Freaky Fruit

November 3, 2008 at 6:53 pm 6 comments

Stroll through farmers markets on a regular basis, and you’re bound to come across some unusual bounty.  Here are a few crops I otherwise would never have known had it not been for my trips to New York City farmers markets. 

Say ‘I Love You’ with a Quince

Quince — a cross between a pear and an apple — is a fruit that the Romans and Mediterranean people gave to their fiancées – “their intendeds” – as a symbol of their love.  As one farm stand put it last year, it’s “what Adam gave Eve.” 

Quince, a fruit lovers exchanged in ancient times.

Quince, a fruit lovers exchanged in ancient times.

The fruit is an odd choice for a token of love.  It’s tart, very tart, and best used in making jelly and jam.  Quince also makes great stuffing for pork and chicken, and because it’s fragrant also makes a good air freshener.   One farmer said he throws them into his car and keeps them near radiators in his home. 


  • Price: $3/pound
  • Nutritional tidbits: good source of vitamin C
  • Shape/color/texture:  lima-bean green, anomalously round and coated with light fuzz, just like peaches

Crunchy Crosnes

These off-white root vegetables look like Wentletrap seashells.  The crunchy little twisted “tubers” have a water chestnut flavor and go great in salads.  They can also be roasted, pickled or sautéed in light butter.  If you buy them, though, don’t wait too long to eat them, a farm vendor advised me.  They lose their crunchiness quickly.  Crosnes originated in the French village of can you guess?  Crosnes. 

  • Price:  $16/pound
  • Nutritional tidbits:  three ounces contain about 2.5 grams of protein and 17 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Shape/color/texture:  off-white, smooth textured, and shaped like small Wentletrap seashells

Celeriac: Pug of the Vegetable World

Celeriac is typically used in casseroles and baked dishes.


Celeriac – also known as celery root or knob celery – is probably one of the ugliest root vegetables around.  It’s knobby and deeply furrowed – the pug of the vegetable world.  Celeriac, which tastes like celery, is used in casseroles and baked dishes and as a flavoring for soups and stews.  It can also be eaten on its own, usually mashed.  Celeriac varies in size. They can be as small as an Idaho potato and as large as a melon. 


  • Price:  anywhere from $2 to $5 each; also priced by pound
  • Nutritional tidbits: very good source of Vitamin C and phosphorous
  • Shape/color/texture:  dirt-colored; knobby, knotted ball with a tangle of roots on the surface

There’s more “Freaky Fruit” to come, so stay tuned.


Entry filed under: Farmers Market, Freaky Fruit, Local Food Production. Tags: , , , , , .

Hunters and Farmers Urban Farmer Seeks to Spread Passion for Growing Food

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Freaky Fruit « New York Bounty  |  November 13, 2008 at 2:50 am

    […] here for other Freaky […]

  • 2. m.thew  |  December 15, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    The smell of quince, even just sitting on the counter, is to die for. Add one to a mess of apples for a pie is a nice addition, or go with a dollop of quince jam. Lately, I’ve just been enjoying it with peanut butter, the q-jam that is.

  • 3. Freaky Fruit: Romanesco Broccoli « New York Bounty  |  October 18, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    […] all you freaky fruitistas:  We’ve hit the peak of the freaky fruit season.  Things like celeriac, osage oranges and husk cherries are out in force at the farmers […]

  • 4. Freaky Fruit: Lambsquarters « New York Bounty  |  June 6, 2010 at 12:46 am

    […] here, here and here and for more Freaky […]

  • 5. Freaky Fruit: Purple Kohlrabi « New York Bounty  |  October 15, 2010 at 1:42 am

    […] — they’re beginning to make their debuts at farmers markets throughout the city.  Pug-like celeriac, bulbous Jerusalem artichokes and other strange-looking root vegetables can be spotted at many farm […]

  • 6. Freaky Fruit: Parsley Root « New York Bounty  |  December 20, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    […] — is a hearty vegetable that can be used interchangeably with carrots, turnips, parsnips and celeriac in soups, stews and other dishes.  It can also be served fresh, fried, sautéed and […]

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