Exotic Fruits for the Die-Hard Foodie
There's nothing like biting into the sweet, juicy flesh of a peach in the summer, but why not try a refreshing bite of a dragon fruit ( photo right) or a handful of rambutans?
There are a number of tasty exotic fruits lining gourmet food stores and produce aisles, just waiting to be pulled apart and devoured by anyone gutsy enough to give them a try. But while passersby may be intrigued by scaly magenta skin and grass-like growth from a fruit, many just aren't sure how to approach food they've never had before.
"These new fruits represent a really great new opportunity for discovery," says Norman Van Aken, chef and author of
"At one time bananas were considered exotic, as was pineapple," he notes. "Look how much those have become mainstream."
Three to Try
One of the most eye-catching tropical fruits is the dragon fruit, which looks somewhat like an ostrich-egg-sized orb with the skin of a scaly, bright pink beast.The pulp of this cactus fruit can be purple, pink or, more commonly, white, with little black seeds like those in kiwis. And it tastes like a milder version of kiwi, with a hint of pineapple flavor. All you need to do is peel off the skin and scoop out the flesh to eat by itself or in salads. Produce specialist (and online shop)
Rambutans can be found fresh in the U.S. August through February, but are also available year-round, peeled, pitted and canned, alone or stuffed with pineapple chunks. Another tropical fruit with a deceiving appearance is the leathery, drab green cherimoya, which holds a hidden treasure of fragrant flesh. Also known as a custard apple, the cherimoya's meat is soft but luscious -- "deliciousness itself," according to Mark Twain. This green grenade combines an almost flowery scent with "tutti-frutti tropical flavors with hints of pineapple, kiwi, orange and vanilla," says Schueller. Just pull it apart or cut it in half, scoop out the fruit and discard the large black seeds. Native to Peru and Ecuador, cherimoyas are available year-round and are grown domestically from December to June.
Goodness in a GlassOne tropical fruit that has jumped in popularity recently is acai, now hailed as a wrinkle-fighting, mind-sharpening antioxidant power food. And acai berries, which boast more antioxidants than pomegranates or blueberries, are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and so-called "good fats" as well.
|Chew on a Cherimoya|
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