Posts filed under ‘Freaky Fruit’

Freaky Fruit: Ramps

Unusual local bounty is starting to appear at the farmers market.  Here’s a vegetable I’d never seen before….

 

 

Ramps at Union Square Farmers Market

Ramps at Union Square Farmers Market

 

Ramps Ramp Up 

Baby scallions.  That’s what ramps look like.  They started ramping up about three weeks ago at the farmers market.  Ramps are in season for about a month, so consumers should hurry if they want to try them.    

Ramps are great additions to omelets and pasta, but of course they should be sautéed first, said the farmer.  He advised chopping the white part – the stem and the small bulb on the bottom – very fine and the leaves coarsely. 

Ramps, also known as wild leeks, have a “strong oniony, garlicky taste,” according to the farmer.  They come with a tangle of short white roots.  Ramps are selling for $2.50 a batch at the farmers market. 

Click here for more “Freaky Fruit.”

 

 

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April 24, 2009 at 2:40 am Leave a comment

Freaky Fruit: Jerusalem Artichokes

Curious Tubers

Jerusalem artichokes at Union Square Farmers Market

Jerusalem artichokes at Union Square Farmers Market

They’re called Jerusalem artichokes, but they neither come from Jerusalem nor look at all like artichokes. That’s just one of the many curiosities of these ginger-root look-alikes, also known as sunchokes and sunroot. Jerusalem artichokes are the root of a species of sunflower native to the eastern United States. One more interesting fact about this vegetable — it doesn’t have starch, like potatoes and most other “tubers,” making it ideal for diabetics.

Jerusalem artichokes were described at the farmers market as having a “tender, sweet nutty flavor” when eaten raw. They can be baked, roasted, sautéed or boiled.
• Price: $2/pound
• Nutritional tidbits: High in potassium and iron
• Color/shape/texture: light brown, ridged “tubers” that sometimes have nodules reminiscent of ginger root

Click here for other Freaky Fruit.

December 31, 2008 at 3:51 am 1 comment

Freaky Fruit: Husk Cherries

Here’s another “freaky fruit” — freaky because it’s new to me.  This freak of a fruit is called a husk cherry.

More Like Berries than Cherries

Husk cherries at Union Square Farmers Market.

© Photo by Margarida Correia. Husk cherries at Union Square Farmers Market.

Husk cherries look more like berries than cherries, once you peel back their paper-thin husk.  They’re lightweight, almost weightless, as delicate as Osage oranges are rough. The small, perfectly round cherries — no berries — hide in their husks like oysters in oyster shells.  They come in hues of green or orange and taste a little like pineapple.  They’re said to be a relative of the tomato family.

Husk cherries — also called ground cherries — can be eaten raw or used in salads and desserts.  The farmer at the Union Square market said she uses them to make preserves. Gathered in a crate by the hundreds, the husk cherries looked liked delicately wrapped bons-bons.

· Price:  $10/pound

· Nutritional tidbits: rich in a carotenoid pigment called cryptoxanthin, which the body converts to vitamin A.

· Shape/color/texture:  round-shaped fruit, the size of a berry, enclosed in a delicate beige-colored husk.

Click here for other Freaky Fruit.

December 5, 2008 at 3:17 am 1 comment

Freaky Fruit

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

Osage Oranges — Natural Raid for Roaches

A woman described them best to her no more than seven-year-old son:  “They look like brains,” she said of the Osage oranges sitting lonesomely on the fringes of a farm stand — outcasts of sorts.   

Osage oranges at Union Square Farmers Market.

Osage oranges at Union Square Farmers Market.

The unusual fruit is not something you’d naturally reach out for. First, their deeply wrinkled surface is indeed reminiscent of a brain, conjuring images of slimy creatures in horror flicks.  Not only are they unpleasant to look at.  They’re unpleasant to touch.  Dare to touch the untouchable fruit and your hands immediately feel sticky.

 

 

 

There’s a reason the fruit is both visually and tactilely repugnant.  Osage oranges shouldn’t be eaten as the inedible fruit makes people vomit. 

Is this freaky fruit good for anything? Yes.  Osage oranges have a mild citrus odor, which repels cockroaches and other bugs.  For New York City apartment dwellers, they might be better than keeping a can of Raid.

·         Price:  $2 each

·         Nutritional tidbits: No nutrition here as this fruit is inedible.  Squirrels, though, like them and eat their seeds.

·         Shape/color/texture:  bright fluorescent green and round like an orange with a hard and deeply wrinkled surface. 

Click here for other Freaky Fruit.

November 13, 2008 at 2:50 am 4 comments

Freaky Fruit

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.

November 3, 2008 at 6:53 pm 6 comments

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