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Exotic Fruit 101

by Orange Naturals Team on in General, Nutrition, and Recipes

Exotic Fruit 101

How does one eat a durian? A pummelo or a carambola? You may have noticed some of these exotic fruits on your last visit to your local grocery store. How wonderful that new smells and tastes are being offered to those of us who are used to filling their carts with apples, oranges and bananas. The only challenge is figuring out how to prepare them! 

Though their appearances may be unfamiliar, taking the time to learn how to choose and eat exotic fruits is well worth the nutritional value they provide. Here’s what they’re all about.

MangosteensMangosteen

Appearance

Skin is smooth and dark purple with a green calyx on top, surrounding the stem. To get the most out of your mangosteen, look at the underside of the fruit; the number of stigma lobes will correspond to how many tasty white fruit segments are inside. The more segments in the mangosteen, the less likely you are to find seeds. Skin should give slightly when pressed and stem should be a bright green, indicating freshness.

Health Benefits

Mangosteen are low in calories and fat but contain a good amount of fibre, protein and iron. A study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences stated that xanthones, found in great quantities in mangosteen, demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-cancer effects.

Taste

The flesh is described as being both sweet and tangy. Not to be confused with a mango, the mangosteen’s flavour is hailed as unique and equally luscious and delicious!

Storage

Mangosteen will keep on the kitchen counter for a few days until you’re ready to enjoy them. Refrigeration can adversely affect the fruit, but if you must, wrap in newspaper and store on the upper shelf.

Preparation

Hold the mangosteen with the stem-end downward. With a sharp knife, cut around the middle through the skin, careful not to cut too deep or you’ll damage the fruit. Lift off the top, separate the segments with a fork and enjoy.

DurianDurian

This spiky, football-shaped delicacy definitely stands out among the more familiar smooth-skinned fruit in the produce section. Look for a durian that still has the stem or stalk attached; it’s the only way to really determine ripeness. A shrunken or dried stem tells you the fruit is past its prime. Shake the durian and listen for loose seeds, indicating the pulp has dried somewhat and is ready for eating.

Health Benefits

Durians are rich in dietary fibre, thiamin, vitamin B6 and manganese. They also happen to be a very good source of vitamin C. Raw food advocates recommend them as a good source of raw fats.

Taste

While foodies find the custard-like inner flesh nutty and sweet, others can find it strong and unappetizing and liken the flavour to onion or garlic. The only way to really find out if it’s for you is to crack one open and dig in!

Storage

Keep durians at room temperature, away from other foods. Cracks or seams appearing on the outer shell indicate ripeness. The pulp can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Preparation

Follow the natural seams with a sharp knife, slicing through the outer skin. If the durian is ripe enough, you can pull the hull apart into two halves. If not, use a knife to cut through the membrane. Scoop the flesh out and enjoy.

Pomelo or Chinese grapefruit isolated on whitePummelo

Pummelos hold the title of largest citrus fruit in the western world. You might want to share one with a friend as one pummelo can contain as many as 18 segments. The peel varies from a greenish to a pale yellow and looks similar in shape and texture to a grapefruit. Chose a firm, thin-skinned pummelo that is heavy for its size.

Health Benefits

One hundred grams of pummelo contains one hundred fifty percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. The fruit and juice has been shown to increase absorption of certain drugs, which can be beneficial therapeutically but can also increase side effects.

Taste

Pummelos are not only similar to grapefruits in appearance but also in taste. Flavour varies from sweet to slightly acidic with a touch of bitterness.

Storage

A ripe pummelo will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Preparation

Other than taking twice as long to peel as an orange, pummelos are a simply prepared fruit. The segments can be used in salads, desserts or made into preserves. Throw pummelo sections into the juicer for a nutritious change from your usual morning beverage.

Dragon fruiitDragon Fruit

Once you set eyes on this flashy fruit, you won’t be able to pass it by without giving it a second look. The dragon fruit is aptly named with it’s fiery red skin and green scales. This exotic fruit hails from South America and is a member of the cactus family. Squeeze lightly to test for freshness, fruit should give slightly.

Health Benefits

The juice of the dragon fruit is similar to beetroot in terms of high antiradical activity. Potassium, magnesium and calcium are three rich minerals prevalent in the pulp.

Taste

Dragon fruit has a mildly sweet taste and is often compared to the kiwi fruit because of similar black, sesame seed-sized crunchy seeds embedded within the flesh.

Storage

Keep ripe dragon fruit in the refrigerator and use within a week.

Preparation

Dragon fruit is best enjoyed chilled, cut in half and eaten right out of the skin with a spoon. The flesh is versatile and can be chopped to use in fruit salads, made into ice cream or used to flavour soft drinks and marmalades.

carambola - star fruitCarambola or Start Fruit

Carambolas may look like plain, yellow, waxy fruits when displayed at the grocery store, but bring one home, slice it up and you get a plateful of 5 or 6-pointed star snacks! The flesh is translucent, crisp, yet juicy and makes for an attractive garnish on any dish.

Health Benefits

Carambolas are good sources of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and copper. Those who suffer from kidney trouble are recommended to avoid eating carambola due to its oxalic acid content.

 Taste

Carambolas are as unique in taste as they are in shape. They are often compared apples, pears or even grapes with a slightly tart or acidic but sweet taste.

Storage

Keep fruit at room temperature until ribs have lightly browned edges indicating ripeness. Look for firm, shiny skinned and even coloured fruit when choosing carambolas at the market. Brown, shriveled ribs indicate fruit is overripe.

Preparation

Simply wash and slice. No need to peel off the waxy skin, it’s edible!

 

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