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paw paw!

October 10, 2008

exciting news! i found a yard in my neighborhood that has three large paw paw trees, full of fruit. i’ll update once i ask them if i may partake…

the paw paw is a temperate climate version of the most delicious fruit i can think of — cherimoya!


Here I go ’round the mulberry tree

September 5, 2008

I moved into my current place August of last year. When Fall rolled around, an overgrown corner of my back yard revealed itself to be primarily comprised of tangled, unkempt blackberry bushes. The berries were plentiful for at least a couple of weeks.

It’s great having fruit growing in one’s own yard, so that was a pleasant surprise.

Earlier this June, I started a garden right next to those blackberry bushes. Soon after clearing the ground, I noticed large, and apparently ripe, blackberries appearing on my garden’s soil. I scrutinized the blackberry bushes nearby, but didn’t see any berries — let alone ripe ones. Still, there were blackberries on the ground, so I chalked it up to birds stealing the few ripe berries…and dropping them two feet away.

After a couple of weeks, the ground was littered with berries. I remained mystified.

I’d probably still be mystified if my girlfriend hadn’t provided me with a crucial insight. When I told her about the mysterious blackberries, she didn’t look at the blackberry bushes — she looked straight up. Although this made perfect sense, it never occurred to me — I was so sure that they were blackberries. Above my garden is a huge tree, full of berries. I had to do a little research to determine that they are mulberries.

don't eat the green ones!

Mulberries taste like blackberries, basically. There’s less tart and more sweet, which is fine by me. The most stunning part is the sheer volume of fruit. I read that a large tree can produce 11 bushels of berries in a season. Woo!


September 5, 2008

I went to Orlando, Florida in June/July this year, and for some reason I was certain I’d find a mamey sapote. To my surprise, they weren’t around and nobody even knew what they were if I attempted to ask. Fate has seemingly plunked them down on my doorstep, however, as I recently found them at a local Wegman’s.

Despite my long search, I found myself at a slight loss when picking one out in the store. All the fruit were about the same size and shape (large mango with a hint of football), and none had major blemishes on their aesthetically pleasing light-brown, sand-papery skin. I picked a couple of firm, solid-seeming fruits and discarded those with soft spots.

I seem to have made the right choice — after a couple of days, mine became slightly soft, like a perfectly ripe kiwi. I cut one in half (beautiful orange-salmon flesh and large shiny black seed that was easily removed) and dug in with a spoon.

Its wikipedia article has this to say about the mamey’s flavor:

“… a combination of pumpkin, sweet potato, candied yams, maraschino cherries with the texture of an avocado.”

An intriguingly odd list, to be sure, but almost completely accurate (I initially perceived an almond-flavored sweet potato). One thing the above description glosses over is the sweet. Sweet, sweet, sweet. Too sweet to eat the entire large fruit in one sitting — fortunately my girlfriend April and my pet rat Penny both enjoyed the mamey and heartily finished their portions. I found its sweetness a bit too cloying and overwhelming as I ate. It certainly is one of the most dessert-like fruit I’ve ever had.

As for the texture, it was a little like bread pudding. The flesh is firm and easily scoopable with a spoon (ala avocado or papaya) but in the mouth it is not as thick, uniformly smooth/creamy, or as watery as that of an avocado. It’s actually a little mushy.

Its sweetness and texture made me think that it’d work far better in smoothie form, which I will be trying out today. It’s a delicious and interesting fruit, but possibly too sweet to much of in one sitting (hopfully I didn’t let mine get overripe).


Smoothie wins! When I wrote my initial review yesterday I was eating the sapote right after lunch, and my fullness probably made it seem slightly less appetizing overall. I left what I couldn’t finish in the fridge, wrapped in foil. Half-expecting it to be brown and unappealing today (like an avocado), it was actually the same color, and the coolness from the fridge actually made it even better! Tasty! I finished that off and cut into the other one, putting half in the blender with some soy milk, ice, and ground flax. I didn’t add a sweetener because it’s pretty sweet already, as you may have gathered. The smoothie was delicious and even April asked for more! The best part: I still have half a mamey in the fridge for tomorrow.

I am made of papaya.

June 6, 2008

papaya cross-sections

I used to like papayas. Now, I’m starting to think I love papayas. I bought one a week ago after stumbling across a papaya-ginger smoothie recipe. The smoothie never got made, however, because I ended up eating the whole fruit for lunch. That was not my original intention — I was just going to eat half, make something else for lunch, and save the rest for the smoothie. But I was so hungry and it was so good and…

Gorging myself on papaya made me feel great. I don’t know what it was. I was full of cool, refreshing contentedness. I immediately bought three more papayas — another big one (a “Caribbean Red”) and two smaller ones.

There was not a big difference between the two varieties I purchased (don’t worry, I didn’t eat all three in one sitting). The smaller ones were sweeter and more flavorful, and the big one was more watery and mild. Papayas are interesting in that there’s not even a hint of tartness. Their flavor is subtle and complements the soft, smooth texture very well. I find them unrelentingly easy to eat.

It’s hard to tell when papayas are at the perfect ripeness. In fact, I was waiting a few days for them to ripen before I decided to just take my chances with one of the small ones. Turns out it was perfect, even though I thought it would be a bit under-ripe. Sometimes you just have to take a chance. This papaya ripeness chart here seems to confirm that there’s always a bit of guesswork involved. Oh well.

I guess I’ll have to pay a bit more attention to papaya varieties in the future. Maybe I can find the perfect one.

In search of the *really* good strawberry.

March 27, 2008

When’s the last time you had a REALLY good strawberry? Seems like all you can get around here are big ones whose predominate flavor is “tart” and with only a watered-down hint of strawberry essence. I know I should avoid these attractively enormous grocery store strawberries and try to find some from local farms, and that’s what I’ll do whenever strawberry season rolls around. I’m on a mission: eat some really good strawberries. I know they exist. The last really good strawberry I had was a pea-sized wild strawberry found by the side of the road in the French countryside. That’s my only real lead right now, but I also have inside information that Poland is home to the best strawberries. I will remain dubious until I experience that for myself.

So, anyone have any insight?