It’s not all apples and oranges! Study up the facts on these unusual fruits you might not have heard of.
• The largest tree-borne fruit in the world, the jackfruit, can reach 80 lbs (36.3 kg) in weight. In raw form, its yellow flesh is sweet like an apple or banana, but when cooked, it takes on the flavor of the ingredients it’s prepared with, and is a popular meat substitute for vegan diets. Its cooked texture resembles that of tender pork, making it a frequent choice for barbecue sandwiches.
• The official name of the dragon fruit is white pitaya, a colorful fruit native to Mexico. Its cactus-like exterior is a bright magenta with green scales, while the interior fleshy pulp is white, dotted with tiny black seeds. Its slightly sweet flavor lends itself to being eaten fresh, or atop desserts, fish, or salads.
• Watermelon gherkins might look like tiny watermelons and grow on a vine like watermelons, but that’s where the similarity ends. Just 0.8 to 1.2 inches (2 – 3 cm) long, their pulp is green rather than red, and they taste like lime-infused cucumbers. They may be small, but they’re rich in Vitamins A and K.
• According to the children’s song, the monkey chased the weasel around the mulberry bush. That small, bushy tree is native to China and was originally cultivated to feed silkworms. Mulberries are now grown around the world in many locations. The fruit, which resembles a blackberry, grows in large quantities on a single bush and has a high sugar content, making it a common ingredient in jam, jelly, pie filling, and wine. The Chinese have used mulberries for medicinal purposes for centuries, and modern studies have shown the fruit to be effective in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and for treating arthritis, headaches, sore throats, and coughs.
• The durian might be classified as a fruit, but its flavor has been described as that of fried onions or a garlic pudding. This unique tropical fruit is popular in Southeast Asia, where it’s gained the nickname “the king of fruits.” It’s a large fruit, up to a foot (30 cm) long and 6 inches (15 cm) wide, with a hard spiky outer shell. One fruit yields two cups of edible pulp. The durian is one of the most nutritious of all fruits, with one cup providing 80% of the body’s daily need for Vitamin C, and is rich in B vitamins, minerals, and fiber. In Malaysia, it’s used to treat fever, jaundice, and various skin conditions. It doesn’t mix well with alcohol, though. Consuming both at the same time can lead to nausea, vomiting, and heart palpitations.
• Another Asian fruit, the longan, can be traced back to 200 BC, when the emperor of the Han dynasty demanded that the trees be planted in his palace gardens. About the size of a grapefruit, its name translates to “dragon’s eye” in Chinese, because it looks like an eyeball when it’s shelled. Its sweet taste is similar to that of dates, and can be eaten fresh, dried, or canned.
• When we think of jujubes, it’s those chewy fruity candies we get at the movie theater. The candy has been made since 1709 when it was actually made with a small sweet red fruit native to the China of the same name, jujube. The date-like fruit with the wrinkly skin and chewy texture is also known as the Chinese date. Alternative medicine touts the fruit’s ability to improve sleep and decrease anxiety, as well as improving digestion and acting as an anti-inflammatory. Today, jujube candies are much less healthy than the originals, and don’t contain any actual jujube juice.