Home-grown fruits, especially organically grown ones, are one of the most desirable luxuries of life, and a tropical climate is ideal for their cultivation. However, many people do not take the time to carefully plan their site or orchard. This can result in unnecessary waste of money and time. There are also a number of fruit trees that make effective windbreaks, are of ornamental value and possess nitrogen fixing abilities. With so many fruits to choose from it’s no wonder that some people become confused when starting out. Here are a range of tropic delights to discover for the home orchard or to delight the palate from the organic farmers market fruit stalls. Not only for fresh eating but for drying, preserving, juicing and food preparation from mother nature.
Starting your home tropical orchard
- It is sound advice is to talk to people who have already experienced home orcharding within your locality.
- Local organisations are a good place to start, permaculture and organic growing groups, rare fruit societies, state department of agriculture or your local nursery.
- Planting your orchard is a fairly permanent decision so it is wise to base your choices on as much information as possible.
- With the correct information you can make your land very pleasant, healthy and productive.
- When planning your orchard, clarify what you hope to achieve.
- Would you like to grow enough fruit to keep your family supplied all year, grow enough citrus for breakfast juices or grow some of those unusual favourites that are not readily available commercially?
Here is an alphabet of Tropical Delights
- It is highly prized, having been cultivated for centuries in domestic orchards in the tropical Amazon Basin of Bolivia.
- Of all the many exotic fruit I tried during my travels, my favourite and by far the most memorable and addictive in flavour was the achachairú (Achacha) – from an Australian visitor to South America.
- It is refreshing to eat, at ambient temperature, when served cold or even frozen.
- There is a fine balance between its sweetness and its acidity, creating a unique taste sensation.
- It has exotic appeal similar to the mangosteen, longan, rambutan and lychee.
- The Achacha is a cousin of the mangosteen which is known as the “queen of tropical fruit” throughout Asia.
- An exciting feature of the Achacha fruit is that it does not ripen further once harvested.
- So technically it is a non-climacteric fruit, like the pineapple, cherry, and orange (as compared to a climacteric fruit like a mango or banana).
- And it likes to be kept at room temperature!
- A household refrigerator stores perishable food at about 5°C; this is too cold for the Achacha, unless you are planning on eating it that day.
- At about 20°C – room temperature – it will keep for days in the fruit bowl, and weeks if stored in a closed container or bag so that it does not dry out.
- Refrigerate for an hour or so before eating if you would like to sharpen up the flavour!
- The Achacha is aimed at all food lovers who will respond to the fine taste and nutritious qualities of an attractive, environmentally sustainable fruit.
- Children love it!
- Achachas can be frozen in their skins for a long period – put some away until the next year’s crop arrives!
- Take Achacha from freezer, run under cold tap, run knife around skin both ways.
- After removal of skin, remove the white fleshy part.
- It is easy to remove pulp from frozen fruit.
- This pulp can then be used for sorbet and ice-cream.
- For salads use only fresh fruit.
- Seeds and skin can be transformed to a tasty scrap vinegar.
- The avocado is a dense, evergreen tree, shedding many leaves in early spring. It is fast growing and can with age reach 80 feet, although usually less, to form a broad tree.
- Some cultivars are columnar, others selected for nearly prostrate form.
- One cultivar makes a good espalier.
- Growth is in frequent flushes during warm weather in southern regions with only one long flush per year in cooler areas.
- Injury to branches causes a secretion of dulcitol, a white, powdery sugar, at scars.
- Roots are coarse and greedy and will raise pavement with age.
- Grafted plants normally produce fruit within one to two years compared to 8 – 20 years for seedlings.
- Avocado makes an excellent dip – blend a block of organic fetta cheese, lemon juice and rind, garlic, sauerkraut brine and add avocado.
- Do not over process.
- Makes an interesting dessert, a easy all in together blender preparation – 1 cup shredded coconut + banana + 2 tablespoons sweetener + dash of organic vanilla powder + juice of 2 lemons and some grated lemon rind.
- Blend until smooth and chill in refrigerator.
- Makes a perfect base for a raw rainbow pie or cacao mousse or a smoothie.
The abiu tree is a medium sized evergreen tree, which can grow up to 15 metres in height under ideal conditions.
- The abiu is a denizen of the headwaters of the Amazon.
- The fruit is oval- to spherical-shaped and ranging from 6 to 12 cm in length.
- The fruit weighs between 400 to 700 g, and is pointed at the stigma end.
- When ripe, the skin turns a yellow colour.
- The skin can be leathery in texture, 3-5 mm thick and produce a sticky latex.
- The translucent and white flesh inside has a caramel flavour surrounding 1-5 seeds.
- A real taste treat when eaten slightly chilled.
- Cut in half and scoop out the caramel flavoured grape like flesh with a spoon.
- Best eaten chilled.
- Avoid the exuding latex close to the skin.
The acerola is believed to originate from the Yucatan (linguistic evidence) and is distributed from South Texas, through Mexico (especially on the West Coast from Sonora to Guerrero) and Central America to northern South America (Venezuela, Surinam, Columbia) and throughout the Caribbean (Bahamas to Trinidad). Acerola has now been successfully introduced in sub-tropical areas throughout the world (Australia, Southeast Asia, India, South America) some of the largest plantings are in Brazil. Trees can survive brief exposure to 28° F with loss of leaves.
- Trees are sensitive to wind (shallow root systems).
- The acerola is drought tolerant, and will adopt a deciduous habit; irrigation results in leaf and flower flush.
- Plants can easily adapt to pot culture in well-draining, limed soil.
- Similar in appearance to a cherry.
- The fruit, which has a sweet flavour and one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C, is used in desserts, juice, cordial, smoothies and preserves.
- It’s also called Barbados cherry, Puerto Rican cherry and West Indies cherry.
- Eat fresh, add to juice and smoothies.
- Juice – 100g Acerola + 150ml Water + 1 teaspoon honey.
- Smoothie – Blend –100g Acerola + Handful of Blueberries + 2 Strawberries + 150ml Apple Juice.
- Smoothies can add kefir or yoghurt of choice.
The babaco thrives in a cool subtropical climate, free of frost.
- The babaco is a small, herbaceous shrub, that grows to about 6 feet in height, with an erect softwood trunk lined with leaf scars typical of other caricas.
- The plant rarely branches but shoots often appear around the base.
- The thickness of the trunk is associated with the vigour of the plant.
- The babaco is ideally suited to container culture and also excellent for greenhouses.
- Champagne fruit, looks similar to the papaya (paw paw) with a taste similar to strawberries with just a hint of pineapple.
- Can eat the whole fruit, wash the skin, chill and slice.
- Makes a refreshing chilled soup, blend and add a touch of spice and herbs.
- Add diced fruit to mouth-watering fruit salads.
- Eat only when 100% yellow.
- Babaco is a good source of vitamin C.
- The fruit can be eaten raw, juiced, stewed, bottled naturally, or even baked.
- The fruit cooks well and stays firm, similar in texture to a cooked pear.
- The babaco can also be frozen.
Bananas must be the ultimate in nature’s ‘ fast foods’.
- When grown in rich soil and matured under the tropical sun, they are not only full of flavour, but are packed full of the vital nutritional necessities of life.
- The natural packaging of the banana is unique in design.
- The skin, a completely waterproof raincoat in bright yellow, does not require a knife to remove it when the fruit is ripe.
- The natural unrefined carbohydrates and sugars contain essential nutrients, and the average sized banana has only approximately 87 calories – which is the same as a grapefruit. It is one of the richest sources of potassium in nature.
- The fruit is loaded with fibre and has useful amounts of vitamins A, B and C and folic acid. Rich in iron, the banana is almost a complete food in itself.
- There are many false statements made about bananas being fattening.
- The low calorie content means that one serving of cottage cheese contains more calories than one banana.
- Unlike some fruit trees which require separate male and female trees, the banana tree forms both male and female flowers on the same tree.
- Most healthy trees will fruit at 12 months old, so it really is one of nature’s fast foods.
- Fruit should begin to form when the tree has about 8 or 9 large leaves at the same time.
- The lower leaves brown and dry as the tree grows.
- Only female flowers form into fruit.
- The fleshy fibrous stem is actually edible after boiling, although it is rather a second class tasting vegetable.
- This stem is inside the overlapping leaf base and is in the form of a core which terminates in the flowering bud at the top.
- Banana trees are ornamental as well as useful, and will grow outside their tropical environment provided they are planted in a sunny, well drained and sheltered spot where there is no likelihood of frosts.
- They have a very shallow root system, so need lots of water.
- We grow in sandy soil with lots of mulch added and they have a continuous water supply channelled from the kitchen waste pipe.
- Large round based suckers seem to produce the healthiest trees, but the roots and tops should be reduced somewhat when planting them in the spring.
- Many new suckers develop from the parent plant, but only the strongest ones should be left to grow, the others and the parent should be removed after fruiting.
- The bunches of fruit should be cut when green, but most be fully formed and lost their angular shape.
- They can then be hung and will ripen gradually up the stem.
- If left on the tree they should be covered with plastic bags.
- If purchasing bananas green and they turn an even colour of yellow in less than 24 hours — a sure sign that mother nature has been played around with ethylene gas.
- Bananas generally take about 4 – 12 days to naturally ripen.
- When properly ripened the banana is at its quality best when the colour is deep golden yellow with speckles of brown.
- Once the ripening process has been stopped by cold (from air-conditioned shops) that is the finally. There is no comparison in flavour or fragrance between mother natures bananas and forced-ripened ones.
- Refrigerate bananas when fully ripe, the skins will turn brown, but the inside will remain tasty.
- Great for blender preparations.
- Freeze peeled whole or sliced bananas for smoothies, ice creams, cream, frostings and icings, sorbets.
- Frozen banana put through the champion juicer makes a tasty all natural ice-cream. Great as a creamy ice-cream base to add other fruits, berries and coconut. Or dip a banana in chocolate and place a stick and freeze – monkey tails.
Dry bananas in a home-made solar dryer or electric dehydrator, have a supply all year round.
They are delightful to munch on between meals, or may be readily reconstituted in water, kefir, kombucha or juice.
- Plantain Banana
This type of banana is only used for cooking or drying for green banana flour.
- The fruit reaches quite large proportions and may be baked, roasted, boiled, fried or added as an ingredient to soups, stews and casseroles.
- It may be used in the same way as potatoes.
- When dry it may be ground into a flour known as banana-meal.
- The mature leaves of some plantain bananas yield a valuable fibre, the best of which is a Manila hemp.
- Peel plantains and split open with thumb, place combined grated coconut and honey, cover with coconut milk.
- Simmer on stove or oven bake until bananas are soft.
- Serve hot or cold.
- Native Banana Flowers
- The large conical bud at the apex of the flowering stalk can be fermented or boiled and eaten, but several changes of water are necessary to reduce the bitter flavour.
- Sometimes the purple bracts are very tough, but the flowers are usually softer.
- Young white parts of shoots at the base of the plant can fermented or boiled and eaten.
- Banana Leaves and Stalks
- The broad waxy leaves of the banana tree have a multitude of uses, such as wrapping food for cooking, serving platters for food, separators for different foods in underground cooking, decoration for wearing apparel for Sing-Sings and festivities and more.
- Banana Craft
- The leaf with its waxy coating is an excellent natural work bench covering when using hot wax with batik work.
- The so called ‘ banana trash’ which is the dried peeling outer covering of the main trunk (it is actually the base of the leaves) makes a wonderful weaving fibre for all sorts of baskets and woven objects.
We are all familiar with the conventional recipes such as banana split, banana fritters, banana custard and so on…don’t toss the peels into the compost…
This is the plant that the H.M.S. Bounty was carrying in the South Pacific when its crew mutinied. Captain Bligh’s goal had been to transport the seedlings from Tahiti to the Caribbean, so that slaves there would have a ready source of starch and calories.
- Breadfruit is highly perishable, so fresh ones are hard to find outside the tropics.
- The trees bear prolifically and one can fulfil a family’s requirements for most of the year in place of rice and potato.
- A 3 1/2 oz portion contains 103 calories: it is 70 % water; 1% protein; and about 26 % carbohydrate, with traces of minerals and vitamins.
- The trees are very big with shiny green leaves about 18 inches long.
- The leaves are dark and waxy on top and rough light green underneath.
- The fruit is round, with a hexagonal pattern covering it, like Monsterio, but smooth.
- Breadfruit has a very plain taste, so it is best served with seasonal dressing or stuffing.
- You can mash it like potato.
- It also makes great chips and crisps, which are delicious brown and crispy.
- Cacao is an evergreen tree that generally grows from 10 – 30 feet in height and is native to the tropical regions of the American continents.
- It is found naturally in the Amazon River Basin as well as the Orinoco River Basin, and can also be found bearing its “fruit” at the base of the Andes Mountain range in foothill elevations of 600 – 1300 ft. above sea level.
- It is widely accepted by many cacao experts that the tree was native to Mexico, and brought wild to be cultivated in South America.
- The fruit of the cacao, known as the cacao pod, ripens to a hearty orange or yellow colour, and weighs close to a pound.
- Within these pods, there is a load of seeds, which are generally referred to as cacao beans.
- Each seed is made up of about 40 percent fat, which is typically extracted and called cocoa butter.
- Cacao nibs, the peeled, crushed cacao seeds/beans, are full of antioxidants, rich in good fat and minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron and potassium.
- Organic cacao nibs, eat like granola, by the spoonful like cereal or even grind into coffee.
- Sprinkled on natural ice-cream, or added to a smoothie, make a natural raw chocolate.
- Cacao – Just another example of nature’s candies.
- Egg custard from a tree.
- A mid-sized tree, usually 20-40feet, but up to 100feet.
- Leaves are slender, glossy, and sharply tapered at the base.
- Branches contain a gummy latex.
- Tolerant of a wide variety of soils, and can grow in poor soil.
- Seedling trees produce in 3-6 years, grafted or air layered trees a year or two earlier.
- Fruiting generally occurs during the winter months and on into spring.
- The yellow flesh has a sweet earthy flavour and a meaty texture similar to a boiled egg.
- Referred to as a Yellow Sapote the fruits can be eaten fresh, added to icecream, smoothies or milk drinks.
5 fingers, five corner fruit or star fruit.
- The carambola tree is slow-growing, short-trunked with a much-branched, bushy, broad, rounded crown and reaches 20 to 30 ft (6-9 m) in height.
- Its deciduous leaves, spirally arranged, are alternate, imparipinnate, 6 to 10 in(15-20 cm) long, with 5 to 11 nearly opposite leaflets, ovate or ovate-oblong, 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 in (3.8-9 cm) long; soft, medium-green, and smooth on the upper surface, finely hairy and whitish on the underside.
- The leaflets are sensitive to light and more or less inclined to fold together at night or when the tree is shaken or abruptly shocked.
- Small clusters of red-stalked, lilac, purple-streaked, downy flowers, about 1/4 in (6 mm) wide, are borne on the twigs in the axils of the leaves.
- The showy, oblong, longitudinally 5- to 6-angled fruits, 2 1/2 to 6 in (6.35-15 cm) long and up to 3 1/2 (9 cm) wide, have thin, waxy, orange-yellow skin and juicy, crisp, yellow flesh when fully ripe. Slices cut in cross-section have the form of a star.
- The fruit has a more or less pronounced oxalic acid odour and the flavour ranges from very sour to mildly sweetish.
- The so-called “sweet” types rarely contain more than 4% sugar.
- There may be up to 12 flat, thin, brown seeds 1/4 to 1/2 in (6-12.5 mm) long or none at all.
- There are 2 distinct classes of carambola–the smaller, very sour type, richly flavoured, with more oxalic acid; the larger, so-called “sweet” type, mild-flavoured, rather bland, with less oxalic acid.
- The carambola should be classed as tropical and sub-tropical because mature trees can tolerate freezing temperatures for short periods and sustain little damage at 27º F (-2.78º C).
- Carambolas can be sliced into attractive starshaped, added as a garnish to fruit salad, fish, decorate a cake with thin slices before baking. Fermented or added to sauerkraut.
- It is also a good fruit for juicing, especially tasty combined with carrots and ginger.
- No need to peel the fruit, trim each rib and remove the darker green edge which is very bitter.
- Custard Apple
- The ugly duckling.
- The custard apple tree is not especially attractive, although the tasty fruit makes up for the looks. The tree is erect, with a rounded or spreading crown and trunk 10 to 14 in (25-35 cm) thick.
- Height ranges from 15 to 35 feet (4.5-10 m).
- The ill-smelling leaves are deciduous, alternate, oblong or narrow-lanceolate, 4 to 8 in (10-20 cm) long, 3/4 to 2 in (2 5 cm) wide, with conspicuous veins.
- Flowers, in drooping clusters, are fragrant, slender, with 3 outer fleshy, narrow petals 3/4 to 1 1/4 in (2 3 cm) long; light-green externally and pale-yellow with a dark-red or purple spot on the inside at the base.
- The flowers never fully open.
- Eat raw, use in fruit salads, add to mashed bananas, make into ice-cream and sorbets, drinks, desserts, fillings for cakes and as an accompaniment to spicy dishes such as curry.
- Complimentary flavours are cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon, orange, honey and vanilla.
- Put custard apple flesh in a blender and blend for two seconds only, the seeds will scoop out easily.
- For breakfast, serve beside yoghurt and orange juice soaked muesli.
- Spoon out pulp and mix with kefir, sour cream or yoghurt for a parfait dish.
- The Chocolate Persimmon tree produces a delicious fruit that many gardeners compare to sweet chocolate.
- Small to medium size oblong fruit with bright red skin.
- Sweet, spicy, firm brown flesh with a few seeds when grown with a pollinizer, orange flesh and seedless without a pollinizer.
- Superb flavour – the choice of connoisseurs – astringent until ripe.
- Delicious blended with milk kefir or yogurt for chocolate custard or mousse for cake filling / or ganache cake topping.
- In the Pacific the coconut tree is as vital to the islander as the supermarket is to the city dweller.
- The coconut tree provides building material, fuel for cooking, items of clothing such as hats, buckles and buttons, as well as shade, food and drink.
- Throughout all stages of maturity coconuts have different qualities and uses.
- From just a thin film of transparent gel the flesh gradually thickens and solidifies during months the coconut takes to mature.
- Once the nut attains a reasonable size the flesh can be eaten and the liquid drunk.
- The young, soft flesh is often given to babies as a first solid.
- The liquid is used as a sterile substitute for breast milk when babies are being weaned.
- The wonder liquid is also excellent consumed to help drop high temperatures.
- A very immature coconut has a green husk and sounds empty when tapped.
- It doesn’t have much meat and the little liquid it contains can be tart.
- A slightly older nut, still green but full size, is the best drinking nut.
- It sounds solid when tapped because it is now full of liquid.
- At this point the liquid is sweet and effervescent, and the flesh is quite firm.
- An almost mature nut which is just turning brown is still good to drink and the flesh is firmer.
- You can hear the liquid sloshing around inside if you shake these nuts.
- To prepare a coconut for drinking, use a clean stainless steel bit on a drill and drill a hole in the centre of the nut and insert a straw.
Use a clean axe or cane knife to cut the nut in half and delight in the yogurt or meat.
- The Pitaya (dragon fruit) is a stunningly beautiful fruit with an intense colour and shape, magnificent flowers and a delicious taste.
- There are two types available -Red and Yellow.
- The red although very attractive is not as flavoursome as the yellow variety and requires cross pollination.
- Yellow fruit and white flesh are thought to be the best flavoured pitaya, but very thorny.
- As a garnish and a delicious fresh fruit.
- To eat the fruit serve chilled and cut in half. Scoop out the flesh and seeds much like a kiwi fruit. Delicious dried or added to kefir or yogurt or put through champion juicer as a frozen ice-cream mixed with banana.
It is the most awful smelling fruit on the planet, once you part the spikey skin, its sweet creamy texture and deep flavour make it one of the world’s great fruits.
Regarded by many people in south east Asia as the “king of fruits”.
There is a popular expression to describe the durian’s creamy yellow flesh: it tastes like heaven but smells like hell.
- Durian is the fruit of trees of the genus Durio belonging to the Malvaceae, a large family which includes hibiscus, okra, cotton, mallows and linden trees.
- The texture is like baked custard, while the smell and taste are simply in-describable but delicious.
Inside the prickly, yellowish green outer casing, is a generous bed of white pith. Embedded in the pith are several lumps of pale yellow flesh, each of which contains a single dark brown stone. The yellow flesh is what you eat.
- “It is of such an excellent taste that it surpasses in flavour all the other fruits of the world.” (quote from a British traveller about durian in 1599).
- Fermented durian, or tempoyak, is a traditional condiment in Malaysia and Indonesia often mixed with coconut milk curries or pounded with chilies into a spicy dip. If you get the chance to try durian you should – it is an obsession in South East Asia. In Malaysia, some use the leaves for medicinal purposes in healing fevers or jaundice.
- Tempoyak can be eaten either cooked or uncooked. It is enjoyed mixed with freshly pounded chili paste to be eaten as a garnish with plain steamed rice, and used for making curry, in cooking seafood dishes like gulai tempoyak ikan patin (soup of Patin fish – a type of catfish).
- Sambal Tempoyak is a Sumatran dish made from the fermented durian fruit, coconut milk, and a collection of spicy ingredients known as sambal. When it is added to coconut cream, it adds another dimension in flavour and cuts through the creaminess of the coconut milk, and eaten with fish (normally salted fish), ulam (salads of raw cucumbers and other shoots).
- After the fermentation, the pungent smell, or the repulsive smell of durian is reduced.
- How you make your tempoyak is up to you, but here is a basic recipe to get you started
- To prepare homemade tempoyak, simply add salt to durian flesh (without the seeds). For every cup of durian flesh, add a tablespoon of salt. Keep overnight in an airtight glass container in a cool, dark place. Give it a stir the next day, place in an airtight jar and leave for 3 to 4 days. The tempoyak is now ready. Chilled tempoyak can be kept for up to a few months. If it turns too sour for your taste, add fresh durian flesh.
- Adam and Eve may have found that the leaves of the fig spared their blushes, but it’s the fruit that is worth discovering.
- Figs are one of the greatest fruits for the small garden.
- They take up very little space, are easy to care for, a joy to watch, and produce some of the most delicious fruit available on the planet.
- Figs are very attractive in the urban garden.
- Their large leaves give a tropical look to a patio area.
- They look stunning when underlit at night.
- Growing figs in containers provides the root restriction necessary to achieve a balance of healthy and productive growth.
- Container growing also allows for fruits to be protected from frost in a cold greenhouse over winter and moved outside for the summer.
- Fruit is delicious fresh, dried, and for jam, desserts, breakfast, cakes, treats etc.
- Guavas actually thrive in both humid and dry climates, but can survive only a few degrees of frost. The tree will recover from a brief exposure to 29° F but may be completely defoliated.
- Young trees are particularly sensitive to cold spells.
- Older trees, killed to the ground, have sent up new shoots which fruited 2 years later.
- Guavas can take considerable neglect, withstanding temporary waterlogging and very high temperatures.
- They tend to bear fruit better in areas with a definite winter or cooler season.
- The adaptability of the guava makes it a serious weed tree in some tropical areas.
- The smaller guava cultivars can make an excellent container specimen.
- Guavas can be fermented, stewed, made into jelly, jam and cheese.
Grapefruit and Citrus
- Pomello, Lemonade, Lime, Lemon, Mandarin, Orange, Tangelo, Tangerine, Kumquat
Citrus are native to Asia and are attractive, evergreen trees with fragrant blossoms.
- They are one of the most popular trees in the home garden but unfortunately unhealthy looking specimens are common, as their needs are not always understood.
- Citrus need regular feeding and attention paid to preventing pests and diseases.
- One important rule for citrus is never grow it in the middle of lawn, with grass right up to the trunk and expect it to thrive.
- The grass competes for water and nutrients and also releases allelopathic chemicals into the soil that diminish the vigour of the tree.
- Only ever pick dry fruit. Lemons and limes should be picked 2 weeks before required as they become much easier to juice after this time.
- Use secateurs to cut citrus from the tree and trim close to the ‘button’ as leaving a sharp stalk causes damage to the skins of nearby fruit in storage, causing rot.
- If it is desirable to store lemons for long periods they should be picked just as they are turning yellow, wrapped loosely in paper and stored in an open cardboard box in a cool, dark, well-aired place.
- Citrus for preserves and jam making especially kumquat, lemon / lime juice will prevent apple, pear and banana from discolouring in fruit salad.
- Pomelo the largest of all the citrus family, pink flesh.
- Add citrus to brines, cakes, juice, cordial, curd, cocktails, party punch, sauce, soups, salads, crepes, marinade and to tenderize food.
Jakfruit / Jackfruit (or breadnut)
- The big grandfather of all tree fruit. The leaves are oval and about nine inches long, dark green and waxy. The fruit has a hexagonal pattern on the skin and smells very vile when over-ripe.
- The flesh is golden yellow, very sweet and juicy and tastes similar to banana and pineapple. You eat the segments inside.
- Inside are big dark nuts. These are boiled until cooked, then crack and remove the brown shell and thick brown skin.
- The steamed seeds are delicious pan fried in organic coconut oil with curry leaves. Can also use in soups, salads, stews, or added to stuffing.
- use jackfruit in a salad as you would use sliced water chestnuts, or to dip into a cheese dip.
- Make them into kebabs, either plain or wrapped in organic bacon.
- Just delish to eat the ripe fruit fresh!
- In India this fruit is picked green and eaten as a vegetable in curries.
- For use in this way, the fruit is usually harvested and cooked before the seeds have fully formed.
- When the fruit has softened to ripe, the soft varieties can be sliced to open one side and then pulled apart easily. The fruit contains dozens of fleshy segments, each enclosing a seed.
- Firm fleshed varieties can also be eaten when ripe, but the segments have to be cut out, as the flesh will not pull apart easily.
- Cutting this fruit releases the latex, which does not dissolve in water and so cannot be washed off the hands or implements.
- One trick is to wipe the hands and knife with cooking oil before cutting the fruit, and the latex will not stick.
- If you forget to do this and get covered in latex, you will have to use kerosene to clean everything! There is a golden crunchy variety which does not have the latex when ripe and has an exquisite flavour! The cooked seeds provide protein for vegetarians.
- The fruit makes a tasty treat when dried.
- The seeds can be roasted in hot coals of a burned down fire.
2 cups boiled or steamed, shelled and chopped nuts.
1/3 cup chopped celery and onions.
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, seasoning, water to moisten and coconut oil to fry.
Fry the nuts, onion and celery, add breadcrumbs and moisten.
Stuff vegetables, fish or poultry.
- The chempedak is native to, and much appreciated in Malaysia.
- It is a close relative of the jackfruit.
- Compared with jackfruit, chempedak is, smaller, more elongated, and has a “waist”, a slight narrowing near the middle of the fruit.
- The rind has a pungent odour, is thinner than the jackfruit’s and its spines are flattened to studs.
- The flesh tends to be juicier, darker yellow and sweeter.
- Uses of the fruit’s arils, rags and seeds are like that of the jackfruit but the chempedak is more suited to dessert dishes.
- The Marang, also known as tarap, resembles both the jackfruit and the seeded breadfruit in appearance.
- This stately tree is of South East Asian origin.
- Its large leaves are similar to the breadfruit’s, but they are less lobed.
- The Latin name indicates that the fruit is fine smelling. Contrasting the marang’s robust aroma, the fruit is succulent and mildly flavoured, quite suiting the palate of the uninitiated Westerners.
- The fruit is regarded as superior to both jackfruit and chempedak.
- The fruit does not fall when ripe.
- It may be harvested mature but hard, and left to soft ripen.
- Marang turns green-yellow when ripe.
- Ripe fruit is opened by cutting the rind around the fruit.
- Twisting and gently pulling the halves leaves the fruit’s flesh separated.
- The internal structure is similar to the jackfruit’s.
- The core is relatively large, but there are fewer “rags” and more of the edible fruit.
- Arils are white and the size of a grape, each containing a 12mm long seed.
- Once opened, the marang should be consumed within a few hours, as it loses flavour quickly and fruit darkens.
- The tree is less cold tolerant than the breadfruit.
- It would grow only between latitude 15º north and south, and only in coastal regions where temperatures never “plummet” below 7ºC.
- The longan is a symmetrical, evergreen tree with dense dark green foliage.
- Often considered the poorer cousin of the illustrious lychee, the longan is very popular in its own right.
- Fruits vary in size, but are usually about the size of a very large grape.
- The thin yellow-brown skin encloses a translucent white pulp surrounding a single dark seed, hence another name “Dragon’s Eye.”
- Similar look to lychee with a smooth outer.
- The longan is mildly hardy, and can survive brief temperature drops to 25-30F.
- However, it grows best in a warm subtropical climate.
- Longan may be propagated by seed, cuttings, air layers or grafting.
- The seeds lose viability quickly and should be kept moist or planted promptly.
- Air layering is the most common method of propagating the longan, but the resulting trees have weak root systems, and may be blown over in strong winds. Grafting methods used include cleft, side veneer and approach.
- Seedling trees can take 7 years or more to fruit, while grafted or air layered trees produce in 3-4 years or less.
- Longan fruit is consumed fresh, dried and frozen.
- Fresh fruit is consumed to reduce fevers, and the dried fruit as a cure for insomnia.
- Leaves contain quercetin, with antioxidant and antiviral properties, and are used in the treatment of allergies, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
- Crushed seeds produce foam, can be used as a shampoo.
- The wood is used in the construction of furniture and other articles.
- The tree is also planted as an ornamental.
Another exquisite tropical delight. Peel away the red leathery outside and delight in the taste of the nectar from the Gods!
- Almost every one who grows a lychee tree will want to know how to maximize the growth of the tree and minimize potential problems.
- The best way you can assure a healthy tree is to start with a healthy soil.
- Most people think that the primary purpose of soil is to hold the tree in place and provide a growing medium for the roots.
- When a tree develops problems, which are manifested in changes to the visible portion of the tree (branches and leaves), the first response is to spray something on the leaves or on the roots. Generally, the problem is with the roots and the cause is an unhealthy soil. In fact the soil is a complex ecosystem of interacting organisms, known as a “food web” which convert organic material into a form of nitrogen that the tree can use.
- Comes from the tropical lowlands of Central America.
- Many varieties available.
- Smaller fruits generally have less fibrous flesh.
- Seedling trees grow very tall and are very slow to fruit.
- The fruit is large, round and is brown skinned.
- The flesh is firm, bright pink inside, with a pleasant peach-apricot flavour.
- Fruit is picked hard and can have several days before it softens.
- Once soft it can be kept under refrigeration for up to a week with no flavour loss.
- Delicious as a smoothie, the flavour is enhanced by lime juice.
- Small pieces can be mixed in a green salad.
- A true tropical gift, what better way to eat , fully ripened organic mango – cut and peel the skin with fingers ummmmm!
- Mangos basically require a frost-free climate.
- Flowers and small fruit can be killed if temperatures drop below 40° F, even for a short period. Young trees may be seriously damaged if the temperature drops below 30° F, but mature trees may withstand very short periods of temperatures as low as 25° F. The mango must have warm, dry weather to set fruit.
- Mango trees make handsome landscape specimens and shade trees.
- They are erect and fast growing with sufficient heat, and the canopy can be broad and rounded, or more upright, with a relatively slender crown.
- It is ultimately a large tree.
- The tree is long-lived with some specimens known to be over 300 years old and still fruiting. In deep soil the taproot descends to a depth of 20 ft, and the profuse, wide-spreading feeder roots also send down many anchor roots which penetrate for several feet.
Another great tropical treasure, makes a great snack dried, especially for camping, hiking and biking snacks. Add fresh mango to smoothies, natural ice-cream, cakes, marinades and tropical cocktails.
- Grapes are considered the “Fruit of the Gods,” while durians are considered the “King of Fruit.” Do you know what fruit is considered the “Queen of Fruit?” Mangosteen –
- Known as the queen of tropical fruit. The following from The Gardeners’ Chronicle, No. 22, p. 371-372. June 22, 1855.
- When ripe the fruit is as delicate and agreeably sweet as the finest lansehs (another famous Malay fruit tree, of which a variety called the Duku is the domesticated representation which ought next to engage the attention of the wealthy) and may even be mistaken for ripe grapes. It is at the same time so juicy, that many people can never eat enough of it, so delicious is its fragrance and agreeable its sweetness; and it is believed that the sick, when appetite or the power of eating has wholly gone, are nevertheless delighted with this fruit; or at least if they will not take to Mangosteens their case is indeed hopeless.”
- Mangosteen can only be grown in temperatures above 40 degrees and up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, it requires shading of at least 50% for the first few years of its growth.
- It also requires a high humidity with an average rainfall of above 50 inches.
- The mangosteen tree is very slow-growing, erect, with a pyramidal crown; attains 20 to 82 ft (6-25 m) in height, has dark-brown or nearly black, flaking bark, the inner bark containing much yellow, gummy, bitter latex.
- The evergreen, opposite, short-stalked leaves are ovate-oblong or elliptic, leathery and thick, dark-green, slightly glossy above, yellowish-green and dull beneath; 3 1/2 to 10 in (9-25 cm) long, 1 3/4 to 4 in (4.5-10 cm) wide, with conspicuous, pale midrib.
- New leaves are rosy. Flowers, 1 1/2 to 2 in (4-5 cm) wide and fleshy, may be male or hermaphrodite on the same tree.
- The former are in clusters of 3-9 at the branch tips; there are 4 sepals and 4 ovate, thick, fleshy petals, green with red spots on the outside, yellowish-red inside, and many stamens though the aborted anthers bear no pollen.
- The hermaphrodite are borne singly or in pairs at the tips of young branchlets; their petals may be yellowish-green edged with red or mostly red, and are quickly shed.
- The fruit, capped by the prominent calyx at the stem end and with 4 to 8 triangular, flat remnants of the stigma in a rosette at the apex, is round, dark-purple to red-purple and smooth externally; 1 1/3 to 3 in (3.4-7.5 cm) in diameter.
- The rind is 1/4 to 3/8 in (6-10 mm) thick, red in cross-section, purplish-white on the inside. It contains bitter yellow latex and a purple, staining juice.
- There are 4 to 8 triangular segments of snow-white, juicy, soft flesh (actually the arils of the seeds). The fruit may be seedless or have 1 to 5 fully developed seeds, ovoid-oblong, somewhat flattened, 1 in (2.5 cm) long and 5/8 in (1.6 cm) wide, that cling to the flesh.
- The flesh is slightly acid and mild to distinctly acid in flavour and is acclaimed as exquisitely luscious and delicious. Eat when outer is deep purple and delight in the pearl white flesh.
- Its composition taken from the 1990 edition of the Food Composition Table prepared by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute is as follows.
- The pulp, which is very light and soft and has an exquisite flavour, is best eaten fresh, preferably after chilling the fruit.
- The pulp and seed, when boiled with sugar, make an excellent preserve or topping for ice cream or sherbet. The seeds have a delicious nutty flavour.
- The leaves and bark, claimed to be medicinal, are used as astringent to cure aphtha or thrush.
- They are also used as a febrifuge or antipyretic while the pericarp is regarded as very effective in curing chronic intestinal catarrh.
- The pericarp contains 7-15% tannin and it is used for dyeing.
- A decoction of the root may be taken to achieve regular menstruation. Leaf infusion is applied to wounds and a decoction of the pericarp may be administered to cure dysentery or simply used as a lotion.
- Dried rind is used as an astringent.
- The seed contains about 30% of valuable oil.
- DIARRHEA – Boil the required amount of seeds in two glasses of water for 15 minutes, or until only 1/2 of the liquid is left. Cool and strain. Divide the decoction into four plants. drink one part every 2 to 3 hours. Packed in sterilized bottles. Adult 4 teaspoons. 7-12 yrs. old 2 teaspoons, 2-6 yrs. old 1 teaspoon. For children 7-12 years, use half of the adult dose.
- The papaya is a soft-wooded, perennial plant that lives for about five years.Giant arborescent plant to 33 feet (10 m) tall, generally short-lived although may live up to 20 years. It normally grows as a single stem up to 4 m high. A crown of large palmate leaves at the top of the stem grows directly from the trunk.
- The plant starts to flower five to eight months from planting and the fruit is ready to harvest five to six months after that. The plants grow fastest in warmer climates with good growing conditions.
- The fruit form in the leaf axils and hang on the tree after the leaves fall.
- There are two distinct papaya plant types: dioecious and gynodioecious.
- Dioecious papayas have male and female flowers on different plants.
- Gynodioecious papayas, more commonly called bisexual lines, have trees that can be female or bisexual. Bisexual flowers have both male and female parts within the same flower and can be self-pollinated. Example -New Guinea Red.
- Papaya plants are susceptible to wind damage and will not establish or grow well in continuously windy areas.
- Papaya plants with a large amount of developing fruit are very susceptible to toppling due to high winds.
- Therefore plants should be planted in wind-protected areas of the landscape.
- In general, papaya trees should be planted in full sun for best growth and fruit production.
- Select a part of the landscape away from other trees, buildings and structures, and power lines. Select the warmest area of the landscape that does not flood (or remain wet) after typical summer rainfall.
- Cut and peel in half, scoop out the seeds, eat the meat from the shell with a spoon.
- The green papaya can be fermented, or cooked and used as a tenderizer for food preparation.
- Pineapple is one of the world’s most unique and exotic tropical fruits, yet it is possible to grow it in a temperate zone under controlled conditions; with the most difficult part of the process just getting it rooted.
- The pineapple is a member of the bromeliad family.
- As such it is related to Spanish moss and some interesting ornamental plants sold in many nurseries. These ornamentals are interesting in that they absorb water and nutrients from a water-tight reservoir formed where the leaves come together, or by interesting absorptive hairs which cover the Spanish moss and similar bromeliads, allowing them to draw water and nutrients from the fog and dust in the air.
- The pineapple, however, uses its roots like houseplants with which you are familiar and should be easy to grow if you treat it like a normal houseplant that needs bright light.
- How to grow a pineapple – indoors (great for a children’s activity). External Link
If shopping at the farmers market, the best quality and choice are ground ripened.
- Picked green they will not fully ripen.
- Juice, blend for salad dressings, smoothies, cakes, blend with avocado for dip and dessert, pineapple cut in half with other fruits and pile into shells for pineapple boats. skin and cores for tasty scrap vinegar.
- The passion fruit is a vigorous, climbing vine that clings by tendrils to almost any support.
- It can grow 15 to 20 ft. per year once established and must have strong support.
- It is generally short-lived (5 to 7 years).
- There are over 40 varieties of this luscious tropical fruit.
- The fruit salad finishing touch.
- Excess fruit – freeze in ice cube trays, delicious added to drinks.
- Cordial, jams, curd, ice-cream and the ever popular passionfruit butter.
- Mature trees may reach 20-30 feet in height and have an open and attractive branching structure. Little pruning is necessary and should only be done to improve structure or to remove broken or damaged limbs.
- Persimmon trees have an attractive growth form, making a nice landscape tree to the backyard orchard.
- Persimmon trees may take 7 years to begin bearing.
- Eat raw, use in fruit salads, add to green salads. A delight when dried for a tasty treat.
- Add to baked cakes, breads and cookies.
- Complementary flavours are walnuts and pecans, require less sweetener when substituting for pumpkin in baking bread.
- The outer is red and hairy appearance, the inner is a treasure to delight your palate.
- Though a close relative of the lychee and an equally desirable fruit, this member of the Sapindaceae is not nearly as well-known.
- The trees are prized in landscaping because they are evergreens.
- The exterior of the rambutan can be orange to deep red in colour.
- Each fruit is small, generally no more than 2 inches (5 cm) long.
- The interior can be white or light pink in colour.
- The rambutan produces two crops each year.
- Not all rambutan trees produce crops, because some trees are male.
- Some trees are hermaphrodites, producing both male and female blossoms, while others are exclusively female.
- The hermaphrodite tree is the most prized.
- The rambutan is a sweet fruit that most palates find appealing.
- Ten to 20 fruits will grow in clusters.
- Their exterior appearance looks a bit foreboding, as it is covered in spikes.
- The spikes, however, are soft and will cause no harm when handling the rambutan.
- Look lovely as part of an edible table décor.
- The delicious fruit looks similar to custard apple, eat with a spoon, close your eyes and taste buds will tell you that your eating lemon meringue!
- A vigorous growing tree suited to tropical to coastal subtropical climates.
- Beautiful fruit for the home garden.
- Creamy fleshed fruit and eaten fresh.
- Fruits have soft spine pattern, smooth dark brown seeds and sweet aromatic creamy flesh.
- Pick when fruit slightly soft.
- Best eaten straight from the tree.
- The star apple tree is erect, 25 to 100 ft (8-30 m) tall, with a short trunk to 3 ft (1 m) thick, and a dense, broad crown, brown-hairy branchlets, and white, gummy latex.
- The alternate, nearly evergreen, leaves are elliptic or oblong-elliptic, 2 to 6 in (5-15 cm) long, slightly leathery, rich green and glossy on the upper surface, coated with silky, golden-brown pubescence beneath when mature, though silvery when young.
- Small, inconspicuous flowers, clustered in the leaf axils, are greenish-yellow, yellow, or purplish-white with tubular, 5-lobed corolla and 5 or 6 sepals.
- The fruit, round, oblate, ellipsoid or somewhat pear-shaped, 2 to 4 in (5-10 cm) in diameter, may be red-purple, dark-purple, or pale-green. It feels in the hand like a rubber ball.
- The glossy, smooth, thin, leathery skin adheres tightly to the inner rind which, in purple fruits, is dark-purple and 1/4 to 1/2 in (6-12.5 mm) thick; in green fruits, white and 1/8 to 3/16 in.(3-5 mm) thick. Both have soft, white, milky, sweet pulp surrounding the 6 to 11 gelatinous, somewhat rubbery, seed cells in the centre which, when cut through transversely, are seen to radiate from the central core like an asterisk or many-pointed star, giving the fruit its common English name.
- The fruit may have up to 10 flattened, nearly oval, pointed, hard seeds, 3/4 in (2 cm.) long, nearly 1/2 in (1.25 cm) wide, and up to 1/4 in (6 mm) thick, but usually several of the cells are not occupied and the best fruits have as few as 3 seeds.
- They appear black at first, with a light area on the ventral side, but they dry to a light-brown.
- Delicious cut in half and eat with spoon, discard seeds.
- Relative of the custard apple, very refreshing.
- Fruits are heart-shaped with a rough green skin with soft fleshy spines.
- The flesh is very juicy and slightly acid, and produces a rich creamy juice.
- Can grow in most parts of the tropics and subtropics.
- Frost sensitive.
- Shallow root system makes them vulnerable to wind damage.
- Takes three years to fruit.
- Pick fruit when dark green fades to yellow green.
- Softens to ripe in 1-3 days.
- Makes superb purees, frozen fruit ice-cream, mixes well with other fruit.
- Dehydrate for a dried treat, add to cakes and desserts.
- Very sweet, looks like a small pear.
- Sapodillas are not strictly tropical and mature trees can withstand temperatures of 26° to 28° F for several hours.
- Young trees are more tender and can be killed by 30° F.
- The sapodilla seems equally at home in humid and relatively dry environments.
- The sapodilla is a fairly slow-growing, long-lived tree, upright and elegant, distinctly pyramidal when young; to 60 ft (18 m) high in the open but reaching 100 ft (30 m) when crowded in a forest.
- It is strong and wind-resistant, rich in white, gummy latex.
- Its leaves are highly ornamental, evergreen, glossy, alternate, spirally clustered at the tips of the forked twigs; elliptic, pointed at both ends, firm, 3 to 4 1/2 in (7.5-11.25 cm) long and 1 to 1 1/2 in (2.5-4 cm) .
- Though smooth-skinned it is coated with a sandy brown scurf until fully ripe.
- The flesh varies from yellow to shades of brown and sometimes reddish-brown, and may be smooth or of a granular texture.
- The flavour is sweet and pleasant, ranging from a pear flavour to caramel or crunchy brown sugar. Fruits can be seedless, but usually have from 3 to 12 hard, black, shiny, flattened seeds about 3/4 inch long in the centre of the fruit.
- The black sapote is not, as might be assumed, allied to either the sapote (Pouteria sapota H.E. Moore & Stearn) or the white sapote (Casimiroa edulis Llave & Lex.).
- Instead, it is closely related to the persimmon in the family Ebenaceae.
- For many years it has been widely misidentified as Diospyros ebenaster Retz., a name confusingly applied also to a strictly wild species of the West Indies now distinguished as D. revoluta Poir.
- The presently accepted binomial for the black sapote is D. digyna Jacq. (syn. D. obtusifolia Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.).
- The tree is handsome, broad-topped, slow-growing, to 80 ft (25 m) in height, with furrowed trunk to 30 in (75 cm) in diameter, and black bark.
- The evergreen, alternate leaves, elliptic-oblong to oblong-lanceolate, tapered at both ends or rounded at the base and bluntly acute at the apex, are leathery, glossy, 4 to 12 in (10-30 cm) long.
- The flowers, borne singly or in groups of 3 to 7 in the leaf axils, are tubular, lobed, white, 3/8 to 5/8 in (1-1.6 cm) wide, with persistent green calyx.
- Some have both male and female organs, large calyx lobes and are faintly fragrant; others are solely male and have a pronounced gardenia-like scent and a few black specks in the throat of the corolla. The fruit is bright-green and shiny at first; oblate or nearly round; 2 to 5 in (5-12.5 cm) wide; with a prominent, 4-lobed, undulate calyx, 1 1/2 to 2 in (4-5 cm) across, clasping the base.
- On ripening, the smooth, thin skin becomes olive-green and then rather muddy-green.
- Within is a mass of glossy, brown to very dark-brown, almost black, somewhat jelly-like pulp, soft, sweet and mild in flavour.
- In the centre, there may be 1 to 10 flat, smooth, brown seeds, 3/4 to 1 in (2-2.5 cm) long, but the chocolate fruits are often seedless.
- The ascorbic acid content is said to be about twice that of the average orange. Delightful cut in half and eat with a spoon.
- Nature’s chocolate mousse.
- Add to,kefir or yogurt for a chocolate dessert and top with grated fresh coconut or freeze and put through champion juicer for chocolate ice-cream.
- Add to smoothies, make a dip with strawberries to dip for chocolate covered natural strawberries. Add to cakes in place of banana.
- “Tree tomato” great sliced for a finishing touch in fruit salad.
- An erect, branching, shrubby, fast growing evergreen, reaching a height of 1-5 m.
- It has large, heart-shaped, hairy leaves, 15 – 20 cm long.
- The flowers are small, pale pink and fragrant.
- The fruit are egg-shaped, about 5 cm long and can be red or yellow in colour.
- Tamarillos need a rich, moist, well-drained soil.
- It will not tolerate waterlogging or drought and the roots are very shallow, so keep it well mulched.
- Fruit can be eaten raw, in salads or fruit salads, cooked as a fruit sauce or made into jam.
Food for Love – Lynnie Stein
General Gardening and Home Fruit Links
- Established more than thirty years ago, ONO Organic Farms is a 30-acre, certified organic, family-owned and operated farm located on the southern slopes of Haleakala (“House of the Sun”) volcano on the eastern edge of the legendary Hawaiian Island of Maui.
- Four generations of the Boerner family have been organic farmers in this lush jungle environment for sixty years.
- Mangos, Bananas, Avocados, in the Arizona desert?
- Can it be done?
- Sure it can and is being done all over town.
- With a little planning and consideration to sun, wind, cold and watering you can grow numerous types of tropical and sub-tropical fruit plants and trees.
- Arizona’s great year round climate lends itself to a wonderful array of possibilities, and in no time at all you too can be growing and eating home grown Mangos and Bananas from your own back yard.
Eat Your Landscaping — Rare Fruits Council of Australia