Q: Have exotic fruits been impacted by the recent rain?

With stonefruit winding up over the next few weeks and melons suffering with the rain, you can be forgiven for thinking that there is little inspiration when it comes to fruit this Autumn. Luckily, we have some of the world’s most interesting fruits waiting at the markets, ready to bring exotic colours and flavours to your Autumn menu.

CARAMBOLA: Star Fruit, 5 corner, Bilimbing, Yang Tao

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Availability: Available all year- peak production April/May, Jul/Oct, Dec/Jan
Shape:  distinctive 5 wings
Skin: waxy green-yellow
Flesh: transparent- yellow to white
Flavour:  crisp, juicy – sweet (yellow) to slightly tart (green). The edges/tips of the wings have the most acid/tannins and are therefore the most astringent
Selection: firm bright fruit with clean, waxy skin
Preparation: can be eaten fresh – slicing achieves the distinctive star shape for platters, salads, desserts and seafood dishes

CUSTARD APPLE: aka Atemoya, Cherimoya

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Availability: March – September (peak – May/June)
Shape: heart shaped with nodules
Skin: green – yellow smooth skin
Flesh: creamy white – yellow
Flavour: rich, juicy and sweet
Selection: bruise easily therefore buy when still hard to touch and ripen over 2-3 days. Ripe fruit is light green-yellow with pale yellow skin between the nodules, it should yield to gentle pressure (like an avocado)
Preparation: slice in half and scoop out flesh to enjoy raw or alternatively use in ice-cream, sorbet, desserts, cakes or as a soothing accompaniment to spicy dishes

DRAGON FRUIT: aka Pitaya, Pitahaya

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Availability: October – April (Red), All Year (White)
Shape: large oval (150-600g)
Skin: pink – red with fleshy green scales
Flesh: there are two varieties, red or white flesh both with lots of tiny edible black seeds
Flavour: crisp, refreshing, sweet flavour- White has kiwi/melon undertones, Red a hint of raspberry
Selection: look for bright fruit that gives slightly under pressure
Preparation: chill then slice in half and scoop out flesh to enjoy raw or use can be used in marmalades, jellies or drinks

MANGOSTEEN:

Image: www.australiantropicalfruits.com.au

Availability: February to April
Shape: round, slightly flat on top
Skin: reddish purple – black
Flesh: white – creamy pink
Flavour: juicy, with subtle, sweet flavour with a hint of acid
Selection: mangosteens don’t ripen after harvest so buy mature fruit with no significant imperfections of the skin. A healthy green steam indicates freshness, the skin should yield slightly under gentle pressure
Preparation: either place fruit in palm of hand (stem up) and press gently until shell opens or cut carefully round the skin effectively ‘removing the cap’ of the fruit
NB: Yellow mangosteens do sometimes come to the markets. Deep yellow when mature and similar in size to a mandarin, they are frequently sour and should be prepared differently

PERSIMMON:

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There are two types of Persimmon, the traditional ‘Astringent’ variety and the ‘Sweet’ variety. Sweet Persimmon introduced in the ‘70s now accounts for approx. 70% of Persimmon production
Availability: late February – June
Preparation: discard stem and enjoy, handle carefully

Astringent Persimmon:
Shape:  large, heart shape
Skin: orange
Flesh: orange
Flavour: when mature they are very sweet however very unpleasant if eaten too early
Selection:  Buy firm, then allow to ripen until the flesh is soft and jelly-like

Sweet Persimmon: aka Fuji Fruit, Fuyu Fruit
Shape:  round with a somewhat flat top
Skin: orange
Flesh: orange
Flavour: mild, sweet flavour
Selection: Should be bought when crisp and crunchy. When fresh, best enjoyed like an apple, otherwise can be used when soft/mature in cooking

POMEGRANATE:

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Availability: February – May
Shape: round  
Skin: thick red – purple
Flesh: white astringent pulp which houses the edible, jelly like, red seeds of the fruit
Flavour: sweet to slightly tart
Selection: bigger (and heavier) is best, as the seeds will be larger and juicier
Preparation: Either cut into segments and peel open to reveal seeds or cut in two, score each half 4-5 times, hold over a bowl and hit the rind until the seeds fall out, dig out any remaining seeds. Seeds will also separate from the pulp easily in water

RAMBUTAN:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Availability: December – May
Shape:  oval to oblong (approx 5cm in diameter)
Skin: thick skin covered in soft, spiky hairs that are green when immature and red/scarlet when ripe
Flesh: translucent – white covering a single seed (some varieties are freestone)
Flavour:  juicy, sweet with a touch of acid
Selection: buy firm, bright fruit with firm spines (not brittle)
Preparation: delicious fresh (like their kin Lychees/Longans) however can also be used for sorbets/jams. Rambutans are also  refresh the palate between dishes

A: Exotic fruits are faring considerably well, though there has been some impact on supply. Of the lines listed above, Mangosteens are currently in shorter supply and up in price, while other lines are showing only minor quality issues.

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