In this second edition of What in the World… Food Edition, I bring you more exotic fruits from the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific Ocean. In case you missed the first What In The World… Food Edition click here to catch up.
Growing up in the Caribbean I’ve been lucky to have tasted all of these at some point in my life. My favorite on this list is Sorrel. The taste of sorrel stays with you forever. It is rich, slightly sweet and a bit tangy. Sorrel is best used in the Caribbean to make juice, but has many other uses. It is sold commercially by Carib Brewery Limited under their Shandy label. I was reunited with Shandy Sorrel 3 months ago when I returned home to visit my relatives, and boy was it good!
So. What in the world is Sorrel?
The sorrel plant is a member of the hibiscus family, it blooms around the Christmas season. The plant has dark green leaves, red stems and yellow hibiscus-like flowers with deep red blotches at the base. The flowers, fruits and leaves of sorrel are all edible. The seeds likewise may be eaten. They are best roasted or ground up to make flour for baking.
The fruits can be brewed to make tea, and also used in salads, jellies, sauces, soups, jams, beverages, chutneys, pickles, tarts, puddings, syrups and wine. In addition sorrel can be used as medication – heated leaves can be applied to cracks in the feet, on boils and for ulcers. Lotion made from its leaves can be used on sores and wounds.
Barbadine can be eaten as a vegetable, dessert, a drink, or made into jelly.
The unripened fruit can be steamed, boiled, breaded and cooked in butter, milk, seasoning and nutmeg.
Barbadine makes awesome punch. Here is a simple Barbadine Punch recipe.
Barbadine grows on a vine and its leaves can be used to make tea, which helps reduce high blood-pressure and diabetes.
Barbadine can also be used to make ice-cream.
When the fruit is ripe the inner skin can be removed and boiled for 2 hours. The pulp is simmered separately to extract the juice. The extracted juices are combined, sugar and lemon juice is added and boiled until it turns to jelly.
Cooked Peewah fruit (left). Uncooked (right)
Say wah? Peewah is grown from a seed and each seed can produce a distinct species of fruit. Peewah cannot be eaten raw it must be boiled (cooked) with salt or any selected spices and eaten after the skin is peeled off.
I remember Peewah being a very boring fruit. It is not sweet and it doesn’t really have much of a taste. We always ate it with salt, for some reason lightly salted made it a little more interesting to the palette but not by much.
Breadfruit is a species of flowering tree in the mulberry family. Grown throughout Southeast Asia and most Pacific Ocean islands, the Leeward Islands and Windward Islands of the Caribbean.
Bread + Fruit.
Its name is derived from the texture of the cooked fruit, which has a potato-like flavor, and similar to freshly baked bread. (Huh? Trust me you have to taste it).
Food for life.
Breadfruit is one of the highest-yielding food plants, with a single tree producing up to 200 or more fruits per season. In the South Pacific, the trees yield 50 to 150 fruits per year. In southern India, normal production is 150 to 200 fruits annually. Productivity varies between wet and dry areas. In the Caribbean, a conservative estimate is 25 fruits per tree.
Breadfruit trees usually produce large crops at certain times of the year, preservation of the harvested fruit is an issue. One traditional preservation technique is to bury peeled and washed fruits in a leaf-lined pit where they ferment over several weeks and produce a sour, sticky paste. When stored, the product may last a year or more, and some pits are reported to have produced edible contents more than 20 years later. (OK I did not know this so don’t kill the messenger).
Source: Balick, M. & Cox, P. (1996). Plants, People and Culture: The Science of Ethnobotany. New York
In defense of the Soursop, it is not sour. I love soursop ice cream.
Soursop is oval in shape, covered with short soft spines dark green in color, changing to a pale green when ripe. The pulp of the fruit is white, of a ‘woolly’ texture and pleasantly acidic (not sour).
The juice is used to make a delightful ice cream or iced drink.
Native to Mexico, Cuba, Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America, primarily Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Soursop is also produced in Mozambique, Somalia and Uganda. Today, it is also grown in some areas of Southeast Asia, as well as in some Pacific islands. It was most likely brought from Mexico to the Philippines by way of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade. It is in the same genus as the cherimoya and the same family as the pawpaw.
Sweetsop or Sugar apple.
This fruit is heart shaped and the entire surface is divided into small, knobbly scales that break away separately when the fruit is ripe.
The pulp is creamy, sweet and custard-like which cradles small black seeds.
Native to the tropical Americas and widely grown in Colombia, El Salvador, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines. Its exact native range is unknown due to extensive cultivation, but thought to be in the Caribbean.
I hope you enjoyed reading about these exotic fruits as much as I’ve enjoyed remembering them and posting them.
There are many more fruits to discover until next time, keep eatin’.
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