava flour when baking.

FLAVOUR COMBINATIONS

In terms of its flavour, annatto goes well with other ingredients that can benefit from an enhancement. Proteins and carbohydrates like rice, chicken, pork, shrimp and plantain can really get a kick from annatto. Combining  this with its interesting colour annatto has found its way into numerous dishes. Smokey/nutty ingredients like cheese, dried chilis, garlic and peanuts pair especially well with it.

ESSENTIAL TIPS

  • With the sweeter variety the Spanish lime can be eaten when its ripe.
  • The sour varieties often need some salt, sugar or other ingredient like chili to balance out the flavour profile.

 

Cashew Fruit

The Cashew fruit (Anacardium occidentale) is probably one of the most bizarre edible products found in nature. In countries outside its cultivation zone live most of their lives not realising that those cashew nuts they have for christmas actually have a really delicious fruit attached to them. In tropical climates the cashew is grown not only for its nuts but also for the bright orange/red juicy fruit. Native to Brazil over 95% of cashew cultivation is found in the northeast of the country.While most who know a bit about ingredients will assume that Brazil is the leading producer of cashews in fact countries like Nigeria, India, Ivory Coast and Vietnam have consistently produced more.

It’s genus Anacardium refers to the shape of the fruit. If you turn a cashew fruit upside (which is how you see it when on the tree) it looks like an inverted heart (Ana-upwards/Cardium-heart). The name Caju derives from the indigenous tupi name acajú which means ‘nut that produces itself.’ The part we consider to be the ‘fruit’ is actually the stalk of the fruit (which is what we know as a cashew nut). Very confusing! For this profile we will just look at the cashew fruit but go here for the nut.

THE FLAVOUR PROFILE

As with most fruits its flavour profile depends on just how ripe it is. It has a natural astringency due to a waxy layer that can be removed by steaming. Very akin to that horrible mouthfeel after eating an unripe Persimmon or Kaki which is down to the high tannin content of the fruit. Luckily once the cashew fruit ripens the flavour evolves from sour/astrigent to a juicy sweet/sour flavour profile that can be made into an excellent fruit juice. We would describe it as mango and orange mixed with a hint of persimmon. If you ever visit the north of Brazil you better search out this fruit as there is no comparison to it when fresh and just picked from the tree.

SCIENCE OF THE CASHEW FRUIT

The Cashew apple is rich in nutrients and has 5 times more Vitamin C than an orange. Chemically, the cashew apple contains volatile compounds, resorcinolic acid, anacardic acids, carotenoids (α-carotene, β-carotene and β-cryptoxanthin), vitamin C, phenols and tannin.


BUYING AND USAGE ADVICE

GETTING IT READY TO EAT

You can go to a food market and buy the cashew fruit much the same way as many other tropical fruits. It can be eaten without any preparation although locals prefer to have it juiced.

Cashew Fruit

MARKET GUIDE

Outside of its cultivation area, most cashew fruits will have been frozen and then transported. Ideally if you can get hold of a fresh cashew fruit that has a deep orange to red colouration and that is slightly soft to touch you are more likely to buy a decent fruit. However if you are not lucky and can’t get it fresh, look out for fruit that has not suffered bruising from the freezing process as well as knocks. The cashew fruit is famous for being fragile so it can easily be ruined by poor packaging and transportation. In fact cashew fruits cannot be transported large distances i.e. to markets in the temperate world. They would ruin too quickly. It is very unlikely to see cashew fruit on a menu in Europe anytime soon. 

KEEPING IT FRESH?

Cashew fruits should be used relatively quickly if bought ripe. They can start to deteriorate if let too long at this state. In fact if you leave it long enough it might well start to ferment into an alcoholic fumed mess. 

COOKING IDEAS

Cashew fruits are used around the world in certain dishes but the predominant outcome is juiced and drunk with a bit of sugar fresh at the market. A popular drink in Brazil is cashew fruit juice mixed with mango, green pepper and citrus. There are examples of it being used in desserts in Panama where it is cooked into a paste-like mixture with sugar and water. It is very popular to use cashew fruit as an ingredient in alcohol as it ferments really well. In the northeast of Brazil they make Cajuina while in India, Tanzania and Mozambique the cashew fruit is mashed and doubled distilled to produce a final product of 40-42% alcohol. 

In case you've never seen- this...

FLAVOUR COMBINATION SUGGESTIONS

The fruit goes really well with other ingredients that bring out its sweetness. Whether that is just sugar or other fruits that have  a high sugar content like mangoes. Condensed milk, coconut milk as well as basically anything sweet and creamy would combine nicely with a ripe cashew fruit.


ESSENTIAL TIPS

  • Don’t decide to eat the cashew ‘nut’ attached to your cashew fruit. It needs to be roasted to remove any toxins. Before that it is going to taste pretty bad.
  • Try to get a ripe cashew fruit with clear skin that has not been bruised. If not expect a fruit that just is not going to taste as good as it could.
  • If the fruit does not give when pressed it is going to be astringent and will not leave you wanting another thats for sure.

Dragon Fruit (Pitahaya)

EXTRAVAGANTLY VISUAL – MEDIOCRE FLAVOUR

The Pitahaya (Hylocereus genus) is also known as the Dragon fruit due to its extravagant appearance and vibrant colour. Its a vine-like epiphytic cactus that produces edible fruit. Similar to a prickly pear but more exotic looking. Native to Central America it is found throughout the continent stretching all the way to Northern Argentina and is cultivated extensively in Asia.

Several varieties exist including the white fleshed, red fleshed and ‘Megalanthus’, a yellow skinned dragon fruit with white flesh. The Pitaya (Stenocereus) is distinct with a sour flavour profile.

 

dragon fruit

 

THE FLAVOUR PROFILE

Very much like the carambola (star fruit) its appearance is more impressive than its flavour profile. It has been described as sorbet like without the sweetness to quite bland. A blend of weak melon, pear and kiwi just about defines it.

SCIENCE OF DRAGON FRUIT

The Dragon fruit consists of mostly water and carbohydrates. Its rich in calcium, iron and phosphorus. The red skin varieties are a good source of vitamin C as well as containing significant quantities of phytoalbumin antioxidants. 

MARKET GUIDE

Dragon fruit is unmistakable even in Asian markets. Its vibrant odd form attracts everyone at first sight. Even though they are not grown outside hotter climates, the Dragon fruit often appears at markets outside its cultivation range because of its novelty. The reality is that its flavour profile does suffer when transported but its still equally attractive.

dragon fruit field

HOW DO WE USE IT?

The flesh of Dragon fruit is eaten raw including the seeds which have a nutty flavour. It is generally combined with other tropical fruits and used as a dessert. The fruit needs to be cut open to expose the inside using a sharp knife that should pass through relatively easily.

FLAVOUR COMBINATION SUGGESTIONS

Various ingredients combine well with the dragon fruit. Kiwi, lime, strawberry, guava, nectarine, chili peppper, coconut, cardamom, watermelon, pear, rambutan, lychee and star fruit are some key examples.

ESSENTIAL TIPS

Fruit must be unblemished and ideally overripe. Best eaten when sour otherwise the flavour profile becomes blander with shipping.

Gac fruit

IS THIS THE NEXT BIG THING? THE GAC FRUIT

So what is this bizarre looking fruit? Momordica cochinchinensis is a Southeast Asian fruit found in a wide stretch of Asia from Southern China into northern Australia. The Gac fruit is a spiny gourd that is intensely red in colour with an orange interior. It is easy to grow in tropical zones but with a short harvest season of 2-3 months this luxury fruit is reserved for ceremonial or festive occasions in Vietnam like new year and weddings.

In recent years the fruit has been marketed outside of Asia in health food shops as dietary supplements. Traditionally the Gac fruit has been used as both food and medicine like a multitude of other ingredients in Asia.

THE FLAVOUR PROFILE

Dubbed the Fruit from Heaven, it has an average flavour profile but visually it really stands apart. Its orange pulp symbolises life, vitality and longevity. It is said to taste like cantaloupe and carrot mixed together. To some though the flavour can be quite bland and benefits from being combined with other stronger fruit flavours.

SCIENCE OF THE GAC FRUIT

It has a strong connection to the health of your eyes as it is said to improve your vision as well a high phytonutrient content. Probably even more important is the extremely high beta-carotene and lycopene found in the fruit (76 times more lycopene than commercial tomatoes). These important nutrients are antioxidants capable of capturing free radicals and thus protecting the body more.  In addition the seeds contain high levels of Vitamin E.

Gac Fruit, Chiang Mai

GETTING IT READY TO EAT

MARKET GUIDE

When buying Gac in Asian markets look out for fruits that have a strong orange to red colour as this is a good indicator of ripeness.

HOW TO USE IT?

Basically there are seemingly two ways to use a Gac Fruit. One is as a juice and the other is to add it to rice. This second option is very traditional in Vietnam. In a dish called xôi gấc, the aril and seeds of the fruit are cooked in glutinous rice which gives the rich an attractive colour and distinctive taste.

XOI GAC

FLAVOUR COMBINATION SUGGESTIONS

In Asia it is seemingly combined with either other fruits or rice. It goes very well with passionfruit and orange as well as other sweet fruit juices.

ESSENTIAL TIPS

  • To get to try it fresh you have to look in South East Asian markets
  • Make sure you try it with rice when visiting Vietnam

Cupuaçu

DELICIOUS, CREAMY AND WITH A TOUCH OF SHERBET!  THEOBROMA GRANDIFLORUM.

Cupuaçu really is a strange fruit. Outside of Brazil its largely unknown.

A cupuaçu tree can reach 20 metres (65ft) but its more likely to range from 5 to 15 metres (16-50ft) in height. As the tree matures, its leaves change from pink-tinted to green leading to the eventual production of fruit. Within its range the fruits become ripe from January to April during the rainy season. The fruit it bears have a very distinctive oblong and brown shape with a fuzzy texture. Reaching 20cm (8in) in length and 1-2kg (2-4lb) it’s size can be compared to a medium sized watermelon. The cupuaçu fruits contain a soft white pulp found within a hard exocarp of 4-7mm. This creamy interior is considered the only edible part.

Pronounced ‘coopwa-soo’, this member of the Cacao family is often considered to be the emblematic fruit of the Amazon and a national fruit of Brazil. It is a tropical rainforest tree found throughout the Amazon basin, cultivated between a huge range from Colombia all the way south to Bolivia and to the Northern states of Brazil.

Cupuaçu

THE FLAVOUR PROFILE

Trying to describe the taste of cupuaçu is not easy. Its not really like anything else. It can be sweet to sour depending on its ripeness. A complex mix of pear, banana, a sharp hint of pineapple, chocolate notes, passionfruit, melon and a sherbet like kick. Its aroma is an intense mix of chocolate and pineapple with hints of the yeasty smell of the custard apple family. The interior is smooth and creamy and in juice form very pulpy.

SCIENCE OF CUPUAÇU

Cupuaçu has a caffeine like effect giving an synergistic impact when consumed. It contains theacrine in contrast to the xanthines (caffeine, theobromine & theophylline) found in the cacao bean which is also a Theobroma species. It has been speculated that it has possible superfruit qualities due to high amounts of phytochemicals. It is heavy with vitamin b1, b2, b3, fatty and amino acids, at least 9 antioxidants and a high flavonoid content.

Cupuacu

HOW TO USE IT?

Cupuaçu is considered to have a delicious flavour profile. It is very rare to see it used in any other form other than as a raw pulp as heat can alter its consistency and taste considerably. Brazil is the centre of Cupuaçu consumption where it is loved as a fruit juice, as an ice cream flavour or simply scooped out of the hard exocarp and eaten fresh. Other uses include in sweets, jams and desserts.