Food-Magazine:Strange Yet Beautiful Fruits & Vegetables
How many times it has happened to you that you went to the supermarket, and saw some exotic fruits or vegetables that you had never seen or tasted before? In various parts of the world, there are many fruits, vegetables, flowers, and plants that look weird, but are in fact consumed regularly by the natives.
Some vegetable/fruit is of a weird color, while some other has a weird shape. Some of them have medicinal quality, while some others are highly-valued for other purposes. Many of these fruits, vegetables, or flowers are linked to local legends too.
Let us look at some of the strangest, yet beautiful vegetables and fruits around the world.
This fruit is traditionally grown in Bolivia, however, it is now being grown on a commercial scale in Australia. The taste of Achacha fruit is both sweet and bitter. Did you know that the honey made from achacha is 10 times the normal price of regular honey? This is because of the fact that achacha honey has high medicinal value.
Black radish is also known as black Spanish or black Spanish round. It is available year-round, and has a black or dull-brown skin. It has a sharp, pungent taste and is crisp in texture. You can add it to salads or soups.
Blood orange looks a bit gory, doesn’t it? Nonetheless, it is a real fruit and tastes sweet. Blood oranges get the red coloration due to the presence of an antioxidant called anthocyanin. They can be found in the Mediterranean and California. You can eat them raw or make salad, marmalade, or juice out of them.
Bottle gourd is also known as opo squash, long melon and calabash. This vegetable can be found across Asia, Africa, Europe, and the US. However, it is believed to have originated in southern Africa. It has a light, nutty flavor and can be added to curries. The juice of bottle gourd is helpful in treating many disorders like diarrhea, diabetes, indigestion, ulcers, flatulence, jaundice, etc.
This exotic fruit is also called bushukan or fingered citron. It has an aromatic peel that has a subtle flavor. The zest of this fruit is used like a lemon. Because of the aroma of the fruit, it is used in Japan and China for perfuming rooms and wardrobes. The origin of Buddha’s hand fruit can be traced back to Northeastern India or China.
The fruit of the prickly pear is also called tuna or cactus fig, and grows on nopal cactus. This fruit tastes somewhat like bubblegum and watermelon. You can find this fruit growing in Southwest Mexico, California, and the Mediterranean. It is mostly used to make drinks like lemonade or vodka, and sometimes for making candies and jellies.
Celeriac, also known as knob celery or turnip-rooted celery, has a celery-like and mild, nutty flavor. This root vegetable is available in many parts of the world. It can be eaten raw or cooked. You can roast, stew, mash, or blanch celeriac.
The flowers of the plant Sesbania grandiflora or agati are called dok kae. These flowers shown in the picture above, are used as a vegetable in Southeast Asia. They are used to make curries or eaten raw. These flowers are used for treating headache and improving appetite.
Dragon fruit or pitaya grows on a cactus. It is native to Mexico, South and Central America. The taste of dragon fruit is quite bland, however, it has a good amount of vitamin C, polyunsaturated fatty acids and dietary fiber. This fruit is eaten raw, however, only the flesh is suitable for consumption and not the skin.
Dulse is a red alga, that grows on the northern coasts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. It is also called dillisk, red dulse, creathnach, or sea lettuce flakes. It is added to soups and stews. It is also dried and powdered and used as a condiment. It is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is added to many skin care products as well.
Durian resembles jackfruit, but is not related to it. It is called ‘the king of fruits’ in Asia. People who taste it, either love it or despise it. The smell of durian is quite strong, and many find it repulsive. The fruit tastes sweet and creamy, and is quite soft. It can be eaten raw or one can use it for making pancakes, biscuits, or candies.
This weird-looking vegetable is the root of a plant called Tragopogon porrifolius. It is also called salsify or oyster plant, because it tends to taste like oysters. This root vegetable is edible and used for making stews and soups.
Horned melon or kiwano belongs to the cucumber and melon family. It is native to Africa, however, it is now being grown in Chile, Australia, New Zealand, and California too. It is available during the summer season, and has a sweet and tarty taste. It has over 90% water content, and is a rich source of vitamin C. It is used for making ice creams, sorbets, salads, cocktails, etc.
Jew’s ear is a type of fungus and is available year-round. It is found throughout UK, and mostly on elder trees and sometimes on beech trees. The strange name comes from a story in which Judas Iscariot hung himself from an elder tree. Fresh Jew’s ear looks more like an ear than the dried version shown above. Apart from Jew’s ear, it is also called wood ear mushroom or tree ear. Wood ears are eaten raw or added to salads, soups, stews, and pasta dishes.
Juneberries resemble blueberries. They are red in color, but once they are ripe, their color becomes bluish-black. These are sweet, juicy berries. They have a soft flesh and almond-flavored seeds. They can be found across Europe, US, and Canada. You can enjoy them raw or use them in baking recipes.
Kohlrabi or German turnip is a perennial vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked. Its taste and texture is similar to broccoli stem or cabbage heart. It has a mild, sweet taste. You can steam, stir-fry, or barbecue it or simply add it to salads, and enjoy it raw.
This tropical fruit is grown in many Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand. It is the size of a small apple, and is not related to mangos. The fruit is twisted around till it breaks. The fruit has a slightly sweet and tarty flavor.
Monstera deliciosa Fruit
The white flesh of the ripe fruit segments is edible. However, the fruits ripen very slowly and the unripe ones are poisonous. This fruit has a delicious, fruity flavor.
Noni fruit grows on the tree Morinda citrifolia, which belongs to the coffee family. It is cultivated throughout the tropics, but is native to Southeast Asia and Australasia. Half-ripe noni fruit tastes bitter, while the fully-ripe one tastes very fruity. This fruit has many curative properties and is used for treating respiratory ailments, diarrhea, fever, diseased gums, etc.
Osage orange is also known as horse apple or hedge apple. It is grown across the US and Ontario. The fruit has a globe-like shape, and has a rough-textured skin. It has a mild odor, and most parts of the fruit are inedible. The seeds are edible, though most fruits are seedless.
Everybody knows how the leaves of a white radish (daikon) look like, however, in the above picture, you can see that parsley leaves are attached to a root which looks like radish! Parsley root is also called Dutch parsley, turnip-rooted parsley, rock parsley, etc. This root vegetable can be either eaten raw or cooked. Since, parsley root has an intense flavor, ensure you don’t add too much of the root to your recipe.
Passion fruit is cultivated commercially in many parts of the world. It is mostly used for making juice, and many times it is mixed with other fruit juices to enhance the aroma. In Israel, a wine or ‘sicar’ is made out of passion fruit. Passion fruit can be used for flavoring various desserts.
Purple beans, also known as royalty purple or royal burgundy, are basically green beans hidden within a purple skin. Even though these beans look purple from outside, inside they have the usual green flesh and peas, and the taste is similar to French green beans. When these beans are cooked, the purple color fades away and turns green! Cool, isn’t it?
Purple Sweet Potato
Purple sweet potato (also known as Okinawan sweet potato or purple yam) is a variety of the regular sweet potato. This root vegetable is low in calories and high in fiber. It is also rich in antioxidants. You can fry, boil, bake, steam, or microwave this potato.
Rambutan is native to Malaysia and Indonesia. It is closely related to lychee, and has a grape-like, gummy taste. The fruit is rich in vitamin C, manganese, and copper. The fruit can be eaten raw or added to fruit salads.
Rhubarb leaf stalks have a rosy-red color, and are used to make various desserts. The stalk has a strong, tarty taste, but because of its color, this vegetable is used for preparing various sweets. Rhubarb stalks are also sometimes poetically referred to as ‘crimson stalks’.
This vegetable looks too beautiful to eat, doesn’t it? Romanesco broccoli was first documented during the 16th century, in Italy. This visually-striking broccoli is also sometimes called broccoflower. It has a pleasant nutty taste, and is rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, carotenoids, and fiber. You can eat it raw or slightly cook it.
Rose apples are native to Malaysia and East India. When the fruit is raw it has a bright, green color, but once ripe, it becomes rose-pink. They are also called wax apples sometimes. These fruits are juicy and you can eat them raw.
Sea beans (belonging to the genus Salicornia), look like a cross between French green beans and asparagus. Sea bean is a variety of dark green vegetables, which is mostly used for making salads. It is not a type of seaweed or cactus.
Everybody is familiar with the vegetable squash, but did you know that the blossoms are edible too? These blossoms can be used as a vegetable, and can be fried or baked. You can also add them to pastas or soups. Squash blossoms have a sweet, delicate flavor.
Carambola or starfruit is native to Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Philippines, and Sri Lanka. The entire fruit is edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. It is used for making fruit preserves, relishes, or juice drinks. Ripe starfruit has a sweet flavor which is not overwhelming.
Ugli fruit looks like a rotting orange, but don’t let its skin fool you, because inside it has sweet and tangy-flavored flesh! Ugli fruit is actually the trademark for the Jamaican tangelo fruit. It is a cross between a grapefruit, an orange, and a tangerine. It can be eaten raw, or you can also make juice, marmalade, or fruit salad using this fruit. Even though, the above fruits and vegetables are edible, you need to be careful when consuming them. Some parts of the fruit or vegetable are not edible and can be poisonous. For example, only the stalk of rhubarb is edible while its leaves are poisonous. Also, some fruits or vegetables need to be prepared in a certain way before you eat them, to prevent any health risks. So, make sure you are aware of the safety facts related to a certain fruit or vegetable, before you eat it.