UNKNOWN FRUITS FROM THE FURTHEST NATIONS
November 22, 2017 3:07 PM   Subscribe

 
My dad is a huge fan of persimmons. My dad loves fruit in general and it's one of his life goals to get every one in the family to try different fruits we've never heard of. Whenever my sister and I are around, we'll inevitably have to try something.
DAD: “Eat this.”
ME: “What is it?”
DAD: “Just eat it.”
ME: “I don't want to.”
DAD: “You'll like it, I promise.
ME: “No, remember that weird thing we tried that one time, I hated that.”
DAD: “Just try it.”
ME: “No.”
DAD: *forces weird fruit into my mouth*
posted by Fizz at 3:20 PM on November 22, 2017 [32 favorites]


I love them, but there is about a ten-minute window when a persimmon is ripe enough to eat. Prior to that, it turns you into Tigger post-thistle eating, and after that, it turns to liquid.
posted by queensissy at 3:22 PM on November 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


"I blet my medlars" is a perfect phrase for just about any situation, as well as being an excellent band, song, album, book, comic, and film title.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:28 PM on November 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


Also, I'm pretty sure I have a partial allergy to persimmons and kiwis. Not to the point where I get sick, but my tongue gets all weird and dry and it feels *mouthy* which is difficult to describe. I love kiwis, but I've mostly stayed away from eating them because of this.
posted by Fizz at 3:29 PM on November 22, 2017


Quince! Too sweet for me but I love the smell as they cook.
posted by not_the_water at 3:29 PM on November 22, 2017


Now I'm going to have the Shepherds’ Chorus from Amahl and the Night Visitors stuck in my head.

Olives and quinces, apples and raisins,
Nutmeg and myrtle, medlars and chestnuts,
This is all we shepherds can offer you.
Citrons and lemons, musk and pomegranates,
Goat cheese and walnut, figs
and cucumbers,
This is all we shepherds can offer you.
Hazelnuts and chamomile, mignonettes and laurel,
Honeycombs and
cinnamon, thyme, mint and garlic, this is all we shepherds can offer you.
Take them, eat them, you are welcome.
Take them, eat them, you are welcome, too.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:29 PM on November 22, 2017 [11 favorites]


We've got a baked quince dish in the oven for tomorrow right now! I don't think I've ever had it before this year.

I'm lucky that my first persimmon was really good, because my second (and last) was horrible.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 3:30 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


In Australia at holidaymastime, the fruit du jour is the (chilled) lychee. I defy anybody to stop eating these once they have started, on a hot holidaymastime day.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:34 PM on November 22, 2017 [17 favorites]


I love this post and have bookmarked some of the links to savor later.

Someone brought a handful of pawpaws to my office this fall. It tasted mostly like a creamy banana with a bit of apple flavor as well. Specialty Produce is another interesting site with a lot of previously unknown-to-me varieties. And about 10 years ago or more there was a profile in the New Yorker about a guy named I think David Karp, who calls himself The Fruit Detective and he's made it his life's work to discover fruit varieties.
posted by Kangaroo at 3:34 PM on November 22, 2017


Damson plums are small, tart and purple.We’ve got four trees in the back yard that produce a crazy amount of plums, and they are just perfect for jam. “Dad’s Dam Jam.” They’ve got a sharpness that really cuts trough the sweetness of the sugar. I was just about to clear out the last of last years windfall from the freezer, to make way for the new season plums. The fruit is still green but there's so much of it, the branches are already drooping on the ground.

If you’ve never had a green gage plum before, you’ve never had a plum before. They are the most perfect combination of sweet and tart you’ll ever have. We’ve only got one tree, and the birds will eat them all, despite plenty of alternatives, before they’ve hit the ground.

And maybe not exactly forgotten, but I would be remiss as a New Zealander if I didn’t mention the feijoa (sometimes known as the pineapple guava). It’s really a fruit you just have to try, as the taste defies description.
posted by Start with Dessert at 3:35 PM on November 22, 2017 [13 favorites]


Fancy ass restaurant fruits!
posted by Artw at 3:35 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


THere are two types of persimmons, tannic and un-tannic, it's the tannic that can only be eaten in the perfect microsecond of ripeness, these are usually the Hatichya variety. The Fuyu can be eaten at any stage of ripeness and are the perfect cross between a fruit and a vegetable.

You can easily tell them apart due to price, Fuyu are cheap and displayed dumped into a bin. The Hatchya are expensive and merchandised as individual jewels.
posted by Keith Talent at 3:36 PM on November 22, 2017 [13 favorites]


And maybe not exactly forgotten, but I would be remiss as a New Zealander if I didn’t mention the feijoa (sometimes known as the pineapple guava).

I see those from time to time and am interested, but since fruit is so experiential I have always gone past them. Like, I can tell if an apple or banana or a pomegranate or dragonfruit is ripe, and I even have a rough understanding of how to eat them more or less effectively, but weird alien-ass stuff like that I have no idea. They need to come with a little instruction sheet in the shop.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:39 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I like my plums at the bottom of a bottle of umeshu.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 3:43 PM on November 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


Pawpaws are my white whale. I've tried for 2 years to find one in season here in Indiana, and been unsuccessful each time.

Pawpaws are CRAZY. They're a tropical plant that somehow migrated to North America, all their relatives live far south. They've still got those giant tropical leaves. They don't like direct sun, but love the forest understory. They're fertilized by FLIES, not bees, so their flowers smell like rotten dead stuff.
posted by leotrotsky at 3:44 PM on November 22, 2017 [17 favorites]


I've not had great luck getting pawpaw fruit in the wild, most of the stands that occur locally are clonal and the pollinators just aren't sexing things up sufficiently to get any of the flowers fertilized. But I did manage to find and shake down a couple of fruits last year. And I've heard the flavor described as complex, with hints of vanilla custard and/or banana and/or mango, with some sources occasionally describing a semen-like afternote. For the specimens I sampled, I can report that I would have preferred much more of the vanilla custard and banana and much less of the very noticeable jizz flavor.
posted by Ornate Rocksnail at 3:47 PM on November 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


Persimmon pudding is also the real state pie* of Indiana.

*Sugar Cream Pie is a failure of imagination
posted by leotrotsky at 3:47 PM on November 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


Pawpaws are better than I thought they would be. Brother-the-younger bought some pawpaw trees and planted them in the orchard at the ancestral home (I am near, he lives an hour away). I mocked the living snot out of him for doing such a silly thing. The trees grew. Eventually (last year) they made actual fruit, one of which I ate off the tree when it got soft like a ripe peach. It was delightful. I went back two days later to get more but they were gone. This year, they made three actual fruits. I ate two and gave one to my dear friend who'd never had one. If, ever, they make more than a small handful of fruit, I will see to it that brother-the-younger gets some. Otherwise, they are mine, all mine. They are delightfully tropical, slippery, and entirely unlike the sort of thing one would expect to be growing happily in the mountains of Pennsylvania.
posted by which_chick at 3:49 PM on November 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


A feijoa is ripe as soon as it drops off the tree. Just grab em and they'll stay good for three or four days.

Also, underripe feijoas will just be tarter, have less jelly, and more of the solid stuff. As they ripen/age, the ratio of jelly goes up and it's gets sweeter. If the jelly has turned brown, it's turned so chuck it.

Seeing as the most common way of eating is cutting it in half and scooping the flesh with a spoon, you can tell if it's good or not straight away. And because feijoa bushes/trees grow so much fruit you'll never be worried about wasting any. It's very common in New Zealand for people with bushes to gift others bags and bags of feijoa because they can't keep up.

Best way to have feijoa imo is feijoa crumble. Soooooo gooood.
posted by Start with Dessert at 3:50 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I remember running on to references to a vast number of citrus fruits that just would never be in the running against lemon/orange/grapefruit for a reasons of size, flavor, seed size, cultivation issue, regional issues. But it's not like a few odds and ends but large botanical volumes of many different fruit trees and plants. It's a marvelous complex world, I certainly hope wacky small artisianal farms and research institutions are maintaining the obscure varieties, we will need them on the migration to Mars and beyond.
posted by sammyo at 3:51 PM on November 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


If you get to Chile, do not miss Lucuma ice cream or pastry. It's unique to the region (maybe Peru too) and is a musky subtle flavor that is just amazing.
posted by sammyo at 3:57 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


turbid dahlia: It occurs to me that you were talking about getting just the fruit rather than a tree. Because they've got a fairly solid outer skin, it can be hard to tell if one is overripe - they will start to blemish brown if they are. If while pressing it, there is a little bit of give, that is a sign that it is more ripe than not.

If in doubt, just ask your nearest New Zealander and I'm sure they'll gladly (and over-enthusiastically) educate you.
posted by Start with Dessert at 4:04 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


In Japan, persimmons are like zucchini in North America.

They are ubiquitous, and if you grow them, your objective is to force as many of them as possible on your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and complete strangers.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:05 PM on November 22, 2017 [16 favorites]


At my old house, there was a quince tree in the front yard. It might have been used as root stock for apple, who knows. It had been cut off at soil level, and 3 suckers grew up from the base. When my son was a few years old and I started paying attention to landscaping, it seemed like I should get rid of it, but I tried pruning it quite severely 1st. It was gorgeous. It went all Japanese graceful and elegant and had lovely blossoms in spring. Quince have tons of pectin, and I made strawberry jam bricks with it. once. Now I live in a different house and in the spring I want to plant some apple trees of less typical variety.
posted by theora55 at 4:06 PM on November 22, 2017


Persimmons have to be mushy ripe to eat, or else they have a substance that does give the mouth a dry and chalky feel. Quinces are my favorite fruit to bake with or to make fruit butter, or marmalade.
posted by Oyéah at 4:08 PM on November 22, 2017


Okay, starting to turn this into the feijoa thread, but here's a decent article about the cult of the feijoa in New Zealand.
posted by Start with Dessert at 4:09 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


where is the cherimoya love
posted by poffin boffin at 4:11 PM on November 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


Ooh! Ooh! Crazy fruit is my favorite topic!

I've planted three generally unknown fruits indigenous to America: the serviceberry (of which the Canadian saskatoon is a kind), the American highbush cranberry, and the American black elderberry. (I also already had wild pin cherries and nannyberries growing on the property when I bought it.) They're all native to the northeast USA/southeast Canada, which is where I live.

Birds are obsessed with serviceberries (seriously, they strip the trees bare before the fruit's even ripe), so I've only gotten a single berry after a couple years of harvest. The kind I have (called "apple serviceberries") tastes like a cross between an apple and a blueberry, which is pretty great. I'm gonna try netting the trees next year so I can actually eat a few.

I got my first harvest of cranberries this year and I'm surprised anyone ever thought to try them: they smell like dirty socks. (I'm not kidding. Exactly like dirty socks. It's uncanny.) But what's crazy is that the horrible smell/flavor cooks out, leaving behind a really pleasant cranberry tartness! I made jelly last weekend, and while my house smelled horrible for three days, the jelly came out great: halfway between cranberry sauce and orange marmalade in flavor. (I have six gallons of wine going, too, from a variety of recipes. I guess we'll see if it's any good in a year or two.)

My elderberries are really young, so I haven't gotten to experiment with them much yet, alas. I want to try making elderflower champagne [YouTube link] as soon as I can, though.

I made my first batch of pin cherry wine last year. It came out a bit too astringent, so it needs balancing (probably with European tart cherries), but it has such an intense cherry flavor that it's pretty pleasant nonetheless. They actually have a kinda interesting life cycle: they're adapted to places prone to wildfires, and their plan for it is to load up the ground with as many seeds as possible. The seeds last a long time in the ground and are sensitive to temperature differentials, so they can detect (vaguely) when the ground above them is clear of forest cover, and they germinate then.

The nannyberries look and taste like raisins and make good pudding. I guess they're kinda unremarkable otherwise.

For more information on fruits (weird or not), I've enjoyed Thoreau's Wild Fruits (yes, that Thoreau) and U. P. Hendrick's Cyclopedia of Hardy Fruits recently.
posted by ragtag at 4:12 PM on November 22, 2017 [31 favorites]


Quince! Too sweet for me but I love the smell as they cook.

That's a wild thing to say. Too sweet for you? In my experience, which is largely limited to my parents making quincesauce (think applesauce, only quince) is inedibly tart without adding a whole heap of sugar. You can add quite a bit before it even approaches pleasantly tart. And I'm a big fan of tart flavors. You must have encountered a very different variety than me, or the people who have cooked it for you really went to town on the sugar.
posted by Caduceus at 4:17 PM on November 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Remember when we were all arguing over this NYTs thanksgiving food-by-state article? That year I made persimmon pudding. it was OK.

I live in Maryland, and I have a medlar in my yard, so I know all these fruits. Medlar is a lovely tree with beautiful flowers, and the word "blet" is a necessary word, but medlar fruits themselves are not necessary.
posted by acrasis at 4:18 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm in Eastern Ontario, and I passionately want to plant a damson plum tree despite not being able to find one at any nursery during growing season. (Shocking, I know.)
posted by Kitteh at 4:20 PM on November 22, 2017


Start with Dessert - feijoas in Australia are at least $1.80 per feijoa in Woolworths when they're in season so I can understand turbid dahlia's hesitation. I bought them by the box from a grower in QLD last year but wasn't impressed overall by the quality. This is a shame coz it's my favorite fruit and I hadn't had one in about 6 years up to then.
posted by poxandplague at 4:22 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Oh man, yeah, persimmons are great. The trick is the flat kind (rather than the tall kind) generally aren’t tannic at all, and can be eaten whenever. When they’re firm, they taste kind of like how I wish cantaloupe/musk melon were, just in general.

And yeah, the comment above about them being like Japan's zucchini could scarcely be more accurate. They are EVERYWHERE because they grow readily and the trees are attractive. The neat thing is that they bear fruit after the leaves fall off, so you get these sort of picturesque trees that are laden with fruit but otherwise bare.

If you want to try one, just find your local Asian grocer in fall or early winter. They are very much a sign of fall, like every other orange form of produce that is not citrus.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:31 PM on November 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


The local community centre has a line of Saskatoonberry bushes and the only other person I've ever seen eating them was the first person I saw eating them. They are tasty, but they only appeal to me when I'm eating them from the bush, which is my experience with mulberries as well.

The one "unknown" fruit I had wanted to eat for the longest time was hardy kiwi. I finally found some at a grocery store this year and they were really good.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:35 PM on November 22, 2017


Persimmon pudding is ideally made with American persimmons - other varieties have the wrong texture. It is so good, a truly amazing regional dish and almost certainly the best thing to come out of Indiana.

My otherwise famously upright grandmother once tried to steal persimmons from a seemingly unattended tree and was run off by the owner. Indiana persimmons are serious business.
posted by Frowner at 4:39 PM on November 22, 2017 [11 favorites]


My favorite weird fruit: My grandfather had a loquat tree; I remember loving them, and it took me many years to notice that I never saw them in supermarkets. (Why would I need to shop for them? They were right there on the tree.)

I no longer have access to those (no idea what happened to the house after he died), and still don't know why they're not around. Don't ship well, maybe? Or don't store well? Too prone to weird exotic bugs?
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:40 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I love persimmon pudding! Every major event with my family back in Indiana has persimmon pudding. I'm not entirely sure why but my family tends to eat it room temperature sliced into bars which is not something I have seen other people do.
posted by nolnacs at 4:51 PM on November 22, 2017


Have golden kiwifruit made it to the US yet? I find them strictly superior to the green kind.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:55 PM on November 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


My grandfather had a loquat tree; I remember loving them, and it took me many years to notice that I never saw them in supermarkets.

Wiki tells me that the loquat is sometimes known as a Japanese Medlar and it is also known as Japanese plum and Chinese plum, also known as pipa in China. Cool.
posted by Fizz at 4:56 PM on November 22, 2017


poxandplague: yep, not much better here in New Zealand. Until this year they were charging $7-8 a kg in the supermarkets. On the flip side of that, everyone knows someone with a bush in NZ so most people don't buy them in the supermarket.

It's kind of why I went straight to the "buy a bush" option above. Until supply and demand dynamics kick in, buying the fruit will be much more expensive than just growing your own.
posted by Start with Dessert at 4:57 PM on November 22, 2017


Pawpaw and persimmon plants are available from Oikos. I'm trying to be patient while I wait for them to get big enough to set fruit...
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:58 PM on November 22, 2017


Persimmons were recently featured on the PBS show "A Chef's Life," a series about chef Vivian Howard from North Carolina. Which is a show I find I enjoy far more than I would have ever expected, given my northern urban culture prejudices.
posted by dnash at 4:58 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Sapotes are amazing, try them if you find them!
posted by haemanu at 5:03 PM on November 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


When I eat a ripe persimmon, I just imagine I'm an insect who has just digested its prey externally; I puncture the skin & suck out the delicious goodness. Come to think of it, this is probably why so many people don't like persimmons.
posted by mr vino at 5:14 PM on November 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


I was all pumped to try medlars when I found them at the farmers market but they just weren't as special as I was hoping. I grew up eating hachiya persimmons in wild abundance so the "it has to look nasty and rotten before it's ready to eat" thing wasn't novel. We usually ate hachiyas mixed with yogurt, with cinnamon on top. Fuyus got sent in school lunches.

If you come across quinces, you can make pie or sauce with them same as apples, or candy them.
posted by potrzebie at 5:19 PM on November 22, 2017


where is the cherimoya love

it me
posted by aws17576 at 5:38 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Most of these fall into the category of "looks interesting and worth a try, but I have no idea what parts are edible, what's inedible, and when it's edible, so... pass".
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:40 PM on November 22, 2017


Hatichya Persimmons are not edible until bitten by frost. You know it's ready when it shows little black spots on its skin. If picked prior to this event, place in freezer for 5 days then suck it out of its skin. (privately, it is not a pretty sight or sound)

Re Pineapple Guavas, a little known feature is that deer will not browse on the trees for you folks in deer country. Mine are currently falling off the tree and people in my neighborhood love to see us coming.
posted by shnarg at 5:42 PM on November 22, 2017


If anyone is interested in trying to grow pawpaws from seed i have some that I’ve sadly realized i just don’t have the space for (they’re a taproot and apparently don’t like being in containers, which is the only viable option for me at the moment). Memail me if you’d like them!
posted by brilliantine at 5:48 PM on November 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Two other fruit that should be better known: achacha and finger limes.

Achacha have a texture a bit like apricot but a very different flavour which is hard to describe except as tropical.

Finger limes are full of little caviar-like bubbles which pop and release an amazing lemon-lime flavoured jelly. So good.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 6:05 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]




The first persimmon I ever ate was a fully ripe wild American persimmon. The second was an unripe wild American persimmon. The third was a ripe cultivated variety. There's no comparison between the first and the others. Wild American persimmons, when you're lucky enough to find them ripe, are one of the best fruit bar none.
posted by mollweide at 6:30 PM on November 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I spent like 20 minutes trying to tell someone what a persimmon tasted like the other day, settling on a kind of sweet custardy blandness.
posted by PinkMoose at 6:36 PM on November 22, 2017


i am deep in a fruit wiki hole and i have just learned that louisiana mirlitons are actually just chayote
posted by poffin boffin at 6:48 PM on November 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


I love kiwis, but I've mostly stayed away from eating them because of this.

I'm willing to bet you've never been within 1000km of a kiwi.

Most of these fall into the category of "looks interesting and worth a try, but I have no idea what parts are edible, what's inedible, and when it's edible, so... pass".

If you have access to quince, just peel & slice up the quince and cook with ~ 6-10 apples. Quince is inedible raw, and is quite hard when ripe, but gives cooked apple a wonderful aromatic flavour.

Quince! Too sweet for me

Quince are not sweet.

I would be remiss as a New Zealander if I didn’t mention the feijoa ... It’s really a fruit you just have to try, as the taste defies description.

As a New Zealander I'd describe it as "inedible".
posted by HiroProtagonist at 6:55 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I HAVE PAWPAWS IN MY WOODS. THEY ARE MY PAWPAWS. (I also have chinquapin chestnuts, which are nifty little small nut trees. They are spikey as hell so you pretty much just wait for them to fall to the ground so the husk shatters and then you have to hunt around in the grass for the nuts, and they are also quite small, but on the upside the shell is soft enough that you can bite into it with your teeth to extract the nutmeat and they are sweet and one of the most delicious nuts I've ever tasted!)
posted by drlith at 7:12 PM on November 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Those flat persimmons are so beautiful to look at in a fruit bowl or basket. They are elegant to make watercolors about, or oil paintings. So perfect with those four sage green pointed leaves at the top of each fruit, trailing out over the orange. Shiny, shiny with a little shadow. I moved away from my elderberries and my tiny plums, I am so sorry for that. I once ate some moose, I was given a bite by a dietitian whose father had taken a bush plane in to hunt. You could taste that moose was made almost entirely of service berries. There are elderberries here, and I have to see if they fail to get harvested by others.
posted by Oyéah at 7:18 PM on November 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


Oh, I've got Saskatoonberries also (the people who owned this property 10 years ago basically bought 4 of everything that would survive in zone 6 from Edible Landscaping). I think they're the next fruit to come into season after the strawberries but before the massive glut of raspberries and so on so they're not necessarily my top pick for shrub fruit but they're better than nothing in June. I've also got jostaberries, which are pretty meh, and a hardy citrus that is completely pointless and yet covered with thorns which makes it rather pointy. And Chickasaw plums, which take everything stupid and bad about plums and make it worse. Some obscure fruit deserves to remain that way.
posted by drlith at 7:23 PM on November 22, 2017


Quinces are what I grow in my front yard. Pretty flowers, tasty food, perfect plant.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 7:23 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


The best way to consume feijoa is as wine - they make great wine, second best is an afternoon under the shade of a feijoa tree with a bucket of fruit and a teaspoon.

Great plant, makes a really good hedge, hardy to -8°C or lower, showy flowers and quite salt tolerant. But yes you shouldn't eat them till they drop. They're hard and pithy before that.
posted by unearthed at 7:48 PM on November 22, 2017


I think all the paw paws in Australia get made into paw paw ointment, which basically cures everything.
posted by pompomtom at 7:49 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'll never forget tasting my first kumquat on a tour of Melissa's Organic Produce in Los Angeles. It was all the food cliches - explosion in your mouth, tasting in color, the whole nine yards. The not-so-fresh ones we get back East can't compare.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:51 PM on November 22, 2017


Another in season fruit: how about some jujubes?
posted by haemanu at 7:56 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Any love for physalis? The name I know them by is ground cherry which is a bit weird since they are related to tomatillos.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:57 PM on November 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


i am deep in a fruit wiki hole and i have just learned that louisiana mirlitons are actually just chayote

Pfshh. Who didn't know that?
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:59 PM on November 22, 2017


Omigod, this thread is fruit porn.

So, uh, does anyone has experience with passionflower fruit (called maypops, I think)? If somebody has a neighbor with lush passionflower vines bearing fruit, many of which have been falling to the sidewalk and rotting, should somebody go for a late-night walk to say hello to the friendly neighbor cats and maybe liberate a fruit or two? Asking for a friend.
posted by Lexica at 8:03 PM on November 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


Hey Kitteh you may not be able to find a damson but how about a paw paw? They grow here in Ontario apparently. One I'm keen to try is the haskap which I happened upon when we stopped randomly at a farmer's stand this summer.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:07 PM on November 22, 2017


I adore persimmons, which are quite easy to find in NYC. Somehow they are usually sold firm, but once in a while, some grocer is trying to unload a bunch of squishy ones at 99 cents/lb, which is when I pounce.

But right now all I can think about is:
CHERImoya WAS a BULLfrog
posted by the_blizz at 8:23 PM on November 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Aw, shucks. All this talk about fruit makes me think about my Grandpa Mutt. When I was a kid, he used to bring us boxes of greengages and pomegranates from his farm. He also brought crisp fuyu persimmons, and had the knack of making the best dried hachiya persimmons, a complicated endeavor that required hanging them from string and carefully tending to them in a sunny window over many days. Sometimes he would show up with a huge stash of asian pears, loquats, kumquats, jabongs (pomelo), and any other esoteric fruit that happened to come his way. As a kid, I took all this for granted, but it was really quite the fruit bounty. I really miss it now, particularly since moving away from sunny California, but not as much as I miss him. You were the best, grandpa.
posted by Diagonalize at 8:36 PM on November 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


All familiar to me except medlars. Halved paw paw and a squeeze of half a lime - heaven. Quince are useless, a chokoe has the same amount of flavour and is free if you have an outside dunny.
posted by unliteral at 8:39 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


My grandfather had a loquat tree; I remember loving them, and it took me many years to notice that I never saw them in supermarkets.

My grandpa also had a loquat tree! When my grandparents moved, my aunt took a cutting of the tree (I think? or maybe just a seed), and replanted at their new house. Anyway, I think loquats don't make it to supermarkets because they bruise so easily. When we picked them, it seemed like they got bruised just knocking against each other in the basket.
posted by yasaman at 9:03 PM on November 22, 2017


I blew my mother-in-law's mind with jujubes just recently! I love them and we were at the farmers market so I got some and she couldn't believe what they tasted like. It was pretty awesome
posted by Carillon at 9:19 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Quince are useless

ಠ_ಠ
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:34 PM on November 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


Any fans of Natal plum here? It's a common hedge in San Diego with edible red-magenta fruits. I assumed they weren't edible until someone asked me if I had tried "natal plum" -- pronouncing it not like the South African province but as though it were some kind of fetus, which put me off a bit though my curiosity eventually won out. The fruit is sweet, tart, and slightly astringent, not unlike a cranberry. It's really quite delicious, but it has one unfortunate feature: a high latex content, which leads to sticky lips and sticky fingers.
posted by aws17576 at 10:08 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


For me, my white whale of fruit is passionfruit. I hate passionfruit flavored things, but when I was in Costa Rica I encountered the fresh plant itself and fell absolutely in love with the orange ones. The skins are almost papery and lovely to break into, and then you can slurp up the seeds and the fruity covering straight out of the whole. It's sort of like I imagine eating a tadpole might be, except tastier--the seeds are covered in this sort of sweet gelatinous pulp, so you slurp up that and then there's an interesting crunch in the middle from the seed. Neatest fruit ever to eat--no mess!--and the taste is delicious. I haven't been able to find the orange ones here in the US, though; for some reason, all I can find are the purple ones, and I'm always afraid they just wouldn't be the same.
posted by sciatrix at 10:24 PM on November 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


Wait. Natal plums are edible? I grew up in SoCal. The bushes are everywhere. But so also are oleander and I got into the habit of just not eating things I found outside after being terrified by stories of oleander poisonings from my parents.

Someone already mentioned sapotes. They are impossibly good, better than cherimoyas and I will once a year close my eyes, grit my teeth, and plunk down $6 for a cherimoya because I love them so.

I first learned about persimmons from reading Crescent Dragonwagon's book "Passionate Vegetarian" and have always dreamed of living someplace where the Hachiya variety grow abundantly enough that it won't cost me an arm and a leg to make some of her recipes that require the soft, gooey astringent varieties.

That said, I buy Fuyus every year around this time. My son and I enjoyed one before dinner, and one of my coworkers has a Fuyu tree. He treats me to half his crop every year. I eat them all. I'm throwing them in a salad for Thanksgiving tomorrow, in fact. Mmhm. Take that, pumpkins.

I am still waiting for my pawpaw prince to come. Some day. Some day.
posted by offalark at 10:42 PM on November 22, 2017


Sapotes better than cherimoyas?! Is this a matter of taste or have I just not eaten the right sapotes? I always found them bland, with an irritant skin. Cherimoyas, however, are delicious.

Natal plum is actually related to oleander, but don't be scared... the fruit is edible. (I've heard differing statements about the toxicity of the rest of the plant, not that one would be tempted to eat the thorny leaves in the first place.)

Sciatrix, I've seen orange passion fruits in California but they are sadly not the ones in your picture. These ones have red seeds and I am sorry to report that they are utterly insipid.
posted by aws17576 at 10:51 PM on November 22, 2017


I'm a big fan of physalis -- I only knew them by kind of a folksy / non-scientific Chinese term, but I ate a lot of them as a kid and basically gave up hope of ever finding them again, until a few popped up at work one day and I was really happy.

No takers yet for the wax apple? They look like a bell, are sweet and mild, and are plentiful in Taiwan.
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:55 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


As a New Zealander I'd describe it as "inedible".

Sacrilege!
posted by Start with Dessert at 11:44 PM on November 22, 2017


Sapote: the ones I have tried were green and matched the wikipedia description "banana-like to peach to pear to vanilla flan"!
posted by haemanu at 11:50 PM on November 22, 2017


Any love for physalis? The name I know them by is ground cherry which is a bit weird since they are related to tomatillos.

We grow them inside in the summer here in Alaska, believe it or not (we first tried them at a farmer’s market in Kauai). My husband likes them, I am less enthused. But I also hate his beloved persimmons despite my wild enthusiasm for about 95% of fruits.

We agree on jabuticaba though. Not sure if I really like the taste or am just really supportive of anything that grows in such a weird way.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:14 AM on November 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


Damson plums are small, tart and purple.We’ve got four trees in the back yard that produce a crazy amount of plums, and they are just perfect for jam

Damsons are just the best, absolutely packed with flavour. They’re a wild hedgerow fruit in the UK. They make a great sauce for things like ham, as well. Unfortunately I can’t eat most of the fruit in the apple/pear/plum family raw any more (or at least I can but it makes my mouth itch), but damsons need to be cooked anyway.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 3:02 AM on November 23, 2017


I thought everybody knew that pawpaws are a bear necessity.

Now when you pick a pawpaw
Or a prickly pear
And you prick a raw paw
Next time beware
Don't pick the prickly pear by the paw
When you pick a pear
Try to use the claw
But you don't need to use the claw
When you pick a pear of the big pawpaw
posted by clawsoon at 3:45 AM on November 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


I love weird fruit, but I don't think of persimmons as weird. I guess I've always lived places where a few persimmon trees grow in the neighbourhood and they are affordable in the shops too. I like them sprinkled with cinnamon.

I just got back from Malaysia and ate some exotic-to-me fruit there. I spent the first couple of days convincing my hosts that no, really, I wanted to eat delicious Malaysian food, not boring western things that they thought of as fancier. So then they started taking me to food stands with progressively more challenging foods (started off with laksa and nasi lemak and roti chanai, but moved on to things with more chili, more bones, and less familiar names). Finally I think I must have convinced them I was adventurous because they took me to a durian stall. It was great! I don't understand why people hate them (although your fingers end up stinky afterwards).

The stall owner called all his friends over to watch the weird white lady enjoying durian though, and they took lots of photos on their phones.

The next day we bought some guava slices from a street stand, that came with a little packet of tamarind powder to dip them in. They were also awesome.
posted by lollusc at 4:46 AM on November 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


Even here in pawpaw ground zero (Ohio) it’s hard to find them but you can get frozen pulp from the lovely people who organize the Pawpaw Festival!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:34 AM on November 23, 2017


I'm a bit confused- is North American Paw Paw different than papaya? Papaya is called PawPaw in parts of anglophone west Africa (at least Ghana). And I can't imagine this wonderful fruit- Justine that kind of tastes like feet and is barely tolerable if you squeeze some lime on it.
posted by raccoon409 at 5:47 AM on November 23, 2017


Yes the North American paw paw is different than a papaya. It is asimina triloba. There are a couple of parks I know of in Delaware and Pennsylvania where it grows wild and I've eaten it there, but it's hard to find it just when it is ripe. It tastes kinds of like a smushy banana/mango.
posted by interplanetjanet at 5:58 AM on November 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


passionflower fruit (called maypops, I think)?

That is passiflora incarnata so you should check first if the flowers are looking like the ones in the wikipedia article. The other ornamental kind is Passiflora cerula, which is edible but not actually very tasty. I'm trying to grow incarnata in Yorkshire, with some success so far (3 years in a pot outside, but no flowers or fruit yet). Another edible one is Passiflora Mollissima, but when I looked into it only cerula and incarnata are hardy in England. I might have been able to grow mollissima on the southern coast, but not as northern as Yorkshire.
posted by koolkat at 6:14 AM on November 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


I live in Berkeley, and a few of my friends have feijoas/pineapple guavas. They’re delicious eaten like an apple, all but the crinkly bit at the end; the skin has a slightly rotten flavor that I’ve somehow grown to love -- but these days I mark the seasons with persimmons. My partner is Japanese-American, and his dad sends us home with literal crates of fuyu persimmons all winter long (with the injunction that we should sell them for 50¢ apiece to get the jump on Berkeley Bowl where they’re twice that). We make persimmon-pomegranate-chili salad with cumin, and persimmons-with-goat-cheese-and-lettuce, and thinly sliced persimmon pies, and eat them like apples from November through oh, I forget, February? Where I grew up in rural Texas, astringent American persimmons grew wild on spindly little trees, and the persimmons themselves were all seed and sweetness, about the size of a cherry tomato, spread as far as I can tell by coyotes who ate the fallen ones and shit them out along a creek bank or in the middle of a wildly overgrown field, where they sprouted and grew into fruits the birds got more often than my mother, who loves them. But mostly the fields, untended, grew tangled with little wild plums that would overtake a fenceline in a few years. When I was a kid, my siblings and I would drive up to the road where it crested the hill west of the house in our rattletrap ’67 Chevy (which would’ve been called vintage by then if it hadn’t been such a jalopy) and pick huge plastic grocery bags full of plums, which I’d devour in a day or two, the greener the better. When I moved to Japan in my mid-twenties, I discovered umeshu, delicious syrupy liquor made by steeping Prunus mume (Chinese plum or Japanese apricot — it’s called a plum in English, but it’s more closely related to the apricot, says Wikipedia) in shochu and sugar. They're what umeboshi are made of, and they're thought to be poisonous eaten raw (that whole genus produces hydrogen cyanide in the leaves and unripe fruit, which is what umeshu specifically uses) Cut with a lot of water, Choya Umeshu is still one of my favorite drinks. I never saw a loquat when I lived in Japan, where they’re called biwo, but discovered them later when I lived in Austin and had gotten in the inadvisable habit of eating strange fruits from strangers’ yards; they turned out to be delicious, and it took me a couple months to put a name to them. Later I learned they’re sometimes used to clean wooden osento/hot tubs in Japan. These days my street scavenging is limited to passionfruit (Lexica, they’re remarkably delicious if you like incredibly tart fruits with the interior color of fire) and loquats, and fruit from the strawberry tree, which is planted by landscape architects all over the Bay Area as a street tree because they're green and bear fruit eleven months out of the year. I’ve never tried a medlar, but I’ve seen them growing in the alleys of Chang Mai, and when I’m in Hong Kong I eat a lot of medlar jello (with goji berries and osmanthus) from Tim Ho Wan, the Eat n’ Park of Asia.

I dream of fingerlimes, and of all those weird flavors of banana that Dole doesn’t sell, and to again live in Tucson where I could scavenge kumquats right off a tree behind the U of A chemistry building.
posted by tapir-whorf at 6:22 AM on November 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: Bletting medlars since 2001
posted by blue_beetle at 7:04 AM on November 23, 2017


One of the best ways to avoid the "is it ripe or not?" situation with persimmons, if you're lucky enough to have an Asian grocery store or supermarket nearby, is to get the dried ones. They'll keep for a good while.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:05 AM on November 23, 2017


My friend and brother and I found a park in southwestern Michigan where we could pretty reliably find ripe pawpaws. We used to go there once in a while and either find a good ground fruit or pick one, cut it up and share. Yummy.

I have a habit of introducing my son to “weird fruit”. Occasionally we pick something exotic or unusual at the store, and each try one as a snack on the way home. When we did this with a persimmon, I enjoyed it but he couldn’t eat all of his, so he stuck it in the cup holder of his car seat. Which he then closed, unbeknownst to me. Took me close to 2 weeks to figure out why my car smelled weird... fermented persimmon isn’t a bad smell, per se, but it is not quite what you want in your vehicle. Good thing it wasn’t mid-summer I guess...
posted by caution live frogs at 7:16 AM on November 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


Here in SE Portland, we have about a bajillion Persimmon trees of both common edible varieties hanging out. I don't see many of my favoirte trees entered on Falling Fruit (which will be corrected probably later today with a nice long post-turkey-stroll), but that's probably because they're not super popular for foraging, and honestly the folks that have them use them. Those trees get heavy with fruit. They're easy to spot this time of year, as they're pretty ripe. I haven't yet this year, but I'll usually knock on a door or two in the fall and ask to pay them $5 for a sack or so, they usually wave off the 5 bucks and just say 'take whatever you want, that's just less I have to clean up.'

If you're having trouble picking out a ripe Hachiya persimmon, just pick one up. If the sheer act of picking it up feels precarious, you're probably in the right zone. They should almost feel like a waterballon ready to break.

If you have access to a food dehydrator, or are willing to take a shallow dive into modernist techniques, Hachiya persimmon leather (ie, Persimmon fruit roll ups) are the best goddamn thing on the planet.

And I'll 2nd tobascodagama; if you are getting your persimmons at a regular grocery store or at a whole foods analog, you're getting taken for a ride. They're dirt cheap at asian markets, and they're usually closer to ripe than not (in the case of Hachiyas at least).
posted by furnace.heart at 7:34 AM on November 23, 2017


When you pick a pear
Try to use the claw
But you don't need to use the claw
When you pick a pear of the big pawpaw
posted by clawsoon at 3:45 AM


Epawnysterical!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:57 AM on November 23, 2017


A note about American/astringent persimmons: the skin will turn black in parts, and mottled brown, and dusky orange when they're ripe. Blackened skin is actually a good sign, and doesn't look a thing like mold/rot.

Now the hoshigaki I tried to make a few winters ago (definitely not a self-link), mine all went splat or grew full heads of mold-hair like the best of back-of-the-fridge science experiments. Anyone who lives in East Bay should definitely buy some hoshigaki from Berkeley Bowl, where they're less than a dollar apiece. I've never seen them that cheap (much less something you can even purchase) anywhere else.
posted by tapir-whorf at 8:25 AM on November 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


You know what is a delicious fruit that I have not had in twenty years? Yang mei, or Chinese bayberries. We used to get them in Shanghai all the time, and they were my favorite of all the excellent fruits in that happy city.

Shanghai! That was a city for fruit - everything was good. I ate so much fruit there - miniature melons, pomelos (I quickly learned to pay extra for the vendor to peel them), lychee fruit (in lychee season, heaps of rustling husks all over the streets), oranges (as the season progressed they changed from tiny green pricy tart ones to big sweet orange ones overflowing baskets in every fruit stall), big Chinese pears much better than the ones that get exported and of course bags and bags and bags of bayberries.

American fruit is nothing in comparison. American food is generally nothing in comparison, actually, except maybe some of the very fresh styles of food you get out in California.
posted by Frowner at 8:27 AM on November 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yes! Hoshigaki is delicious, but so much harder to get right than you would think! Grandpa’s always turned out great, but it required so much special attention and work that I’ve never even bothered trying it myself. My mom keeps trying every couple of years, but it always ends in moldy failure. If you can just buy it for cheap, consider yourself very lucky.
posted by Diagonalize at 8:56 AM on November 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Japanese persimmons are fantastic. American persimmons demand that we ask, "of all the things you could have planted, why on earth would you chose that one?" Fruit that can only be eaten when cooke, soggy, and flavorless is indistinguishable from canned peaches except for the amount of extra effort required to prep them.

But, trying a pawpaw is high on my list of short term goals. And, I'd never heard of a medlar. Neat!
posted by eotvos at 10:34 AM on November 23, 2017


Nthing physalis, which some enterprising farmers at the farmers' market sometimes sell. I've seen them at some fancy restaurants used as a dessert garnish. Don't eat the unripe ones, which are toxic.

the duck by the oboe, thanks to your comment, I am now seriously contemplating whether to buy one or two finger lime trees to try growing them in my backyard. I'm kinda feeling like this non-showy, thorny, phallic-fruit-on-outside/tart-sweet-bursty-goodness-inside tree might be my spirit plant.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:50 AM on November 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


* ctr-f *
rambut
0 results

y'all don't know what you're missing

/occasional mefi reminder to try rambutans
posted by numaner at 11:45 AM on November 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Seconding your endorsement. Rambutans are a delight, second only to longans in my fruit rankings (rambutans are so much prettier on the outside and get additional points for size, but the longans slide off the pit in a much cleaner, more satisfying way).
posted by charmedimsure at 12:47 PM on November 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Quince paste goes amazing with Blue Cheese. Anything that can make a moldy cheese taste great is worthwhile in my books.
posted by Marticus at 2:19 PM on November 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


I once picked up some "sweet lemons" from a local Persian produce place - it tastes sweet to everyone else who tried, but I must have some kind of genetic variation where it just tasted like soap to me.

Loquat/pipa/pei-pa; pei pa is Chinese for lyre and the fruit is named after them because their sagital section (cut in half) looks like old school/antique Chinese lyres/hand harps.

Loquat is the main ingredient in Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa, a traditional remedy for sore throats/productive coughs. It taste so good that I know many people (myself included) who'll drink it, either straight up or diluted in water, just for the taste.
posted by porpoise at 3:06 PM on November 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


This American lived for 30 years and never encountered a persimmon, but then I moved to Japan where persimmons (kaki) are very common. They look like an orange tomato, and taste something like an apple, though not as sour. Very subtly sweet. Good stuff.
posted by zardoz at 3:40 PM on November 23, 2017


When I was a kid, persimmon trees were quite common in northwest Arkansas. I didn't particularly care for them, but my dad loved them. In the neighborhood where my great grandmother lived there were also a bunch of trees that produced (inedible, afaik) fruit that looked just like a green human-sized brain. Every autumn there were persimmons and brains lying everywhere. Would have been perfect a bit later in the year for Halloween.
posted by wierdo at 4:01 PM on November 23, 2017


wierdo, Osage oranges, perhaps?
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:19 PM on November 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


I believe that is it, thanks! Never knew what it was. Dad always insisted they were actual brains just to be a dick.
posted by wierdo at 5:06 PM on November 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


I grew up with persimmons, most farming families in my small town in northern Italy had a kaki growing in their yard. Picking them was a yearly ritual, we’d get crates and crates and crates of the stuff. We’d store it somewhere cool and grab a few at a time to ripen fully on the windowsill, then you cut the top off and eat them out of their own skin with a spoon. So damn delicious.

I asked my husband to try one the first time he visited and he gagged. Must be an acquired taste.

I got a huge 12 feet tall American persimmon for free at the nursery last year, he only had two branches and maybe a dozen leaves, we called him the Charlie Brown persimmon. I planted him at the edge of our forest here in MA thinking it would croak but it survived last year’s drought and is now thriving. Hooray for rescue plants!

Now to find some pawpaws.
posted by lydhre at 6:54 PM on November 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


My Saijo persimmon tree is three years old and I'm still waiting for it to bear. I grew up with a Hachiya persimmon outside my bedroom window, I think they are beautiful trees and there's nothing like seeing the orange fruits still hanging on the branches after the leaves have dropped. Fejoias are also easily grown in the Bay Area, we used to pick bucket loads of them from neighbors who didn't eat them.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:00 PM on November 23, 2017


I finally made cranberry sauce with real cranberries this year, soo I got that goin' for me, which is nice.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:29 PM on November 23, 2017


Osage oranges (also called bodark apples, or bois d'arc apples if you want to be fancy about it) aren't edible unless you're a possum (or opossum, if...), but the wood is hard and dense and impervious to rot; a lot of the outbuildings on the farm I grew up on were made of it, and are still standing without any intervention besides buttressing of sagging joints a hundred years after they were built.
posted by tapir-whorf at 1:53 AM on November 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


My grandfather made persimmon beer. It made the house smell wonderful.
posted by bjgeiger at 6:14 AM on November 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


That was his persimmon beer farts.
posted by pracowity at 2:40 PM on November 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


Never knowingly clapped eyes on a quince. Simply makes me think of Edward Lear. Didn't even know that a mangosteen was a real fruit and not an unimaginative "Klingon Space Plantain" name made up by Paolo Bacigalupi for The Windup Girl. I should fruit more.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 5:48 PM on November 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


I mostly know quinces from quince paste, that stuff that you avoid on a nice cheese board.
posted by pompomtom at 2:01 AM on November 25, 2017


« Older How we fill gaps in our everyday experiences   |   These are the times we live in! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments