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Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Carambola, or Starfruit - 'Averrhoa carambola' - fam: Oxalidaceae

'Averrhoa carambola', better known as 'Starfruit', is a species of tree native to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Seychelles 1.

It has also been grown in Far North Queensland, Australia, for a long time, however, the fruit of this variety tends to be small and sour. The new selections are generally larger and more flavoursome 2. The carambola has been cultivated in Asia since ancient times. Carambolas (fwang tung) are a good substitute for apples in recipes.

The carambola is appropriately nicknamed Starfruit for it's five golden wings that reveal a star-shaped pattern when cut crosswise. The juicy transparent flesh has a citrus quality with a floral accent and is delicious eaten fresh, made into juice or into a delicious chutney 3.

As tasty and palatable as the Starfruit is, people should be aware that there have been reports of intoxication in dialysis and uremic patients caused by a neurotoxin called caramboxin present in the fruit. Such toxin is normally filtered by the kidneys, but patients in dialysis or suffering from kidney deficiencies may show severe symptoms, in a few cases fatal, after drinking the fruit juice 4.

REFERENCES: Wikipedia - Carambola 1 Australian Tropical 2 Daleys Fruit Tree Nursery 3 Wikipedia - Averrhoa carambola 4


The Canistel, or Yellow Sapote - 'Pouteria campechiana' - fam: Sapotaceae

The 'canistel' is an evergreen tree native to southern Mexico and Central America. It is cultivated in other countries, such as Brazil, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines for its fruit. The shape and size of the fruit is highly variable, depending on the cultivar. The better selections consistently produce large ovate fruit with glossy skin weighing upwards of 14 ounces 1.

A fully mature fruit shows an intense yellow skin color. It will eventually soften and drop from the tree. Insects and birds avoid the fruit flesh, perhaps because of its astringent properties, that are much reduced in senescent fruits, but still perceptible to the human palate.

The fruit is round to oval and matures to a yellow-orange colour hence its other common name of 'egg fruit' and yellow sapote. The yellow flesh has a sweet earthy flavour and a meaty texture similar to a boiled egg. The fruit is delicious eaten fresh out of hand with a little salt and lemon juice added. Canistels are often added to sweet custards or made into delicious eggnog-like milk shakes by blending with milk. The fruits are very rich, the flesh can be dried and ground into a powder which is than used as a flavouring for sweet desserts 2 .

A number of varieties are grown in Australia, such as the 'Lyndall', 'Emma', 'Gray' and the 'Round', mainly in northern NSW and northern Queensland 3.

REFERENCES: Wikipedia 1 Australian Tropical Foods . com 2 Daleys Fruit Tree Nursery 3


Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Guava - 'Psidium guajava' - fam: Myrtaceae

Round, to pear-shaped, the Guava's flesh contains edible seeds, and the fruit weighs in the range from 150 to 400 gms. Guavas have an average diameter between 2.5 to 10 cms. It varies from white to salmon-red in colour, depending on the variety ... Thai white, Common and Cherry. Guavas should not be peeled because the edible rind has a high concentration of Vitamin C.

The Guava is native to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. (Although related species may also be called guavas, they belong to other species or genera, such as the 'pineapple guava' Acca sellowiana).

The fruit can be assertive in flavour, sweet and sour 1. Because of its high level of pectin, guavas are extensively used to make candies, preserves, jellies, jams, and marmalades 2

REFERENCES: Australian Tropical Foods 1 and Wikipedia 2


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Passionfruit - 'Passiflora edulis' - fam: Passifloraceae

The 'Passiflora edulis' is a vine species of passion flower that is native to southern Brazil, and Paraguay, to northern Argentina. It is cultivated commercially in tropical and subtropical areas for its sweet, seedy fruit. The passion fruit is a pepo, a type of berry, round to oval, either yellow, or dark purple at maturity, with a soft to firm, juicy interior filled with numerous seeds. The fruit is both eaten, and juiced 1. Passionfruit juice is often added to other fruit juices to enhance aroma. Passionfruit enhances the flavour of all other fruits 2.

To eat fresh, simply cut the fruit in half, and scoop out the pulp and seeds with a spoon. Both are edible, but the pulp can be strained to make a refreshing drink. Strained fruit can also be made into ice-cream and sorbets 2.

In Australia and New Zealand, it is available commercially, both fresh, and tinned. It is added to fruit salads, and fresh fruit pulp, or passion fruit sauce, is commonly used in desserts, including as a topping for pavlova (a regional meringue cake), and ice cream, a flavouring for cheesecake, and in the icing of vanilla slices. A passionfruit-flavored soft drink, called Passiona, has also been manufactured in Australia, since the 1920s. It can be used in some alcoholic cocktails 1.

REFERENCES: Wikipedia 1 and Australian Tropical Foods 2


The Sapodilla - 'manilkara zapota' - fam: Sapotaceae

I LOVE these fruit. I ate them, at every opportunity, when I lived in Thailand, where they are called, 'Lamoot '.

The Sapodilla, 'manilkara zapota', is, strangely, not of the same family as the Black Sapote, 'diospyros digyna', fam: Ebenaceae, or the White Sapote, 'casimiroa edulis', fam: Rutaceae, but is of, and looks similar to, the Mamey Sapote ... (which is the same family) - besides that, the Sapodilla looks nothing like the Black Sapote (Chocolate Pudding Fruit) ! Go figure the naming system ?

The Sapodilla originated in Central America, and the Caribbean, and was introduced to the Philippines, during Spanish colonization. It is grown in large quantities in Pakistan, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Mexico1.

The fruit is a large berry, 4–8 cms (1½–3 in) in diameter. Inside, its flesh ranges from a pale yellow to an earthy brown color with a grainy texture akin to that of a well-ripened pear. Each fruit contains one to six seeds that are hard, glossy, and black, resembling beans, with a hook at one end that can catch in the throat if swallowed !!
The fruit has an exceptionally sweet, malty flavour. The unripe fruit is hard to the touch, and contains high amounts of saponin, which has astringent properties, similar to tannin, in that it dries out the mouth1.

Preparation is interesting as well. Sapodillas can be eaten fresh by simply cutting them in half, scooping out the flesh and removing the seeds, or, try and cut a "zig-zag" pattern in the fruit , around the middle, which affords you an ease of locating the seeds. This may be why the lamoot is favoured by many Thai Fruit Carvers. Also, a squeeze of lime, or lemon, will enhance the flavour. The flesh can be mashed and stirred into cream, or custard, or made into ice-cream, and mousses. It can also be added to cake, and pancake mix. Excellent when dried. The skin can also be eaten. 2

REFERENCES: Wikipedia 1 - Australian Tropical Foods 2


Monday, April 17, 2017

The Finger Lime - 'citrus australasica' - fam: Rutaceae

Australia has six species of native citrus, with the most well known and cultivated species being the 'Finger Lime'. The Australian Finger Lime is native to the rainforests of the border ranges of SE Queensland and Northern NSW.

In its natural habitat, the Finger Lime grows as an understorey shrub, or tree, up to 6 metres in height on a range of soil types 1.

The fruit of the Australian Finger Lime is sought after by top restaurants around the world. Often described as 'lime caviar' for its small bead-like crystals of tangy juice, it’s used to pep up drinks, in desserts, as a garnish and even to make marmalade. For the home gardener, it is also an attractive tree, growing to six metres, and its thorns provide a perfect habitat for small birds.

The flowers are 10 to 14mm in diameter, white, or pale pink, and appear in late summer (Feb., in Australia) and autumn (May, in Australia). They are followed by elongated fruits about 3-12 cms long. The fruits ripen in winter (Jun.-Aug,) through to spring (Sept.- Nov.) and may be green, yellow, black, purple or red. The pulp is green, yellow or pink 2.

With a delicious aroma of fresh, zesty citrus and a hint of cooked apples, the taste of the Finger Lime is tart with some astringency and bitterness. The pulp contains juice vesicles that resemble caviar. These caviar-like pearls make Finger Lime a popular garnish, while its taste is gaining popularity with chefs throughout Australia 3.

REFERENCES: NSW Government - Prime Facts 1 - Sustainable Gardening Australia 2 - The Australian Super Food Co. 3


Jaboticaba - 'plinia (myrciaria) cauliflora' - fam: Myrtaceae

The Jaboticaba, (or Jabuticaba), fruit tree, has a habit of producing the fruit directly on the trunk. so making this a visually, striking tree. The black fruit has an edible skin, thin, but tough. The texture is similar to a grape, with a sweet and aromatic flavour. Jaboticaba’s are perhaps the most popular native fruit-bearers of Brazil. They have been cultivated since pre-Columbian times throughout Brazil. 1

Fruit is mature 30 days after flowering. A mature tree will produce fruit 5 to 6 times a year. Grape-like in appearance but with a thicker and tougher maroon-purple to black skin. It ranges from a ½ to 1¼ inch in diameter. The whitish gelatinous pulp contains 1 to 4 seeds and has a pleasant grape-like flavour. The skin has a slightly turpentine, but not unpleasant flavour 2.

Choose fruit, which is full and not shrivelled or too soft. Can be frozen whole. Fresh fruit is delicious eaten out-of-hand and can be made into jellies, jams and wine. The skin is high in tannin and can be bitter, however, it contributes to the deep red colour of jams, jellies, and wines. Frozen fruit can be used as a garnish in fruit salads. By squeezing the fruit between the thumb and forefinger, you can cause the skin to split, and the fruit to slip into your mouth. The skin contains tannin and it is recommended to avoid ingesting it in large quantities. The fruit can be made into jelly, marmalade and wine 2.

A favourite with Bonsai adepts, it is a versatile small tree with decorative coppery foliage that practically ensures success as an ornamental specimen tree, or superb hedge 3.

> REFERENCES: Wikipedia 1 - Australian Tropical Foods 2 - Wigert's Bonsai 3