Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fruits and Veggies - Yes, They're Special!!!

As we look at the final days of summer, and head into fall, we will see an increase in harvesting, imports, and exports. Washington is steadily increasing its apple harvest, and brazil is now the hot importer for mangoes. There are some specialty produce items that are increasing in popularity throughout the continent that may be little known.

Today, we look at an A to Z of Specialties:

A – Ajis: A very hot pepper, ranging in color from yellow to red.

B – Belgian Endive: this is a relative to chicory; it has a white head of yellow-tipped, closely wrapped leaves and a mild bitter flavor.

C – Cocktail Avocado: A seedless, pit-less fruit of the fuerte avocado; it has a buttery flavor, is 2 ½ inches long, and about 1 inch in diameter.

D – Daikon: Resembles a white carrot; it has a juicy-crisp flesh that tastes slightly hotter than a radish. It is about a foot long and weighs between ½ to 2 lbs. It can also be called a Japanese or oriental radish.

E – Epazote: A herb that has a unique pungent flavor and a strong, camphor-like aroma. Arriba! It is a staple of Mexican cuisine!

F – Feijoa: An oval-shaped fruit that has a dark green skin and a creamy white flesh, with tiny edible seeds. The skin is tart, and the flesh has a tropical taste.

G – Gooseberries: A tart berry that are similar in size and color to green seedless grapes. They must be cooked before eating.

H – Honeyloupe: A cross between a cantaloupe and a honeydew; they are mild in flavor and contain few seeds.

I – Ita Palm Fruit: Grown in bunches that can weigh up to 110 lbs on the palm tree . They are covered in reddish-brown or reddish-yellow scales. The center of the fruit contains a hard, oval shaped seed, that is also edible.

J – Jackfruit: Available both fresh and dried. Fresh jackfruit can be cooked when it is still green and can be served as a vegetable. The fruit can also be allowed to ripen, at which time it can be eaten raw or cooked or used in ice cream. But be warned, the fully ripe jackfruit has an unpleasant odor and deteriorate quickly after ripening.

K – Kabocha Squash: Also referred to as Japanese pumpkin or winter squash. They have deep green skins, and a rich sweetness that has been described as a balance between a sweet potato and a pumpkin.

L – Lily Root: This root looks like a solid link chain. It has a reddish brown skin and a creamy white flesh with a crisp texture.

M – Mangosteen: An usual fruit that has a thick, very hard rind. It is about the size of a mandarin orange, with an interior that is also similar to an orange. The juicy flesh has the flavor or peach and pineapple. The pulp is white and juicy with a sweet tart flavor.

N – Nir Grass: Varieties can be dark green or pale yellow with a round stem topped by a pointed flower bud. They are also referred to as Chinese chives.

O – Oca: Prized for their brilliant colors of red and White, as well as their slightly acidic flavor. Oca is said to taste like potatoes that already have sour cream. What could be better??!

P – Pepino Melon: An oval-shaped fruit that has a smooth, firm skin that is yellow with purple stripes when ripe. The flavor is mildly sweet, with a sweet aroma.

Q – Quince: There are two main varieties: perfumed quince and pineapple quince. Both must be cooked before eating. Perfumed quince has a smooth yellow skin and a white flesh that is tart. Pineapple quince has a golden yellow skin, white flesh, and an acidic pineapple flavor.

R – Rambutan: Is oval shaped with a bright red or yellow skin covered with short, soft, hair-like spikes. The flesh is white or semi-transparent with a crisp, sweet taste.

S – Salicornia: A green succulent that resembles baby aloe jointed together; tweet tweet – it can also look like birds’ feet! It is crunchy and salty.

T – Tamarillo: Also commonly known as the “tree tomato.” It comes in red, gold, or amber varieties. The flesh is bitter, almost meaty.

U – Ugli Tangelo / Uniq Fruit: These are thought to be a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit. The fruit has a thick, loose skin which may vary in color from light green to yellow-orange.

V – Voavanga: Also known as the Spanish Tamarind; it is a round fruit, that is green with white dots, and turns brown when fully ripe. The pulp is moderately juicy with a slightly acidic flavor.

W – Wampee: Small, spherical and about 1 inch in diameter; it has a yellow or yellow-brown, translucent skin white a white, jelly-like flesh. The flavor is tart.

X – Xigua: An edible fruit that looks very similar to a watermelon, only shorter in size.

Y – Yucca: Shaped like an elongated sweet potato, yucca has pink to brown rough skin and dense, softly fibrous, white flesh. And the name is fun to say too!!!

Z – Ziziphus: An edible fruit, that has a yellow-brown, red, or black flesh. It is often very sweet and sugary, and is thought to be similar to a date in texture and flavor.

So, here’s our challenge! Branch out, try something from the list, and let us know what you think!!!


The Packer. The Guide 2011: Produce Availability & Merchandising Guide. Vol CXVIII. No. 54.

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