Star Fruit

Star fruit, scientifically known as Averrhoa carambola, or simply carambola, is a luscious tropical fruit originating from India and Southeast Asia, where it thrives in warm, humid conditions and is extensively cultivated. It is distinctive yellow, star-shaped appearance characterizes this fruit, which flourishes on trees across India, Asia, South America, Australia, and in select regions of the United States.

Despite its lesser-known status in the U.S., where it is often used decoratively in cocktails or salads due to its visually appealing shape, star fruit enjoys widespread popularity worldwide, being utilized in both raw and cooked culinary applications. Its taste profile provides a delightful blend of slight sweetness and tanginess, reminiscent of a ripe pear, green grape, and orange. With juicy, firm flesh akin to that of a grape, star fruit stands out as a unique and versatile addition to global cuisine.

Guidelines for Selecting Star Fruit:

Opt for firm carambolas showcasing bright yellow or yellow-green skin; slight browning on the edges is acceptable. Avoid predominantly green fruits, as they are underripe. Overripe carambolas display a dark yellow hue with brown spots throughout.

Guidelines for Selecting Star Fruit

The sustainability of star fruit

Growing star fruit in the U.S., particularly in regions cooler and drier than its native habitat, presents challenges. The plant demands nutrient-rich soil and is susceptible to cooler temperatures and wind. Despite these obstacles, Florida has fostered a significant commercial star fruit industry since the 1970s, offering an alternative to citrus and avocado crops. Presently, researchers are exploring the potential of cover crops to enhance fruit growth while reducing fertilizer usage, promoting soil biodiversity and fertility.

Chemical Pest Control

Star fruit plants are vulnerable to certain insect pests like aphids and mites. While some commercial producers resort to pesticides for control, growers employing biological methods, such as introducing predatory wasps, have achieved positive results. To minimize the risk of exposure to harmful chemicals, opt for organic star fruit whenever available.

Water

Given that star fruits originate from subtropical and tropical regions, they have a high demand for water.

Geography

Commercial cultivation of carambola spans across Southeast Asia, Australia, and South America. In the Southern United States, particularly Florida, which accounts for roughly 90 percent of U.S. production, and in Hawai’i, it is also grown commercially.

Storage Instructions

When you purchase a green carambola, allow it to sit at room temperature, shielded from sunlight, for several days until it transforms into a yellow hue. If the star fruit displays brown ridges, refrigerate it for a maximum of four days to prevent excessive ripening. Overripe fruit is characterized by widespread brown spots and may possess a fermented taste.

Seasonality

In South Florida, star fruits are typically harvested in two distinct periods: from August to September and from December to February. Depending on the planting schedule of growers, local availability of the fruit is often consistent throughout the year.

Preserving Star Fruit

Preserving Star Fruit

Fresh carambola has a short shelf life of just a few days. To extend its freshness, consider various preservation methods. Puree and freeze the fruit, ensuring it remains viable for up to four months. Alternatively, transform it into delectable chips through dehydration, pickle it for a tangy twist, or utilize it in homemade jams or marmalades.

Cooking with Star Fruit

Star fruit is incredibly versatile, lending itself to a multitude of culinary applications, whether sweet or savory, raw or cooked. It’s a beloved ingredient in fruit salads, compotes, smoothies, beverages, and cocktails. Its uses extend to baking, such as in the delightful star fruit upside-down cake, and it adds a unique twist to savory dishes, pairing beautifully with chicken, shrimp, and other main courses.

Cooking with Star Fruit

Originating from Asia, this fruit features prominently in various regional cuisines, enhancing dishes like Indian curries, the Goan chutney Karmalache Goad Mel, Vietnamese sour soup, and many more.

Indulging in Star Fruit

Consuming star fruit is a straightforward process as the entire fruit, including its waxy skin, is edible, allowing for effortless raw consumption. To prepare the fruit, place it on a cutting board and carefully slice along each of the five ridges, discarding the brown outer edge. Holding the star fruit horizontally, slice it crosswise into your preferred thickness, resulting in star-shaped pieces. Use the knife tip to remove any seeds. While the fruit can be further sliced into smaller pieces, retaining its iconic shape adds to the enjoyment of this tropical delicacy.

Health Benefits

Star fruit is a low-calorie food packed with fiber and rich in Vitamins A and C. However, it is important to be aware that the fruit also contains oxalic acid and caramboxin, which may pose risks for individuals with kidney issues or those on blood pressure medication. Despite this, for most people, star fruit remains a safe and nutritious choice.

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10 Pineapple Facts Most People Don’t Know

Pineapple, with its tantalizing taste and remarkable versatility, stands as a culinary delight appreciated in various forms: from standalone enjoyment to enhancing both savory dishes and delectable desserts. Recognized by its iconic pine cone shape, resilient exterior, and the unique blend of sweet and tangy flavors, this fruit has charmed palates worldwide.

The English term “pineapple” traces back to 1398, originally referring to the reproductive organs of conifer trees. However, its name finds its roots in the Tupi language of South America, where “ananas” signified “excellent fruit.” Despite its long history spanning over 600 years, this tropical gem continues to hold an aura of intrigue. Delve into these 10 captivating pineapple facts!

1. Its origin might surprise you.

While Hawaii is often associated with pineapple, its status as a major production center was relatively brief during the 20th century. According to Smithsonian, the pineapple’s origins trace back to the area where Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil intersect. Although American companies boosted pineapple cultivation in Hawaii from approximately 1900 to 1960, introducing the fruit to the U.S. market, today only a fraction, just over 10%, of the pineapples consumed in the U.S. are grown in Hawaii. Improved transportation and refrigeration have facilitated sourcing from countries such as Costa Rica, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Brazil, which now dominate pineapple production.

2. It’s gradually gaining popularity as one of America’s preferred fruits.

Despite not attaining the widespread appeal and presence of bananas and apples, pineapples are steadily capturing America’s interest. McKeany-Flavell, a commodity-tracking firm, reports that the average American consumes approximately 8 pounds of fresh pineapple annually, along with 2 pounds of canned pineapple. This figure excludes pineapple juice, dried pineapple, and other pineapple-containing products like certain baked goods.

3. It tends to favor the long-term approach.

The journey from seed to ripe pineapple is a patient one, spanning up to three years for a pineapple plant to reach full maturity and begin fruiting. Once the plant bears fruit, it takes an extra year for each individual pineapple to ripen and become edible. While pineapple plants typically yield only one fruit at a time, they boast an extensive lifespan, with some living up to 50 years and producing as many as 50 pineapples during their lifetime.

4. It’s ready to be harvested.

In contrast to fruits like tomatoes or strawberries, whose color shifts as they ripen, the hue of a pineapple’s skin holds no significance regarding its ripeness once sliced open. According to pineapple expert Dole, you can determine the ripeness of a pineapple by examining its individual spikes. “The flatter the skin, the riper the fruit,” advises the company.

5.  It’s just what the doctor ordered

For centuries, the tropical fruit has been employed to alleviate digestive issues and various other ailments. Rich in a naturally occurring enzyme known as bromelain, it is utilized in modern times to address inflammation stemming from burns, wounds, and other injuries.

6. It’s not a good match with dairy.

Scientific American conducted an experiment involving pineapples and milk. The study revealed that the proteolytic enzyme in bromelain can degrade proteins such as casein found in dairy products, resulting in a bitter taste. The longer the pineapple and dairy are in contact, the more pronounced the bitterness becomes. In essence, it’s not ideal if you’re planning to combine fresh pineapple with cream cheese, whipped cream, or non-dairy desserts. If you do choose to mix pineapple with dairy, it’s advisable to consume the dish promptly to minimize the risk of bitter flavors emerging.

7. It’s an excellent choice for indoor gardening.

Absolutely! According to the gardening experts at HGTV, transforming a pineapple into a houseplant is a straightforward process. Start by carefully removing the spiky green crown in one smooth motion, akin to twisting a wet towel. Once detached, allow the crown to dry out and “cure” for several days; avoid immediately submerging it in water, as the objective is not to initiate root growth right away. Then, trim off the bottom few leaves to expose the stem. Prepare a spacious pot with high-quality soil, create a small hole in the center, and plant the pineapple top. That’s all there is to it! Position the pot in a well-lit area, water the top regularly, and in approximately two months, your new pineapple plant should successfully take root and flourish into a thriving addition to your home.

8. It was formerly regarded as a symbol of luxury and affluence.

Christopher Columbus is credited with introducing pineapples from Guadeloupe to Europe during his voyages in the 1490s. This exotic fruit quickly captured the attention of Spain’s monarchs, becoming a coveted delicacy. By the 17th century, pineapples became more accessible, but they remained a luxury item reserved for the elite, including figures such as Louis XV, Catherine the Great, and Charles II. As late as the 1700s, imported pineapples from the Caribbean commanded astonishing prices, occasionally reaching the equivalent of $8,000 in today’s currency.

9. It also symbolizes hospitality.

Due to their remarkable value, pineapples were frequently employed as the focal point for grand feasts and festivities as more individuals gained the means to acquire them. For those unable to afford their own, pineapples could even be rented for special occasions. In the early 1900s, the gesture of bringing pineapples to the homes of loved ones as a gesture of affection and hospitality became popular. This practice ultimately contributed to pineapples emerging as a ubiquitous motif in home décor, depicted in wood carvings, adorning bowls and dishes, and prominently featured in artwork—a tradition that endures to this day.

10. It’s a highly debated pizza topping.

While pineapple finds favor as a cocktail ingredient, grilled delicacy, salad addition, or component of Chinese cuisine, its most celebrated—and divisive—role is arguably on Hawaiian-style pizza. Surprisingly, this concept didn’t originate on any Pacific island; rather, it emerged in the quaint Canadian town of Chatham, Ontario. According to BBC News, Greek-born pizzeria owner Sam Panopoulos decided to experiment with pineapple as a pizza topping in 1962 out of sheer curiosity. The unconventional creation swiftly gained popularity, spreading from Canada to the United States and beyond, solidifying pineapple (alongside anchovies) as one of the most contentious toppings for America’s beloved dish.

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16 Fruit Fascinations Unveiled

1. Not every orange is orange.

In subtropical regions such as Brazil, where the highest volume of oranges is cultivated globally, temperatures never plummet enough to degrade the chlorophyll in the fruit’s peel. Consequently, even when fully ripe, oranges may retain a green or yellow hue. However, to align with the expectations of American consumers, imported oranges undergo treatment with ethylene gas to eliminate chlorophyll and attain the desired orange color.

As Florida oranges are cultivated farther south compared to California oranges, they typically exhibit a yellower hue due to the milder temperatures that prevent chlorophyll breakdown in their peel.

2. The majority of commercially available fruits are genetic duplicates.

When you observe the uniformity of apples, oranges, and peaches neatly arranged in supermarket displays, the fact that most fruits are clones doesn’t seem surprising. Producers prefer this method to maintain the precise characteristics of desired varieties, known as cultivars (such as Fuji apples or Bosc pears). This approach avoids the unpredictable genetic variations that arise from traditional sexual reproduction methods involving pollination, seed planting, and the uncertainty of outcomes.

3. The armies of clone trees are cultivated through grafting

techniques.

When you consume a Macintosh apple and attempt to grow a tree from its seed, the resulting apples would bear little resemblance in appearance or taste to the original fruit. To preserve the desired traits, growers opt for a different method: grafting. Instead of planting seeds, they attach a cutting from the desired tree onto an existing branch or young tree (referred to as the “rootstock”), ensuring that the grafted portion yields apples identical to those of the parent tree. In the photograph, you can discern various types of apples on different branches, all grafted onto a single rootstock tree.

In the case of seedless fruits, such as certain citrus varieties, the reliance on grafting is even more pronounced. Because these trees don’t produce seeds (originally a fortuitous genetic anomaly noticed and propagated for its convenience), they rely entirely on human intervention for reproduction through cloning.

4. Japanese Yubari cantaloupes hold the title of the priciest fruit globally, with a pair of melons fetching a staggering $23,500 at auction.

In Japan, individuals willingly shell out hefty sums for extravagant fruit such as adorned apples and pampered cantaloupes, often reserved for gifting occasions. While demand has experienced a decline in recent times, the figures remain remarkably high. Explore one of these upscale fruit boutiques for a firsthand glimpse into this lavish trend.

5. Cherry farmers hire helicopter pilots to air-dry their trees after it rains so that the cherries don’t split open.

During the summer months, pilots receive handsome compensation, often amounting to hundreds of dollars per day, to remain on stand-by in case of rainfall requiring emergency blow-drying for delicate and valuable fruit trees. While the notion may seem absurd, it’s deemed essential by farmers who cultivate these sensitive crops. However, the job carries inherent risks, with pilots frequently sustaining injuries from crashes in orchards.

6. The apple you’re enjoying could be up to a year old.

Apples are available for purchase in grocery stores and farmers markets throughout the year, despite their harvesting season typically spanning only a few months in the fall, at least in the U.S. This phenomenon is made possible by advancements in cold storage technology. So, it’s quite possible, if not probable, that the crisp and juicy apple you’re enjoying in August 2013 was actually harvested back in October 2012.

7. Bananas are artificially ripened to one of seven predetermined “stages” of ripeness after being transported.

Bananas are typically shipped while still green due to their delicate and perishable nature. To ensure optimal ripeness upon reaching the market, distribution facilities employ highly precise storage technology to induce ripening. According to a tour of the Banana Distributors of New York in the Bronx, one of only three facilities handling about 2 million bananas weekly for all of New York City’s stores and vendors, the bananas are categorized into various shades of ripeness.

The most sought-after shades fall between 2.5 and 3.5, although preferences vary depending on the retailer’s size and target demographic. For instance, the grocery chain Fairway, which sources its bananas from Banana Distributors of New York, prefers slightly greener bananas as they anticipate holding them for a couple of days. In contrast, smaller bodegas that rotate their stock daily tend to prefer riper bananas. Rosenblatt, from the Banana Distributors, also notes that street vendors and shops catering primarily to Latin American clientele prefer bananas that are fully yellow.

8. The bananas we are familiar with are facing a significant threat of extinction due to disease.

Despite the existence of over 1,000 banana varieties worldwide, nearly every imported banana in the commercial market belongs to a single type known as the Cavendish. This dominance traces back to the 1960s when the Cavendish, resistant to a fungal disease called Panama Race One, emerged as the replacement for the previously popular Gros Michel variety. However, indications strongly suggest that the Cavendish itself faces imminent extinction within the next decade. Here’s why:

  1. Cavendish bananas are sterile and seedless, reproducing asexually through suckers from the “mother” plant, resulting in genetic uniformity across all plants.
  2. This lack of genetic diversity renders Cavendish bananas highly susceptible to Tropical Race Four, a new and more devastating fungal disease.
  3. Tropical Race Four has already decimated Cavendish plantations in Asia and Australia. Many growers anticipate its inevitable spread to Latin America, posing a severe threat to the plantations supplying bananas to North American consumers.

9. Donut peaches are a naturally occurring mutation of peach variety, rather than a fruit engineered by humans.

Unfortunately, donut peaches are not a delightful fusion of a donut and a peach. However, they are undeniably delicious, boasting a firmer texture and sweeter, more fragrant flavor compared to conventional spherical peaches. Originating from China, these little flattened peaches have garnered enthusiastic admirers from around the globe in recent years.

10. Raisin farmers in the U.S. are obligated to set aside a portion of their harvest for a “national raisin reserve” if their production surpasses demand, restricting their ability to sell the entire yield.

Indeed, the Raisin Administrative Committee is embroiled in a legal battle against farmer Marvin Horne, who defied regulations by refusing to contribute to the raisin reserve and opting to sell his entire raisin crop instead.

While this may seem unusual, it’s not uncommon for fruit growers to adhere to guidelines established by associations aimed at stabilizing market conditions and safeguarding their financial well-being. However, unlike fresh, perishable fruits, raisins lend themselves naturally to reservation. Nonetheless, the RAC is determined to enforce compliance and bring this renegade raisin farmer into compliance.

11. Grapefruit has the potential to induce hazardous interactions with certain prescription medications.

As reported by the New York Times last year, Dr. Bailey stated that for 43 out of the 85 drugs listed, consuming them with grapefruit can pose life-threatening risks. Many of these drugs are associated with an increased risk of abnormal heart rhythm, known as torsade de pointes, which can result in fatalities.

Under typical circumstances, these drugs are metabolized in the gastrointestinal tract, with relatively minimal absorption due to the deactivation of an enzyme called CYP3A4. However, grapefruit contains natural chemicals known as furanocoumarins, which inhibit this enzyme. Consequently, without its normal function, the gut absorbs significantly more of the drug, leading to a dramatic rise in blood levels.

12. Cranberries are not typically grown underwater, despite common assumptions.

Contrary to what Ocean Spray commercials might suggest, cranberry bogs are only flooded with water during harvest season. Cranberries possess air pockets that enable them to float, facilitating mass harvesting.

However, this flooding technique is reserved for berries intended for juice, jelly, Craisins, and similar products. Fresh whole cranberries, typically purchased in bags for Thanksgiving, undergo a different harvesting process known as “dry-harvesting,” where picking machines are used to comb the berries out.

13. Cranberries are indeed capable of bouncing.

In 1880, cranberry innovator John “Peg Leg” Webb stumbled upon this peculiar characteristic. He discovered that cranberries, thanks to their air pockets, exhibit a bouncing ability when he accidentally dropped a bunch down a flight of stairs. To this day, growers utilize a tool called the “bounce board separator” to assess the quality of cranberries based on their bounce. The higher the bounce, the superior the berry, as determined by this method.

14. The leaves of the rhubarb plant are highly toxic.

The leaves of the rhubarb plant contain dangerous levels of oxalic acid, a chemical compound also found in bleach, metal cleaners, and anti-rust products, which can cause kidney damage and even prove fatal. However, the stalks of the plant are completely safe for consumption, which is fortunate because they are delicious, especially in pies.

15. A single pomegranate can contain over 1,000 seeds.

Contrary to the myth based on the Torah, not every pomegranate contains 613 seeds.

16. From a botanical perspective, a strawberry does not qualify as a berry or a fruit.

I understand it’s disappointing, but from a botanical perspective, it’s accurate. Berries, as defined, contain their seeds internally, unlike strawberries. The plant forms a fleshy “false fruit,” also known as a pseudocarp, from its flower, and what we typically perceive as the seeds on the outside are actually the “true” fruits. However, regardless of the technicalities, there’s no denying their deliciousness.

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“Exploring the World of Fruits: Nature’s Nutrient-Rich Delights”

Fruits, the ripened ovaries of flowering plants housing seeds for reproduction, encompass a wide range of types. While we typically associate fruits with sweet varieties like berries, citrus, and tropical fruits, they also include tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. Fruits can be enjoyed fresh, cooked, dried, candied, or juiced, offering diverse culinary possibilities.

The Rhythm of Nature: Seasons and Their Bounty

Fruits reach their peak when enjoyed in season, typically harvested before fully ripe to develop their flavors. While citrus, berries, grapes, cherries, melons, pineapples, and plums don’t significantly enhance in taste post-harvest, others like apricots, avocados, bananas, mangos, pears, peaches, and tomatoes continue to mature, emitting ethylene gases that aid in ripening. To expedite this process, store them in a warm, paper-lined space, avoiding plastic which may impede gas concentration.

Acquiring and Preserving Fruits:

Fresh Fruit Handling Guidelines:

  1. Consume fresh fruit within three days of purchase.
  2. Refrigerate berries at 38-42°F/ 3°-6°C, while allowing unripe melons and avocados to ripen at room temperature. Once ripe, refrigerate for up to three additional days.
  3. Avoid refrigerating bananas to prevent black spots and preserve sweetness.
  4. Tropical fruits can be stored at slightly higher refrigerated temperatures (50°F/10°C).

Fruit Processing Guidelines:

Bananas, apples, pears, and avocados are prone to enzymatic browning, a process that can be reduced through acidulation (using lemon juice or vinegar) or cooking.

Preparing Fruits for Cooking:

Utilizing Fruits in Culinary Applications:

Fruits serve as key ingredients in sauces, jams, jellies, and compotes, and can also be roasted, grilled, broiled, or poached to create savory side dishes or desserts. Sugar is commonly incorporated into fruits cooked in liquid to enhance firmness and preserve their shape. Additionally, fruits can be transformed into chips by immersing them in a simple syrup and baking at a low temperature, or they can be dehydrated without added sugar.

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Exploring the Health Perks of Fruits: Enjoyable Trivia to Savor

Fruits boast a plethora of health advantages, being naturally low in fat, calories, and sodium. They serve as nutritious snacks for satisfying those munchies.

Nutritious Fruits for Snacking

Although the popular saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” may simplify things, fruits undeniably offer numerous health benefits. They serve as wholesome snacks, naturally low in fat, calories, and sodium. Furthermore, plenty of fruits are high in fiber, promoting feelings of fullness and helping prevent overeating.

Nutritious Fruits for Snacking

Fruits are a treasure trove of nutrients, evident in their vibrant hues! Their colors, aromas, and flavors stem from phytochemicals, plant-based compounds linked to various health perks. These include antioxidants, like carotenoids found in orange fruits, and anthocyanins abundant in red, blue, and purple fruits and veggies.

To ward off the doctor, aim for two daily servings of fruits.

Advantages of Incorporating Fruits into Your Diet

Here are fascinating fruit facts to spice up your next dinner chat with friends and family.

Nutritious fruits worth adding to your diet.

Apples

Apples are not just rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants; they also serve as a natural mouth cleanser, freshening your breath with every crunch. Their flavor and scent largely originate from the fragrance cells within the skin, making it advisable to keep the skin on for optimal taste and additional fiber.

Bananas

Bananas boast one of the highest potassium levels among fruits. With approximately 422mg of potassium in a medium-sized banana, it contributes around 10% of an average adult’s daily requirement. Potassium plays a vital role in muscle function. To accelerate ripening, place a banana in a paper bag. This method exploits ethylene gas produced by bananas and other fruits like apples, which stimulates ripening. Contrary to common belief, refrigerating bananas doesn’t expedite spoilage. Although the outer skin may darken, the fruit inside remains relatively unaffected and can stay fresh for an extra week compared to leaving it at room temperature.

Berries 

Among all the fruits, berries contain the highest amount of antioxidants. The antioxidant properties of these fruit help to fight off diseases and potentially prevent cell deterioration. Ranked in order of antioxidant content are blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.

Durians 

For those who adore durian, there’s good news: this polarizing fruit offers numerous health benefits. Packed with essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B-1 (thiamin) and B-6 (pyridoxine), it provides 31% and 24% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for adults, respectively. Durian is also a notable source of dietary fiber, with just five seeds meeting 16% of our daily fiber needs. Surprisingly, despite its rich flavor, durians contain no cholesterol, as cholesterol is exclusive to animal products. However, owing to their high sugar content, they are calorie-dense, with five seeds totaling around 250 kcal, so it’s advisable to enjoy them in moderation (no more than four seeds per serving).

Recommended daily portion of fruit.

You should aim to consume two servings of fruit per day. Each serving typically consists of:

  • One small apple, orange, pear, or mango (about 130 grams)
  • One wedge of papaya, pineapple, or watermelon (about 130 grams)
  • Four small seeds of durian or jackfruit (about 80 grams)
  • Approximately 10 grapes or longans (about 50 grams)
  • One medium-sized banana
  • One cup of dried fruit (about 40 grams)

Feel free to pick some nutritious fruits for a tasty and healthy snack option.

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FASCINATING APPLE FACTOIDS TO EXPLORE

Apples, renowned for their delectable taste and incredible versatility, rank among the world’s most popular fruits. Whether enjoyed solo as a nutritious snack or infused into delightful recipes showcased in this piece, their culinary potential knows no bounds. Additionally, the vast spectrum of apple varieties offers a delightful array of flavors, hues, and sizes to explore. Embark on a journey to uncover 10 captivating facts about this remarkable fruit.

Apples account for 50% of the global production of deciduous fruit trees.

Deciduous trees, which drop their fruit or leaves upon maturity, include apple trees, comprising half of all deciduous fruit tree production worldwide. Major producers of these trees include China, the United States, Poland, Italy, and Turkey.

The United States cultivates upwards of 2,500 apple varieties.

While the crab apple stands as the sole native variety to North America, the United States boasts the cultivation of thousands of apple types. Among the nation’s favored varieties are Red Delicious, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, McIntosh, Rome, Granny Smith, and Gala.

Apples are rich in malic acid.

Malic acid is abundant in apple juice, apple flesh, and apple cider vinegar. This valuable compound is known for its therapeutic properties, which can aid in managing conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and gallstones.

The origin of apple pie is not American.

While apple pie is commonly linked with American culture, its roots trace back to Europe. The earliest known recipe for apple pie originated in England centuries ago. Furthermore, most apple varieties cultivated in North America are not indigenous to the continent.

Apples boast a high fiber content.

A single average-sized apple offers nearly double the fiber found in one serving of a fiber supplement. Besides, it’s a far more enjoyable experience. Who needs supplements when you can indulge in the deliciousness of an apple?

A bushel of apples typically weighs around 42 pounds.

Ever pondered the weight of a bushel of apples? It’s roughly 42 pounds. With that abundance, you could whip up approximately 21 pies, 3 gallons of cider, and 20 quarts of applesauce.

Apples consist of approximately 25% air.

Apples float in water due to their remarkable composition: about 25% of their volume is comprised of air. This lower density compared to water makes them ideal for the classic game of apple bobbing.

Consuming apples might lower the risk of developing cancer.

Some studies have shown that consuming apples regularly may reduce your risk of cancer. This healthy fruit contains pectin, quercetin, procyanidins, and Vitamin C, which are all beneficial in the prevention of disease and cancer.

It takes several years for apple trees to bear fruit.

Depending on the planting method employed, it can take anywhere from four to ten years for a full-sized apple tree to reach peak production. Apple tree maturation is a gradual process influenced by various factors, including sunlight exposure and fertilizer type. Adequately nourished trees receiving ample sunlight and water tend to grow more rapidly compared to those lacking essential resources.

It’s no surprise that apples rank among the world’s favorite fruits! They’re not just nutritious and delicious but also incredibly convenient to enjoy. At Parlee Farms, we’re proud to offer more than 20 apple varieties ripe for picking during September and October. With such a diverse selection, it’s a delightful adventure to taste as many varieties as you can!

Apples
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11 Unusual Facts About Fruit

1. Kiwi

kiwi

The kiwi fruit didn’t originate from New Zealand or Australia. It was initially cultivated in China and was referred to as the Chinese gooseberry until 1959.

2. Atlantic Giant pumpkin

Atlantic Giant pumpkin

Jackfruit is often mistaken for the world’s largest fruit due to its massive size and formidable appearance, capable of causing harm when dropped from trees. Indeed, it holds the title of the largest tree fruit globally. However, the record for the largest fruit ever documented goes to an Atlantic Giant pumpkin, weighing over a ton. (Though, in my opinion, the classification of a pumpkin as a fruit is open to debate.)

3. Almonds

Perhaps almonds could be considered fruits! They belong to the prunus genus of trees and shrubs, which also encompasses peaches, plums, cherries, and apricots. (Almonds share the closest relation with peaches, which might explain why they complement each other so well in flavor.)

4. Grapefruit

If you’ve ever been cautioned about consuming grapefruit while on specific medications, it’s wise to heed the advice. Grapefruit has the ability to inhibit certain enzymes that play a role in medication metabolism. Consequently, this can lead to elevated levels of the medication in your bloodstream, potentially resulting in adverse side effect

5. Why does one rotten apple ruin the rest?

What causes one rotten apple to spoil the whole bunch? When apples (and certain other fruits) begin to decay, they emit a gas known as ethylene. This gas can spread to nearby fruits and initiate the degradation process.

6. Exploring Potassium-Rich Fruits Beyond Bananas

Although bananas are often praised for their potassium content, several other fruits actually contain higher levels of this essential nutrient. Watermelon, dried apricots, and avocados surpass bananas in potassium content.

7. Sumo oranges

Have you tasted Sumo oranges yet? If not, head over to a Whole Foods and indulge in these incredibly flavorful mandarin oranges! However, be prepared for the price tag; their higher cost is attributed to their lengthy four-year growth cycle and exclusive shipping from a single facility in California within the U.S.

8. Passionfruit

Passionfruit boasts the highest fiber content among all fruits, providing 98% of your daily value in just one cup.

9. Strawberries

Speaking of strawberries, did you know that they contain more vitamin C per ounce than oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes?

10. The Anatomy of Strawberries: A Closer Look at Achenes and Seeds

What we commonly perceive as seeds on the surface of strawberries are actually known as achenes, with the true seeds residing inside them.

11. The Tomato Debate: Is it a Fruit or a Vegetable?

My favorite curious fact about produce—or is it about a vegetable? In the 1893 legal case Nix vs. Hedden, the Supreme Court declared tomatoes to be vegetables, at least for taxation purposes. So, there you have it, a resolution for the age-old debate, should you ever require one.

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Harvesting Health: The Vital Role of Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet

A basket brimming with a variety of fruits and vegetables such as grapes, apples, asparagus, onions, lettuce, carrots, melon, bananas, and corn is not just visually appealing but is also crucial for maintaining a balanced diet. It’s important to consume a wide range of these foods, as no single fruit or vegetable can provide all the necessary nutrients for optimal health.

  variety of fruits and vegetables

A diet abundant in vegetables and fruits can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent certain cancers, and decrease the risk of eye and digestive issues. It can also positively impact blood sugar levels, helping to control appetite. Consuming non-starchy vegetables and fruits like apples, pears, and leafy greens may even aid in weight loss due to their low glycemic loads, which prevent blood sugar spikes that can lead to increased hunger.

There are at least nine different families of fruits and vegetables, each offering potentially hundreds of beneficial plant compounds. To ensure your body gets a wide array of nutrients, it’s essential to eat various types and colors of produce. This not only provides a diversity of beneficial plant chemicals but also makes your meals more visually appealing.

Ways to Increase Your Daily Intake of Vegetables and Fruits

Here are some suggestions for increasing your daily intake of vegetables and fruits:

  1. Keep fruits visible: Store washed whole fruits or chopped colorful fruits in a visible location, such as a bowl on the kitchen counter or in the fridge, to encourage easy snacking.
  2. Explore variety: Experiment with different types of produce by regularly exploring the produce aisle. Aim to incorporate a diverse range of colors and types into your meals to ensure a balanced diet.
  3. Diversify your veggies: Instead of sticking to the same vegetables, try incorporating a variety of options into your meals. Choose vegetables that offer different nutrients and flavors to keep your meals interesting.
  4. Make it a meal: Incorporate vegetables and fruits into your meals by trying out new recipes. Whether it’s adding vegetables to salads, soups, or stir-fries, there are countless delicious ways to boost your intake.

“Nutrition and Wellness: The Impact of Vegetables and Fruits on Health”

Reducing Cardiovascular Risk: The Impact of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

Mounting evidence suggests that a diet abundant in fruits and vegetables can significantly diminish the likelihood of heart disease and stroke.

Reducing Cardiovascular Risk: The Impact of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

A comprehensive meta-analysis encompassing cohort studies with 469,551 participants revealed that increasing fruit and vegetable intake is correlated with a diminished risk of cardiovascular mortality. On average, each additional serving per day of fruits and vegetables equated to a 4% decrease in cardiovascular disease risk .

The most extensive and protracted study to date, conducted within the framework of the Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, tracked the health and dietary habits of nearly 110,000 individuals over 14 years. The study found a clear inverse relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Those consuming 8 or more servings daily were 30% less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke compared to those consuming less than 1.5 servings per day .

Nutrition and Wellness - fruits and vegetables

While all fruits and vegetables likely contribute to this protective effect, certain varieties exhibit particularly strong associations with reduced cardiovascular risk. Green leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens, as well as cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale, were notably linked to decreased cardiovascular disease risk. Similarly, citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits (along with their juices) also played a significant role .

Combining data from the Harvard studies with other extensive research in the United States and Europe further reinforces the protective effects of fruit and vegetable consumption. Individuals consuming over 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily exhibited approximately a 20% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke compared to those consuming less than 3 servings per day.

Addressing Hypertension: Dietary Interventions for Blood Pressure Control

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study investigated the impact of a diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products while restricting saturated and total fat intake on blood pressure. Results revealed that individuals with high blood pressure who adhered to this regimen experienced a notable reduction in systolic blood pressure (the upper number) by approximately 11 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by nearly 6 mm Hg—comparable to the effects of medication.

 Dietary Interventions for Blood Pressure Control

Further supporting evidence emerged from the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial for Heart Health (OmniHeart), a randomized trial that demonstrated enhanced blood pressure reduction when carbohydrates were partially substituted with healthy unsaturated fats or protein within a fruit and vegetable-rich diet .

In 2014, a meta-analysis encompassing clinical trials and observational studies affirmed the association between vegetarian diets and lower blood pressure.

Cancer and Diet: Exploring the Role of Fruits and Vegetables

Early studies hinted at a potential correlation between fruit and vegetable consumption and cancer prevention. Unlike case-control studies, which rely on retrospective data, cohort studies tracking large groups of initially healthy individuals over time offer more dependable insights. However, data from these cohort studies have been inconsistent regarding the cancer-preventive effects of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

For instance, a 14-year analysis within the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study found that individuals consuming the highest quantities of fruits and vegetables (8+ servings daily) showed comparable cancer incidence to those consuming the fewest servings (under 1.5) . Additionally, a meta-analysis of cohort studies failed to establish a significant link between increased fruit and vegetable intake and reduced cancer mortality .

Cancer and Diet: Exploring the Role of Fruits and Vegetables

Nonetheless, certain fruits and vegetables may confer protection against specific cancer types, as evidenced by various studies:

  • Farvid et al. followed a cohort of premenopausal women over 22 years and observed a 25% lower risk of breast cancer among those with the highest fruit intake during adolescence, particularly from apples, bananas, grapes, corn, oranges, and kale .
  • Higher fiber intake from fruits and vegetables during adolescence and early adulthood was associated with reduced breast cancer risk later in life .
  • Farvid’s team found that women consuming more than 5.5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily had an 11% lower risk of breast cancer after 30 years, with vegetables showing a strong association with lower risk of estrogen-receptor-negative tumors .

Additionally, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research suggest that non-starchy vegetables and fruits likely provide protection against several cancer types, including those affecting the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, and possibly lungs.

Cancer and Diet: Exploring the Role of Fruits and Vegetables

Certain elements within fruits and vegetables may offer protective benefits against cancer. For instance:

A line of investigation, originating from findings in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, indicates that tomatoes could potentially safeguard men from prostate cancer, particularly its aggressive forms . Lycopene, a pigment responsible for tomatoes’ red coloration, is hypothesized to play a role in this protective mechanism. While multiple studies—including those beyond the Health Professionals Study—have showcased a correlation between tomatoes or lycopene and prostate cancer, others have not or have demonstrated a tenuous connection .

Collectively, these studies suggest that heightened consumption of tomato-based products, especially cooked variants, and other foods rich in lycopene may diminish the risk of prostate cancer . Lycopene is among various carotenoids found in vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables, and evidence indicates that carotenoid-rich foods could offer protection against cancers of the lungs, mouth, and throat . Nonetheless, further research is necessary to elucidate the precise relationship between fruits, vegetables, carotenoids, and cancer.

Diabetes and Dietary Factors

Diabetes and Dietary Factors - fruits and vegetables

Some studies focus on the potential link between individual fruits and the risk of type 2 diabetes. While research in this area is still evolving, initial findings are promising.

For instance, a study involving more than 66,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, 85,104 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II, and 36,173 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study—without major chronic diseases—revealed that higher consumption of whole fruits, particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples, was associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Conversely, increased intake of fruit juice was linked to a higher risk of developing the condition .

Furthermore, research involving over 70,000 female nurses, aged 38-63 years and free from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes, indicated that consumption of green leafy vegetables and fruits was associated with a decreased risk of diabetes. While not definitive, the study also suggested a potential association between fruit juice consumption and increased diabetes risk among women .

Similarly, a study involving more than 2,300 Finnish men suggested that vegetables and fruits, particularly berries, might lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Weight Management and Dietary Choices

Findings from the Nurses’ Health Studies and the Health Professional’s Follow-up Study suggest that individuals who increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables over a span of 24 years were more likely to experience weight loss compared to those who maintained or decreased their intake. Specifically, berries, apples, pears, soy, and cauliflower were associated with weight reduction, while starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, and peas were linked to weight gain .

However, it’s essential to note that simply adding more fruits and vegetables to the diet may not lead to weight loss unless they replace other foods, such as refined carbohydrates like white bread and crackers.

Gastrointestinal Well-being

Fruits and vegetables are rich in indigestible fiber, which absorbs water and expands during digestion. This process can alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and promote regular bowel movements, thereby relieving or preventing constipation . Additionally, the bulking and softening properties of insoluble fiber reduce pressure within the intestinal tract, potentially aiding in the prevention of diverticulosis.

Maintaining Eye Health

eye health - fruits and  vegetables

Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet can contribute to maintaining healthy eyes and may play a role in preventing two prevalent age-related eye conditions—cataracts and macular degeneration—which affect millions of Americans aged 65 and above [20-23]. Specifically, nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin appear to lower the risk of cataracts.

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The Advantages of Passion Fruit for Health

Passion fruit, scientifically classified as Passiflora edulis or Passiflora flavicarpa depending on its color, belongs to the Passifloraceae plant family. Among the 500 species within this plant family, passion fruit is renowned for its historically recognized medicinal properties.

This exotic fruit thrives in tropical and subtropical regions such as South America, South Africa, Florida, and the Caribbean. Its popularity continues to soar globally due to its purported health benefits.

With its distinctive purple or yellow hue, passion fruit boasts a tough outer rind encasing soft pulp filled with seeds. Both the seeds and pulp are edible, offering a plethora of essential nutrients including antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that contribute to various aspects of health.

Abundant in Nutritional Value

Including passion fruit in a balanced diet can contribute to a strong immune system and lower the risk of illnesses due to its high nutrient content. It is especially rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that enhances immune function, with a single small fruit providing nearly 10% of the recommended daily value.

passion fruit

Vitamin C, along with other antioxidants, combats oxidative stress and inflammation by neutralizing free radicals. It also aids in the production of white blood cells, the formation of tissue, and wound healing.

Additionally, passion fruit contains beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. This vitamin is crucial for maintaining healthy skin and mucous membranes, which act as barriers against harmful pathogens.

Promotes Heart Health

Passion fruit is beneficial for heart health due to its high dietary fiber content, which helps regulate cholesterol levels. The soluble fiber, particularly pectin, in passion fruit binds to cholesterol in the digestive system, preventing its absorption and thereby lowering the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol in the body.

Additionally, a single passion fruit without the peel contains approximately 63 milligrams (mg) of potassium. Potassium is important for regulating blood pressure, which is crucial for maintaining heart health. However, it’s worth noting that one passion fruit provides only about 2% of the daily potassium requirement for an average healthy adult, who needs between 2,600-3,400 mg of potassium per day.

Improves Insulin Sensitivity

Passion fruit contains a phytochemical known as piceatannol, which has been associated with various potential health benefits in animal studies. Recent research involving human participants has indicated that supplemental piceatannol can enhance metabolic health markers in certain groups.

In one study, participants were given 20 mg of piceatannol daily, leading to improved insulin sensitivity in overweight men. This suggests that piceatannol, found in abundance in the seeds of passion fruit, may assist overweight men in utilizing blood glucose more efficiently.

Promotes Digestive Health

Passion fruit is rich in fiber, which provides numerous advantages for the gut microbiome. Ongoing research emphasizes the importance of gut health for overall well-being, indicating that an imbalance in the microbiome can trigger inflammation and contribute to chronic health issues. Foods that are high in nutrients and fiber support gut health by nourishing the beneficial bacteria in the digestive system.

Adults should aim for about 25-30 grams (g) of fiber each day, but many do not reach this goal. Consuming enough fiber is essential for regular bowel movements, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and managing blood sugar. A single passion fruit provides roughly 2 g of fiber while containing only 18 calories, making it a great option for increasing fiber intake without adding too many calories.

Promotes Healthy Skin

Passion fruit can also support skin health, as studies have suggested that piceatannol, a compound found in the fruit, has various beneficial effects on the skin. For instance, a recent study showed that using supplements containing passion fruit extract improved skin hydration and reduced signs of fatigue.

Healthy skin

Additionally, passion fruit is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C, which are vital for skin health. These antioxidants combat free radicals that lead to signs of aging and oxidative stress, a condition that can result in cell damage and disease. Furthermore, the vitamin A content in passion fruit aids in skin regeneration and helps maintain a clear complexion.

Nutritional Profile of Passion Fruit

Passion fruit is packed with nutrients, but due to its small size, it provides only modest amounts of vitamins and minerals, making it suitable for various therapeutic diets. In one passion fruit, none of the nutrients reach more than 10% of the recommended Daily Value.

A single purple passion fruit provides the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 17.5
  • Protein: 0.4 grams (g)
  • Carbohydrates: 4.2 g
  • Fat: 0.12 g
  • Fiber: 1.9 g
  • Sodium: 5 milligrams (mg)
  • Vitamin C: 5.4 mg
  • Potassium: 62.6 mg
  • Magnesium: 5.2 mg
  • Vitamin A: 11.5 micrograms (mcg)

Although the nutritional content of passion fruit may appear modest in relation to recommended daily intakes, incorporating it into your diet can still contribute to a balanced nutritional regimen. Additionally, passion fruit is low in calories, making it an excellent choice for enhancing nutrient intake without significantly increasing your overall calorie consumption.

Potential Drawbacks of Passion Fruit

Passion fruit is generally safe for consumption. However, certain parts of the fruit, especially immature ones, contain cyanogenic compounds that can be toxic if ingested in large quantities. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and fatigue. The majority of these compounds are found in the peel, which is almost inedible, while the pulp and juice pose a lower risk.

If passion fruit is not suitable for your diet, there are other tropical fruits that offer similar nutritional benefits. Fruits like pineapple, mango, pomegranate, and peaches also have an acidic taste and provide comparable nutrients.

Guidelines for Enjoying Passion Fruit

Most individuals consume passion fruit in its raw form by cutting it in half and scooping out the flesh from the rind. The white membrane that divides the rind from the pulp is safe to eat, though it has a notably bitter flavor.

The yellow variety of passion fruit is generally bigger and more tart compared to the purple variety. Storing whole passion fruit at room temperature is fine, but refrigerating it can extend its shelf life.

Passion fruit can be enjoyed in several ways. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Press the passion fruit through a strainer and mix the juice into a variety of drinks and mocktails.
  • Add passion fruit to yogurts and salads for a crunchy texture and a burst of sweetness.
  • Use passion fruit as a topping for desserts to enhance their flavor.
passion fruit
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Curious Inquiry: Originating from China and hailed as China’s national fruit, how did the kiwi fruit acquire its name inspired by New Zealand?

Martin Fone delves into the peculiar story behind the naming of the kiwi fruit.

With its fuzzy, light brown skin, vibrant green flesh dotted with tiny black seeds, and a tropical flavor reminiscent of a blend of strawberries and bananas, the kiwi fruit has transitioned from a rare exotic to a staple item on supermarket shelves. Brimming with essential antioxidants, boasting nearly twice the vitamin C content of an orange, and rich in vitamins K and E, it has become a favored choice in today’s health-conscious era. Its versatility shines through whether consumed raw, blended into a smoothie, or, following a page from Chinese culinary traditions, enjoyed as a jam.

Comprising between forty and sixty species of Actinidia, the kiwi fruit earns its taxonomic generic name, with A. deliciosa, a distinct species since the 1980s, being the most commonly encountered in stores. Flourishing equally well in both the northern and southern hemispheres, kiwi fruit production has evolved into a significant industry, with a global market valued at an estimated US$1.89 billion in 2024.

However, less than a century ago, the fruit was virtually unknown, particularly in the Western world. Its remarkable ascent — one of the most remarkable success stories in commercial agriculture in recent decades — owes much to a blend of fortune, persistence, and marketing savvy.

Contrary to its moniker, the kiwi fruit is native to the temperate forests of the mountains and hills of southwest China, where it was highly valued for its medicinal properties. Referred to as Yang tao, meaning “sunny peach,” the fruit was initially documented during the Song dynasty in the 12th century and was harvested from the wild rather than cultivated. By the time Li Shizhen compiled his comprehensive work on medicine, natural history, and Chinese herbology, Bencao Gangmu, in 1597, it had acquired the name Mihou tao, or “macaque fruit,” due to the preference of monkeys for it.

The first specimens of A. chinensis reached Europe in the 1750s, courtesy of Jesuit missionary Father Pierre Le Chéron d’Incarville. During a plant-collecting expedition to China between 1843 and 1845, Robert Fortune, commissioned by the Horticultural Society of London, also sent a sample back, which found its home at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. However, it wasn’t until 1886 that the first fruits of A. chinensis made an appearance in Europe, with Kew receiving specimens preserved in spirit. Initially, these plants and seeds were viewed as ornamental novelties rather than sources of a delectable, edible fruit, particularly since early attempts at cultivation yielded inconsistent results.

In 1900, seeds of A. chinensis dispatched by plant collector E.H. Wilson from Hupeh to James Veitch & Sons Ltd., a prominent nursery in England, sprouted successfully. However, they frustratingly yielded only male plants, dashing hopes for commercial cultivation. Meanwhile, seeds sent in 1904 by Consul-General Wilcox from Hankow to the United States Department of Agriculture showed more promise, with vines bearing fruit at the Plant Introduction Field Station in Chico, California, by 1910. Nonetheless, their commercial potential remained untapped.

While England and the United States faced setbacks, New Zealand seized the opportunity. Missionary and headmistress of a New Zealand girls’ school, Mary Isabel Fraser, gathered A. chinensis seeds from plants she encountered at a Church of Scotland mission in Yichang. She sent these seeds to Alexander Allison, a farmer in Whanganui, who planted them. By 1910, the resulting vines bore their inaugural fruits.

By 1922, commercially available cultivars emerged, with nurseryman Hayward Wright of Avondale, now a suburb of Auckland, hailing the plant in his catalogue as “a remarkable fruiting climber.” It bore a highly prized new fruit ripening over an extended winter period, filling a void in the seasonal fruit spectrum. This variety eventually became known as the Hayward cultivar.

It wasn’t until the late 1930s that the first commercial orchards and large-scale plantings of kiwi fruits were established. Initially, the produce was solely intended for the domestic market. However, a significant turning point occurred in 1952 when Jim MacLoughlin and Grahame Bayliss exported kiwi fruits for the first time, shipping thirteen tonnes to England. Within seventy years, kiwi fruits have become a cornerstone of New Zealand’s commercial horticulture sector, with 184 million trays grown for export, resulting in gross sales of NZ$2.911 billion in 2021/22.

The success of the Hayward cultivar propelled its worldwide spread, enabling other countries such as the United States, Italy, and even China (a case of sending coals to Newcastle) to become significant producers of kiwi fruit, often rivaling or surpassing New Zealand’s position in the global market. Recognizing that the proverbial genie was out of the bottle, the New Zealand Kiwifruit Authority lobbied their government in 1982 to ban the export of kiwi plants and seeds, but their appeals were disregarded. Remarkably, the genesis of the Hayward cultivar and its subsequent iterations can be directly traced back to the seeds brought by Mary Fraser from Yichang.

The naming of the fruit is a captivating tale in itself. Once it ventured beyond the Far East, it was initially dubbed the Chinese Gooseberry, despite having no relation to the gooseberry, although it did originate from China. However, traders soon realized that this name encountered consumer resistance, particularly in seeking new markets in the 1950s, as gooseberries were out of favor and anti-communist sentiments discouraged any association, real or perceived, with Mao’s China.

After considerable deliberation, Turners and Growers, a fruit packaging company based in Auckland, introduced the term “melonette” in 1958. However, this name also posed challenges. At the time, there were hefty import tariffs on melons, and there was concern that although not a melon, the fruit might attract a prohibitive tax, rendering it too expensive for potential new customers.

The following year Turner and Growers’ marketing department pulled off a masterstroke. Recognising that the fruit looked vaguely like the flightless brown bird that the country had adopted as its national symbol since 1908, they appropriated its Maori name, kiwi, for their next attempt to rid it of its connotations with gooseberries. It was a stroke of genius, immediately associating a fruit that was native to the Chinese mainland with New Zealand. And the rest is history.

Curiously, even parts of the Chinese-speaking world have now adopted the name, albeit partially transliterated. In Hong Kong and Taiwan it is known as qi yi quo in Mandarin and kei yi awo in Cantonese, both meaning strange fruit, while an internet search of Mihou Tao still brings up plenty of results, mainly from the People’s Republic. Chinese gooseberries, on the other hand, seem to have sunk into oblivion.

And just to stir the pot further, the kiwi fruit is China’s national fruit. For aficionados of the fruit, though, they have much to thank Mary Fraser for.


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Diplomatic tensions between Ecuador and Russia over military equipment threaten banana exports

A diplomatic tension between Ecuador and Russia intensified over the weekend as Ecuador’s decision to prohibit certain banana imports led to a strain in relations. The discord originated from Ecuador’s move to transfer aging Russian military equipment to the United States in exchange for $200 million worth of new military gear.

On Saturday, Russia’s federal agency for veterinary and phytosanitary controls announced a ban on imports from five Ecuadorian banana companies, citing the alleged discovery of a disease in previous shipments of their fruits. Ecuador, a major global banana exporter with sales totaling around $3.5 billion in 2022, faces a significant impact as approximately one-fifth of its annual sales are directed to Russia.

Russia’s ban on banana imports followed Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa’s January announcement about the transfer of outdated Russian military equipment to the United States. Noboa justified the move by describing the equipment as unusable “scrap metal” and emphasized the need for new equipment to combat drug gangs in the country.

In response, Russia’s foreign ministry protested, citing a violation of the contract that specified Ecuador could not sell the equipment to third parties without Russia’s consent. Carlos Estarellas, a former Ecuadorian vice minister for foreign affairs, suggested that Russia’s ban on banana imports could be a retaliatory measure against Ecuador’s decision to send the old military equipment to the U.S. He expressed hope for a diplomatic resolution to the impasse.

Richard Salazar, director of ACORBANEC, a key association of Ecuadorian banana exporters, expressed surprise at Russia’s “drastic” decision. Despite the ban, at least 15 companies continue to export bananas to Russia. Seeking official clarification, Salazar aims to engage in discussions with Russian authorities to address the issue and potentially overturn the ban, recognizing Russia as a crucial and challenging market to replace.

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Genetically modified banana approved by regulators for first time

Regulatory authorities in Australia and New Zealand have granted approval for farmers to cultivate a genetically modified banana that boasts resistance to a widespread and devastating fungal disease.

The official license for the commercial growth of the genetically modified banana was issued by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator in Australia on February 12. Subsequently, on February 16, Food Standards Australia New Zealand affirmed the modified banana’s safety and nutritional equivalence to traditional bananas. There is a 60-day window for the food ministers of Australia and New Zealand to request a review of the decision; otherwise, the approval will become final.

In the banana’s historical context, the Gros Michel variety was the initial banana widely consumed in Western countries. However, in the 1950s, the emergence of the Fusarium fungus strain, tropical race 1 (TR1), causing Panama disease, led farmers to shift to the more resistant Cavendish banana, despite its reported inferior taste.

Now, with the global spread of another Fusarium strain, TR4, posing a threat to various banana varieties, including the resilient Cavendish, the approval for the genetically modified banana marks a crucial step in addressing this escalating agricultural challenge.

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The Surprising Health Benefits of Berries: A Delicious Path to Wellness

Health Benefits of Berries

Berries are not only a delicious addition to any diet but also a powerhouse of nutritional benefits. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, these small fruits punch well above their weight in terms of health benefits. From blueberries to strawberries and raspberries, each type of berry brings its unique set of nutrients that can boost brain health, improve heart health, and contribute to a balanced diet. Let’s delve into the surprising health benefits of these colorful fruits and explore how incorporating them into your diet can lead to a healthier, more vibrant life.

Boosting Brain Health

Blueberries, often heralded as a superfood, are at the forefront of brain health. Packed with antioxidants, particularly flavonoids, blueberries have been shown to enhance cognitive functions. Studies suggest that these antioxidants help in delaying brain aging and improving memory. Regular consumption of blueberries may also mitigate the risk of cognitive decline and enhance neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to form new connections.

Strawberries are not far behind when it comes to nurturing the brain. They are rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and flavonoids that not only protect the brain from oxidative stress but also promote better brain health. The presence of these antioxidants in strawberries has been linked to a reduction in the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Improving Heart Health

Berries are heart-healthy fruits that can significantly impact cardiovascular health. The high antioxidant content in berries, especially raspberries and blackberries, helps reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which are risk factors for heart disease. These berries are also a good source of fiber, which plays a crucial role in lowering cholesterol levels in the blood.

Blueberries and strawberries have been specifically noted for their ability to improve heart health. A study found that high intake of these berries is associated with a lower risk of heart attack in middle-aged women, thanks to their high levels of anthocyanins, antioxidants that reduce blood pressure and improve vascular function.

Contributing to a Balanced Diet

Berries are an excellent addition to a balanced diet due to their high nutrient density and low calorie content. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and folate, which are essential for overall health.

The fiber content in berries also aids in digestion and helps maintain a healthy gut microbiome. Furthermore, the natural sweetness of berries makes them an ideal choice for satisfying sugar cravings in a healthy way, supporting weight management efforts.

Incorporating Berries into Your Diet

Incorporating berries into your diet is both easy and enjoyable. They can be consumed fresh, frozen, or dried, making them a versatile ingredient in various dishes. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Breakfast: Add a handful of mixed berries to your yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal for a nutritious start to your day.
  • Snacks: Keep a bowl of fresh berries in your fridge for a quick, healthy snack, or blend them into a smoothie.
  • Desserts: Use berries to create healthier desserts, such as fruit salads, berry compotes, or homemade berry ice cream.
  • Salads: Toss some berries into your green salads for an added burst of flavor and nutrition.

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Avocado leaves can prove fatal to some type of birds.

Avocado leaves, typically prized for their lush greenery and association with the beloved avocado fruit, hold a lesser-known attribute that has raised concerns within the avian world. The leaves of the avocado tree contain a compound called persin, which can be toxic to various types of birds. While persin’s effects on mammals are relatively well-documented, its impact on avian species underscores the complexity of plant-animal interactions and the importance of understanding potential hazards.

The Toxic Component: Persin

Persin, found in various parts of the avocado tree, is a fungicidal compound. It serves as a natural defense mechanism against certain pathogens. While humans typically tolerate persin well, other animals, including birds, may not share the same resilience.

Avocado Leaves and Bird Sensitivity

The avian community is not uniformly affected by avocado leaf toxicity. While many bird species have evolved mechanisms to detect and avoid potentially harmful substances, there are variations in their sensitivity to persin. Some bird species show resistance to the toxic effects of persin due to differences in their metabolism and feeding habits.

Symptoms and Severity

When birds consume avocado leaves, the results can range from mild digestive distress to severe toxicity, depending on factors such as the species of bird and the quantity ingested. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea, are common early indicators. In more serious cases, birds may experience respiratory difficulties, weakness, lethargy, and, tragically, even death.

Natural Aversion in the Wild

While it’s important to recognize the potential dangers of avocado leaves to birds, it’s equally crucial to acknowledge the behavioral mechanisms that minimize the risk. In their natural habitats, many birds have developed aversions to bitter-tasting or potentially toxic plants. The bitter taste of avocado leaves, attributed to the presence of persin, serves as a deterrent to most birds, preventing them from consuming these leaves in significant quantities.

Domestic and Urban Considerations

The concern regarding avocado leaf toxicity to birds becomes more relevant in domestic and urban settings where avocado trees are cultivated for ornamental purposes. Here, the limited dietary options for some bird species might lead them to interact with avocado leaves more frequently than their wild counterparts. However, even in these settings, cases of serious toxicity remain relatively uncommon due to the birds’ inherent aversion to the leaves.

Responsible Practices

For those who have pet birds or are passionate about avian conservation, it’s advisable to take precautions to prevent potential exposure to avocado leaves:

1. Education: Familiarize yourself with the avian species in your environment and their typical behaviors. Understanding which species might be more sensitive to avocado leaves can help you make informed decisions.

2. Avocado Management: If you’re cultivating avocado trees in areas frequented by birds, consider methods to limit bird access to the leaves. Employing physical barriers or planting other bird-friendly plants can help divert their attention away from avocado foliage.

3. Pet Care: If you have pet birds, ensure they are not exposed to avocado leaves or any other parts of the avocado tree. Adhere to a recommended avian diet to promote their well-being.

4. Response to Symptoms: Should you notice any unusual behavior or health issues in wild birds or your pet bird, consult avian experts or veterinarians who can provide appropriate care.

While it’s true that avocado leaves can be toxic to certain types of birds, the natural avoidance behaviors of most avian species play a significant role in minimizing the risk of exposure. The intricate interactions between plants and animals serve as a reminder that nature’s intricacies are vast and multifaceted. By understanding the nuances of these interactions, we can better appreciate the dynamic relationships that shape our world and ensure the well-being of all its inhabitants.

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Apples Are Cousins of Roses

In the intricate tapestry of the plant kingdom, the threads of relationships between species often weave surprising connections. One such connection exists between two seemingly dissimilar entities: apples and roses. While the taste of a crisp apple and the sight of a delicate rose might evoke distinct sensory experiences, these two entities share a familial bond, tracing their origins back to the vast and diverse Rosaceae family. Embark on a journey to uncover the fascinating botanical relationship that binds these seemingly unrelated beings together.

The Rosaceae Family: A Floral Tapestry of Diversity

The Rosaceae family, often referred to as the rose family, boasts a remarkable diversity of flowering plants. From succulent fruits to captivating blossoms, this family encompasses an array of species that have both practical and aesthetic significance. Apples and roses find themselves nestled within this diverse family tree, demonstrating that even within this botanical clan, versatility is key.

The Botanical Kinship

At first glance, it might be challenging to draw parallels between the sturdy, round form of an apple and the delicate, multi-layered petals of a rose. However, delving into their botanical structures reveals the hidden connection that ties them together.

Both apples and roses share similar floral characteristics, often characterized by the presence of five-petaled flowers. This shared floral blueprint is a testament to their shared ancestry within the Rosaceae family. The arrangement of petals and sepals, though varying in color and size, follows a similar pattern in both species. This botanical symmetry offers a visual clue to the common roots from which apples and roses have sprung.

From Bloom to Fruit: A Shared Journey

As the petals of a rose unfurl, they reveal a central reproductive structure known as the pistil, which eventually matures into the rose’s fruit—known as a rose hip. This small, berry-like fruit holds a special place in various cultures for its nutritional and medicinal value. Similarly, the story of an apple begins with its own floral journey. The center of the apple flower houses the pistil, which undergoes pollination to initiate the development of the apple fruit. While the appearance and taste of rose hips and apples might differ vastly, the sequence of events leading to their formation follows a remarkably similar trajectory.

Cultivation and Horticultural Splendor

Apples and roses have been cultivated and cherished by humanity for centuries, each for its own distinct reasons. The horticultural splendor of roses has led to the creation of innumerable cultivars, showcasing an awe-inspiring array of colors, shapes, and scents. From tea roses to climbing roses, the diversity within the rose family parallels the diversity of its cousin, the apple.

Apples, too, have captured human fascination for generations. Through meticulous cultivation and selective breeding, a myriad of apple varieties have been developed, each with its unique flavor profile, texture, and intended culinary use. The dedication to cultivating these variations is a testament to humanity’s desire to explore and enhance the offerings of the natural world.

Beyond Appearance: Taste and Utility

Despite their shared ancestry, apples and roses each offer distinct gifts to humanity. Apples are celebrated for their versatility in the culinary world. From sweet to tart, crunchy to tender, apples find their way into pies, crisps, sauces, and snacks, captivating taste buds with each bite. Beyond their deliciousness, apples are also a rich source of nutrients, embodying the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Roses, on the other hand, awaken the senses through their enchanting aromas and striking beauty. Beyond their ornamental value, roses have been used in various cultures for their potential health benefits, often brewed into teas or distilled into essential oils. Their role in perfumery and cosmetics highlights their enduring allure.

A Tapestry of Unity

In a world where diversity often leads to separation, the botanical connection between apples and roses is a reminder that unity can exist in unexpected places. The Rosaceae family serves as a living testament to the intricate web of life, where the threads of kinship extend across species boundaries.

So, the next time you bite into a juicy apple or admire the delicate petals of a rose, take a moment to appreciate the bond that ties these entities together. The connection that lies beneath their surfaces—a connection rooted in their botanical heritage—offers a profound glimpse into the complex and interconnected nature of life on Earth. Just as a tapestry gains its beauty from the harmonious arrangement of diverse threads, the botanical tapestry of the Rosaceae family is enriched by the harmonious coexistence of apples and roses.

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POMEGRANATE FOR GLOWING SKIN

*POMEGRANATE BENEFIT FOR GLOWING SKIN

*HOW TO USE POMEGRANATE FOR DRY SKIN

*HOW TO USE POMEGRANATE FOR OILY SKIN

*HOW TO USE POMEGRANATE FOR ACNE

*HOW TO USE POMEGRANATE FOR TAN

*POMEGRANATE BENEFIT FOR GLOWING SKIN:

  • Antioxidants: Pomegranates are packed with powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols and anthocyanins, which help protect the skin from free radical damage caused by UV radiation and pollution. This protection can help prevent premature aging and maintain a youthful appearance.
  • Vitamin C: Pomegranates are a good source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that promotes collagen production, which is essential for maintaining skin elasticity and reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Anti-Inflammatory: Pomegranates have anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe irritated skin and reduce redness and inflammation. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with sensitive or acne-prone skin.
  • Hydration: Pomegranates contain a high water content, which can help keep your skin hydrated and plump, promoting a healthy and radiant complexion.
  • Skin Brightening: Regular consumption of pomegranate or the use of pomegranate-based skincare products can promote a more even skin tone, reduce the appearance of dark spots and pigmentation, and give your skin a natural glow.

*HOW TO USE POMEGRANATE FOR DRY SKIN:

Pomegranate and Honey Mask:

Ingredients:

  • Fresh pomegranate seeds (1/2 to 1 whole pomegranate, depending on the size)
  • Honey (1-2 tablespoons)

Instructions:

  • Cut a fresh pomegranate and extract the seeds.
  • Crush the pomegranate seeds to create a smooth pulp or use a blender.
  • Mix the crushed pomegranate seeds with honey to create a moisturizing and soothing mask.
  • Apply the mixture to your clean face, focusing on the dry areas.
  • Leave the mask on for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Rinse it off with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry.
  • Apply a suitable moisturizer to lock in the hydration.

*HOW TO USE POMEGRANATE FOR OILY SKIN:

Pomegranate and Multani Mitti (Fuller’s Earth) Mask:

Ingredients:

  • Fresh pomegranate juice (2-3 tablespoons)
  • Multani Mitti (Fuller’s Earth) clay (2 tablespoons)
  • Water (as needed)

Instructions:

  • Cut a fresh pomegranate and extract the juice from the seeds.
  • Mix the pomegranate juice with Multani Mitti clay to create a mask with oil-absorbing properties.
  • Add water to achieve the desired consistency.
  • Apply the pomegranate and Multani Mitti mask to your clean face, concentrating on areas with oily skin.
  • Leave the mask on for about 15-20 minutes or until it dries.
  • Rinse it off with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry.
  • Apply an oil-free moisturizer if needed.

*HOW TO USE POMEGRANTE FOR ACNE:

Pomegranate and Yogurt Mask:

Ingredients:

  • Fresh pomegranate seeds (1/2 to 1 whole pomegranate, depending on the size)
  • Plain yogurt (1-2 tablespoons)

Instructions:

  • Cut a fresh pomegranate and extract the seeds.
  • Crush the pomegranate seeds to create a smooth pulp or use a blender.
  • Mix the crushed pomegranate seeds with plain yogurt to create a hydrating and exfoliating mask.
  • Apply the mixture to your clean face, concentrating on areas with acne.
  • Leave the mask on for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Rinse it off with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry.
  • Apply an oil-free moisturizer to soothe your skin.

*HOW TO USE POMEGRANTE FOR TAN:

Pomegranate Juice Rinse:

Ingredients:

  • Fresh pomegranate juice (from 1-2 pomegranates)

Instructions:

  • Cut fresh pomegranates and extract the juice from the seeds.
  • Apply the fresh pomegranate juice to the tanned areas of your skin.
  • Leave it on for 15-20 minutes.
  • Rinse it off with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry.
  • Follow with a moisturizer to maintain hydration.
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