Often not knowing the basic characteristics leads us to buy fruit that is not yet ripe, or excessively ripe, and therefore deprives us of the pleasure of tasting these special delicacies.
In fact, some exotic fruits are now at home with us, as pineapple and banana, which are now among the most popular fruits and consumed in the world, others are known and purchased by many people in Europe, as avocado, papaya, mango, litchis, others are instead gastronomic curiosities, which unfortunately often are only part of beautiful centerpieces, because the hosts do not know the taste, do not know how to peel, do not know if it is appropriate to eat them raw or cooked.
Here are some of the following exotic fruits now present in all Italian supermarkets, and often also from the greengrocer or the local market, avoiding to mention those who now all know and consume habitually.
The avocado is the berry produced by the American Persea, a small tree native to Central America, grown to produce the fruit in Asia, Africa and Europe. Evergreen trees produce numerous pear-shaped fruits, depending on the variety of the plant these fruits can have green skin, brown, or even purple, smooth or covered with wrinkles and buntings.
The ripeness of the fruit is felt when the pulp is slightly yielding; an excessively hard fruit is still unripe, while if our avocado is soft to the touch we can even throw it.
It is eaten raw, in pieces or blended; it is generally a fruit that is consumed with the addition of salt, as a base of sauces such as guacamole, or in salads. The flesh, greenish or yellowish in colour, is creamy and contains a lot of oil.
To eat an avocado it is necessary to cut it on the side and, taking it with both hands, divide it in two, revealing the large central seed; at this point, if the fruit is very ripe, we can dig it with a spoon and use the blended polenta; if it is less mature, we can peel it with a knife and cut it into slices for a salad.
The pulp of the avocado tends to oxidize quickly if left in the air, so it is generally used with citrus juice, which prevents oxidation.
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The mango is the fruit of the indica manger, an evergreen tree native to Asia, now also cultivated in Africa and South America.
The fruit looks like a huge olive; there are dozens of varieties of mangoes, so there are fruits of various colors and sizes, generally those sold in Europe are the size of an apple, and of various colors, from green to yellow, from orange to red, up to purple. The mango fruits are ripe when they are slightly soft to the touch; also in this case, a fruit that is too soft, or with dents, is excessively ripe.
The peel of the mango is thick and fibrous and often difficult to remove, then you proceed by dividing the fruit in half, removing the seed, and cutting the pulp into squares: at this point you push from the side of the peel to obtain a kind of hedgehog from which it is easier to take the pieces of pulp. If desired, we can also remove the skin and cut the mango into pieces. This fruit is eaten raw, or even in jams or compotes.
In Indian cuisine it is also used in the salted version, mixed with spicy meat dishes.
Papaya is the fruit of a plant called Carica papaya; these plants develop in nature in Central and South America, where they produce large fruits, weighing up to 6-7 kg. Papayas are cultivated in America, Asia and Africa, even if often dwarf species are cultivated, which produce fruits weighing less than one kilogram.
It has a firm and perfumed pulp, which contains a particular enzyme, papain; this enzyme has the ability to soften the flesh, and in fact often the sap of the plant, the juice of the fruit or even pieces of the fruit were traditionally used by the Central American populations for this purpose.
Papayas are consumed when they are a beautiful golden yellow color, and are eaten raw, or in jam, after removing the skin and the many seeds contained in the center of the fruit.
Green papayas are used cooked, often in salty dishes.
Papaya seeds are edible and have an intense, spicy taste; dried and toasted they can be used as pepper.
Kumquat is a small, oval-shaped citrus fruit, originally from Japan, which is also grown in Italy. It has the particularity of having a sour pulp and a thin skin and aromatic, is then eaten whole. Kumquats are fairly common citrus fruits in Italy, and are eaten raw, but are also used a lot of syrup or candied fruit: this treatment enhances the aroma of both sweet and sour.
The plant of the lychee chinensis produces countless small red fruits, the size of a ping pong ball, gathered in large clusters. It is a plant of Chinese origin, also cultivated in southern Asia, Israel and Italy. The fruits are particular: they have a thin, rigid skin, which breaks easily with the nails, and encloses a whitish pulp, translucent, very aromatic. Inside the fruit there is a large seed.
Litchis are purchased when they are well turgid, bright red, free of depressions and delicately scented, avoid buying fruits with traces of mold that, even if superficial, ruins the flavor of the whole fruit.
Litchis have a delicate pulp, sweet and juicy, which is consumed raw, but is also used to prepare creams, ice creams and sorbets. In China syrups are generally used, but it does not seem that this product has attracted much Italian consumers.
Strictly related to the lychee is the Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum), the fruits, for shape and pulp very similar to the lychee, have on the skin many soft hooks, which make them vaguely similar to the hedgehog of a horse chestnut, even the rambutan are eaten fresh, after removing the thin red or orange skin. While litchis are easy to find on the market, rambutans are less common on the market in Italy.
The maracuja is the fruit of some varieties of passion flower, is also called the fruit of passion, there are two varieties, a yellow one, the size of a small orange, and a purple one, the size of a mandarin. They are plants of South American origin, now widespread for centuries in cultivation in Asia, New Zealand and most of the tropical areas of the world, where sometimes they have become infesting plants.
Passion fruit is consumed when the skin starts to lose its turgidity and the pulp becomes soft, like medlars or khaki. At this point, the thin skin is cut with a knife and with a spoon seeds and pulp are extracted, which are consumed together. The taste is decidedly very aromatic.
Passion fruit is used raw, but can also be used to produce jams, fruit juices, jellies, ice creams, creams.
Large fruit of the Acca sellowiana, similar to large green plums. Plant native to Central and South America, this plant is also grown in Europe, Asia and the United States. Africa.
I fruits have a hard and resistant rind, which is cut with a knife to divide the fruit in half; inside the pulp is yellow, fragrant, slightly sweet, aromatic, is consumed raw.
Fruit of the Psidium guajava, native to South America, very cultivated also in Asia. The guava fruits are similar to quinces, and are ripe when they reach the yellow color and a consistency quite soft to the touch, but not excessively. Usually, they are eaten raw, but are utilized also for producing jams, creams, jellies.
The Garcinia mangostana is an evergreen tree widespread in Southeast Asia; it produces fruits similar to small apples, green in colour, hard and compact, which are harvested keeping attached to the fruit the calyx of the flower and the peduncle that connected the fruit to the branch. When the green skin becomes purplish and slightly yielding, the fruit is ripe, ready to be consumed.
If the calyx and the peduncle appear dry or damaged and the pulp has depressions, our mangosteen is to be thrown away.
The outer skin must be engraved with a knife, to divide the fruit in half: inside a thick pulp and inedible fibrous aril is divided into segments of a white color, is the edible part of the fruit.
The taste of the mangosteen is intense and aromatic, and the slices have a creamy consistency; they are eaten raw.
Exotic fruits: Pitaya
The pitaya is the fruit of a cactus, called hilocereus undatus, native to South America, cultivated for producing fruits also in Asia; the fruit is similar to a soft pear, of yellow or pink colour, as soon as picked, it is covered by several thorns, which are usually not present on the fruits diffused on the market, as it happens for the Indian figs.
The fruit is eaten by cutting it in half and consuming the soft pulp with a spoon; the pitaya fruits are full of small dark seeds, immersed in a white gelatinous pulp, with a delicate and fragrant taste. This fruit is usually consumed raw, fresh, but can also be used for juices, creams, jellies.
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- Die tropischen Frutti, denen wir uns entziehen, sind die Produkte des Ursprungs der tropischen und subtropischen Regionen.
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