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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


The African Cherry Orange - 'Citropsis articulata' - fam: Rutaceae

Citropsis articulata, more commonly known as The African Cherry Orange, West African cherry orange, Uganda cherry orange, Agbalumo, Udara, Otien, and locally, in Uganda, as Omuboro, is a type of flowering plant in the citrus family. It is native to tropical West Africa, Ghana, DR Congo, and Uganda, where an infusion made of the ground root of omuboro, drunk once a day for three days is considered to be a powerful aphrodisiac - for men only. Science has not investigated the veracity of this belief. The herbal preparation is sold locally.

Conservationists in Uganda are concerned that demand for the plant is such that the species may require conservation efforts. 1

The tangerine-like fruits have a typically sweet orange-like flavour. Nutritional experts say that, this fruit contains 5 per cent of the daily recommended value, per serving, of vitamin C, and vitamin A. It is also believed that the leaves of the fruit, condensed glucose levels in diabetic rabbits, the same function that insulin in the human body performs. Furthermore, one serving of the cherry orange serves up to 2 per cent iron, a mineral very important for the daily oxygenation your body. They can also be consumed generously as a great source of phytochemical. 2

REFERENCES: Wikipedia 1 Fruits 2


Monday, May 15, 2017

The Noni - 'Morinda citrifolia ' - fam: Rubiaceae

The Noni, morinda citrifolia, is a tree in the coffee family, Rubiaceae. Its native range extends through Southeast Asia and Australasia, and the species is now cultivated throughout the tropics and widely naturalized. Among some 100 names for the fruit across different regions are the more common English names, Great Morinda, Indian Mulberry, Noni, Beach Mulberry, and Cheese, or Vomit fruit.

The plant bears flowers and fruits, all year round. The fruit is a multiple fruit that has a pungent odour when ripening, and is hence also known as Cheese fruit, or even Vomit fruit. It is oval in shape and reaches 10–18 cms (3.9–7.1 ins) size. Green at first, the fruit turns yellow then almost white, as it ripens. It contains many seeds. 1

A variety of beverages (juice drinks), and powders are made from dried, ripe, or unripe fruits. Cosmetic products (lotions, soaps), oil (from seeds), and leaf powders (for encapsulation, or pills) have been introduced into the consumer market. Noni is sometimes called starvation fruit. Despite its strong smell and bitter taste, the fruit is nevertheless eaten as a famine food, and, in some Pacific islands, even a staple food, either raw or cooked. Southeast Asians, and Australian Aborigines, consume the fruit raw with salt, or cook it with curry. The seeds are edible when roasted. In Thai cuisine, the leaves, known as bai-yo, are used as a green vegetable, the kaeng bai yo, in which the leaves are cooked with coconut milk. The fruit, luk-yo, is added as a salad ingredient to some versions of somtam, the Green Papaya salad. 1

Proponents claim that the Noni fruit, and its juice, can be used to treat cancer, diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol, high blood pressure, HIV, rheumatism, psoriasis, allergies, infection, and inflammation. Some believe that the fruit can relieve sinus infections, menstrual cramps, arthritis, ulcers, sprains, injuries, depression, senility, poor digestion, atherosclerosis, addiction, colds, flu, and headaches. It is further claimed that the juice can heal scratches on the cornea of the eye. 2

Some other outrageous claims for the healing properties of the various parts of the plant, are:

The Stem - Jaundice, hypertension

The Leaves - flowers, fruit, bark - eye conditions, skin wounds, abscesses, gum and throat disease, respiratory ailments, constipation, fever, laxative, relieves cough, nausea, colic (Malaysia), tuberculosis, sprains, deep bruising, rheumatism, bone fractures, dislocations, hypertension, stomach ache, diabetes, loss of appetite, urinary tract ailments, abdominal swelling, hernias, vitamin A deficiency.

The Fruit - lumbago, asthma, dysentery (Indochina), head lice (Hawaii), wound poultice, broken bones, sores or scabs, sore throat, peeling and cracking of toes and feet, cuts, wounds, abscesses, mouth and gum infections, toothaches, appetite and brain stimulant food, boils, carbuncles, tuberculosis, sprains, deep bruises, rheumatism, stomach ulcers, hypertension, Philippines this is used for acne and skin problems. 2

The Seeds - Scalp insecticide, insect repellant.

There is no scientific evidence to support these claims. 2

Today, Noni fruit, leaves, flowers, stems, bark, and roots are still used to make medicine for a long list of ailments. However, the effectiveness of Noni for these uses has not been proven. A study of Noni freeze-dried fruit extract is underway at The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (USA), but the results are not yet in. In the meantime, the FDA has issued multiple warnings to Noni manufacturers about health claims that aren’t backed up by fact. 3

REFERENCES: Wikipedia 1 ebay article 2 WebMD 3


The Malabar Plum - 'Syzygium Jambos' - fam: Myrtaceae

Native to the East Indies, the Syzygium Jambos tree has glossy narrow leaves, and dark red new growth. The yellow fruit is 'rose petal' flavoured, and in a class of its own for taste. The tree is virtually never without fruit or flowers, fruiting for about 6 months of the year. The white fluffy flowers are spectacular and attract many bees and birds with their fragrance. 1

The writer has two of these trees in his front yard, and can attest to the attraction of bees and birds to its spindly, fluffy flowers - and fruit. Having never come across these before moving to this area of NSW, I wondered what they were. Instead of wasting time on a random search on my laptop, I proceeded to the local nursery, with a sample of the fruit, and leaves. Within 5 minutes, I was the proud owner of two 'Syzygium jambos' trees - and delighted with the flavour from the (carefully tested) fruit.

The edible fruit of Syzygium jambos, is shaped like some kinds of guava; in fact, the fruit is so like the guava in appearance that people unfamiliar with it may mistake it for a guava on sight. However, the fragrance, flavour and texture are different, and instead of containing dozens of small, hard seeds set in a jelly-like tissue, as a guava does, the fruit of Syzygium jambos usually contains one or two large, unarmoured seeds about 1 cm in diameter, lying loose in a slightly fluffy cavity when ripe. Shaking a fruit to feel whether the seeds rattle, gives some indication whether it is ripe. The skin is thin and waxy. The flowers are described by some as fragrant, though this appears to be a variable attribute. The ripe fruit, however, has a strong, pleasant floral bouquet, hence such common names as "Rose apple" and "pomarrosa". 2 In fact, if it doesn't rattle with a seed, don't eat it!

Syzygium jambos has several common names, reflecting the large number of regions in which it occurs as a garden, or fruit tree, or as an invader. The names include Malabar Plum (Sydney NSW), Champakka, Mountain Apple (champoo, chom pu, or chom-phu). Terms like 'plum rose', 'water apple', 'Cloud apple', 'Wax apple', 'Malay apple', 'Jambrosade', 'Pomarrosa', or the English equivalent, 'Rose Apple'. Several of these names also are applied to other species of Syzygium, while 'Jambu' can also mean a Guava. 2

REFERENCES: Daleys Fruit Tree Nursery 1 Wikipedia 2