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Friday, June 2, 2017

Watermelon - 'Citrullus lanatus' - fam: Cucurbitaceae

Watermelon, Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus, is a scrambling and trailing vine in the flowering plant family Cucurbitaceae. The species originated in southern Africa, where there is evidence of its cultivation in Ancient Egypt. It is grown in tropical and sub-tropical areas worldwide for its large edible fruit, also known as a watermelon, which is a special kind of berry with a hard rind and no internal division, botanically called a pepo. The sweet, juicy flesh is usually deep red to pink, with many black seeds. The fruit can be eaten raw or pickled and the rind is edible after cooking.

Considerable breeding effort has been put into disease-resistant varieties and into developing a 'seedless' strain with only digestible white seeds. Many cultivars are available that produce mature fruit within 100 days of planting the crop.

Watermelons are a sweet, popular fruit of summer, usually consumed fresh in slices, diced in mixed fruit salads, or as juice. Watermelon juice can be blended with other fruit juices or made into wine.

The seeds have a nutty flavor and can be dried and roasted, or ground into flour. In China, the seeds are eaten at Chinese New Year celebrations. In Vietnamese culture, watermelon seeds are consumed during the Vietnamese New Year's holiday, Tết, as a snack.

Watermelon rinds may be eaten, but most people avoid eating them due to their unappealing flavor. They are used for making pickles, sometimes eaten as a vegetable, stir-fried or stewed.

A variety of Citrullus lanatus, grows wild in the Kalahari Desert, where it is known as 'tsamma'. The fruits are used by the San people and wild animals for both water and nourishment, allowing survival on a diet of tsamma for six weeks. 1

REFERENCES: Wikipedia 1


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sea Buckthorn Berries - 'Hippophae rhamnoides' - fam: Elaeagnaceae

Hippophae is a genus of Sea Buckthorns, deciduous shrubs in the family Elaeagnaceae. The name sea buckthorn, may be hyphenated to avoid confusion with the buckthorns, Rhamnus, family Rhamnaceae, although Hippophae rhamnoides, the common sea buckthorn, is by far the most widespread of the species in the genus, with the ranges of its eight subspecies extending from the Atlantic coasts of Europe across to northwestern Mongolia and northwestern China. In western Europe, it is largely confined to sea coasts where salt spray off the sea prevents other larger plants from out-competing it, but in central Asia, it is more widespread in dry semi-desert sites where other plants cannot survive the dry conditions.

It is also referred to as Sandthorn, Sallowthorn, or Seaberry.

Sea buckthorn berries are edible and nutritious, though astringent, sour and oily, unpleasant to eat raw, unless 'bletted' (frosted to reduce the astringency) and/or mixed as a drink with sweeter substances such as apple or grape juice. Additionally, malolactic fermentation of sea buckthorn juice reduces sourness, thus in general enhances sensory properties. The mechanism behind this change is transformation of malic acid into lactic acid in microbial metabolism.

When the berries are pressed, the resulting sea buckthorn juice separates into three layers: on top is a thick, orange cream; in the middle, a layer containing sea buckthorn's characteristic high content of saturated and polyunsaturated fats; and the bottom layer is sediment and juice. Containing fat sources applicable for cosmetic purposes, the upper two layers can be processed for skin creams and liniments, whereas the bottom layer can be used for edible products such as syrup.

Besides juice, sea buckthorn fruit can be used to make pies, jams, lotions, teas, fruit wines, and liquors. The juice or pulp has other potential applications in foods, beverages, or cosmetics products. Fruit drinks were among the earliest sea buckthorn products developed in China. Sea buckthorn-based juice is popular in Germany and Scandinavian countries. It provides a nutritious beverage, rich in vitamin C and carotenoids.

The seed and pulp oils have nutritional properties that vary under different processing methods. Sea buckthorn oils are used as a source for ingredients in several commercially available cosmetic products and nutritional supplements.

REFERENCES: Wikipedia 1


The Kumquat- 'Citrus japonica' - fam: Rutaceae

The Kumquat plant, Citrus japonica, is native to south Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. They have long been cultivated in India, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and southeast Asia. 1

There are many varieties of Kumquat, including, for example, Kumquat nagami, and Kumquat meiwa, which have brilliant deep orange colour, with highly aromatic skins. The fruit holds on the tree for a long period adding to its high ornamental value. It can be eaten whole as a fresh fruit or in the same way as other kumquats.

The Jiangsu, 1 and Fortunella species, as with many of the Kumquat family, have an abundance of dark orange fruit that is delicious eaten fresh or used in marmalades and jams. They make very ornamental tub specimens. 2

Although kumquats taste just like that of other citrus category fruits, they are distinguished in a way that they can be eaten completely including the peel. A mature kumquat tree bears several hundred olive-sized, brilliant orange color fruits in the winter. On the Interior, the fruit resembles tiny juicy orange-like segments (arils), firmly adhering to each other and with the peel. The pulp has 1-2 seeds placed centrally. The seeds are bitter in taste as in oranges, and are generally, disguarded. 3

  • Kumquat has a calorific value equivalent to that of grapes.
  • Its peel is rich in many essential oils, antioxidants, and fiber. 100 g whole kumquats provide 6.7 g or 17% of daily recommended levels of fiber that is composed of tannins, pectin, hemicellulose, and other non-starch polysaccharides (NSP).
  • Fresh kumquats are packed with numerous health benefiting polyphenolic flavonoid anti-oxidants such as carotenes, lutein, zeaxanthin, tannins, etc. Kumquat peel composes many important essential oils, including limonene, pinene, α-bergamotene, caryophyllene, α-humulene, and α-murolene.
  • Fresh fruits contain adequate levels of some of the antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, C, and E.
  • Kumquat has good levels of the B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, niacin, pyridoxine, folates, and pantothenic acid.
  • Kumquats are a modest source of minerals like calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, iron, selenium, and zinc. 3

REFERENCES: Wikipedia 1 Daleys Fruit Tree Nursery 2 Nutrition and 3


Friday, May 26, 2017

Salak - 'Salacca zalacca' - fam: Arecaceae

The Salak, Salacca zalacca, also known as the Snake Fruit, because of its reddish-brown, scaly skin, is a species of palm tree, fam: Arecaceae, native to Java, and Sumatra, in Indonesia. It is cultivated in other regions as a food crop, and reportedly naturalized in Bali, Lombok, Timor, Thailand, Malaysia, Maluku, and Sulawesi.

The pulp is edible. The fruit can be peeled by pinching the tip, which should cause the skin to slough off so it can be pulled away. The fruit inside consists of three lobes with the two larger ones, or even all three, containing a large inedible seed. The lobes resemble, and have the consistency of, large peeled garlic cloves. The taste is usually sweet and acidic, with a strong astringent edge, but its apple-like texture can vary from very dry, and crumbly, variable cultivars, salak pondoh from Yogyakarta, to moist, and crunchy, salak Bali. 1

The fruits grow in clusters at the base of the palm, and are about the size and shape of a ripe fig, with a distinct tip.

Generally eaten fresh, the Salak fruit can also be pickled, or hot packed into syrup. An apple texture, and pineapple sweetness, gives good possibilities in pies etc. 2

REFERENCES: Wikipedia 1 Australian Tropical Foods 2


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Babaco - 'Carica pentagona' - fam: Caricaceae

The Babaco, 'Carica pentagona' is a hybrid between 'Vasconcellea cundinamarcensis' (syn. Carica pubescens, 'Mountain Papaya'), and 'Vasconcellea stipulata' (syn. Carica stipulata, 'Toronche') 1. The Babaco is presumed to have originated in the central south highlands of Ecuador. In more recent times the Babaco was introduced into New Zealand where it is grown commercially. In Israel, and other parts of the Middle East, the plant is also being grown commercially in greenhouses, and it was introduced to southern California, in the 1970's, but has limited production. 2

The babaco fruit is seedless, and the smooth skin can be eaten, and is said to have tastes of strawberry, papaya, kiwi and pineapple. The fruit is pentagonal in shape, therefore giving it the scientific name of 'Carica pentagona'. The fruit is not especially acidic, but contains Papain, a proteolytic enzyme, which may cause mild irritation or 'burns'.

Like the papaya, the babaco is grown for its edible fruit, and for its fruit juice. Cultivation away from its native range has been successful as far south as New Zealand, and as far north as California, some regions of England, Guernsey, Channel Islands, and somewhat also in Italy (mostly Sicily and Calabria). 1

REFERENCES: Wikipedia 1 California Rare Fruit Growers 2


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Miracle Fruit - 'Synsepalum dulcificum' - fam: Sapotaceae

The Miracle Fruit is one name for 'Synsepalum dulcificum', although, unfortunately, in name only. It gets that name for the fact that, when the berry from the tree is chewed before a meal, the Miraculin within the berry causes sour foods, like lemons and limes, to taste sweet. The effect lasts from 10 minutes, to two hours, and is perfectly natural, and has no adverse side effects! 1

Common names for this species, and its berry, include Miracle Fruit, Miracle Berry, Miraculous Berry, Sweet Berry, and in West Africa, where the species originates, Agbayun, Taami, Asaa, and Ledidi. 2

The berries themselves have low sugar content and a mildly sweet tang, and are about the size of coffee beans.

REFERENCES: Rare Fruit Australia Inc. 1 Wikipedia 2


The Blackcurrant - 'Ribes nigrum' - fam: Grossulariaceae

The Blackcurrant, 'Ribes nigrum', is a woody shrub in the family Grossulariaceae, grown for its piquant berries.

The blackcurrant is native to northern Europe, and Asia. It was cultivated in Russia by the 11th century, when it was present in monastery gardens, and also grown in towns, and settlements. Cultivation in Europe is thought to have started around the last decades of the 17th century. Decoction of the leaves, bark, or roots, was also used as traditional remedies. 1

The fruit of blackcurrants can be eaten raw, but it has a strong, tart flavour. It can be made into jams and jellies which set readily because of the fruit's high content of pectin, and acid. For culinary use, the fruit is usually cooked with sugar to produce a purée, which can then be passed through muslin to separate the juice. The purée can be used to make blackcurrant preserves, and be included in cheesecakes, yogurt, ice cream, desserts, sorbets and many other sweet dishes. The exceptionally strong flavour can be moderated by combining it with other fruits, such as raspberries, and strawberries in summer puddings, or apples in crumbles, and pies. The juice can be used in syrups, and cordials. 1

According to Healthline 2, Blackcurrants have a high concentration of:

People use the whole blackcurrant plant, from the leaves to the seeds, for many conditions. The most common form is blackcurrant seed oil, but you can also make infusions, and teas, out of the plant’s leaves, fresh or dried. People take blackcurrant to help their:

  • blood flow
  • immune system
  • eye health
  • gut health
  • kidney health

Blackcurrant extracts are shown to reduce risk factors for metabolic conditions such as type 1 and 2 diabetes. 2

REFERENCES: Wikipedia 1 Healthline 2