Jackfruit…The Which — April 15, 2021

Jackfruit…The Which

Jackfruit can be found fresh, canned, or frozen in many specialty supermarkets and Asian food stores.







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Fresh Jackfruit

Fresh jackfruit can be purchased at Asian food markets and specialty stores…where it’s typically sold by the pound, The typical jackfruit will weigh somewhere between ten and twenty-five pounds.

The smell of a jackfruit indicates its ripeness: The stronger the jackfruit smells, the riper the jackfruit is.

Fresh jackfruit can often be hard to find when it is not in season, but can be useful at any stage of ripeness.







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Unripe Jackfruit..

Unripe jackfruit is green and will become yellow as it ripens. This unripe, green jackfruit is what most of us will find the most interesting and useful because it has a texture very similar to chicken or pulled pork, making it an excellent meat substitute—in such savory dishes as curries, pies, tacos, soups, stir-fries, chili, stews, wraps, and burritos.

Honestly, I’m not sure that I’d ever go to the trouble of buying a whole jackfruit and processing it myself…it seems like a big pain in the butt.

But…

If you’re willing to try it and let me know just how easy or difficult it is, go for it. I just had surgery on my hand and will be content to buy either the pre-packaged and pre-seasoned jackfruit chunks that are found in the freezer or the canned stuff…both already packaged to have that look and texture of meat that makes it such a great meat substitute.

If you do go all out and buy the real deal, first you have to cut through the thick, green coral reef-like skin with a sharp serrated knife. Chilling the jackfruit in the fridge for a while before breaking into it will make this easier to do.

Once you’ve dug your way into the jackfruit, you will find a creamy white interior filled with large, pale yellow seed-containing bulbs that are connected to the fruit’s core.

Keep slicing until you have large chunks of fruit (leaving the skin on).

Before you can use the fresh jackfruit in recipes, you will need to boil the jackfruit chunks for about 45 minutes…until the inner flesh is soft and a bit stringy, like chicken. You could also do this in your pressure cooker.



If you are working with a fresh, unripe jackfruit, first cut the fruit in half. Next remove the yellow fruit pods and seeds from the skin and core with either a knife or your hands. The white, fibrous parts inside of the jackfruit will be very sticky, so you probably should wear gloves while doing this.

You will need to boil the jackfruit chunks for at least thirty minutes…until the flesh becomes soft and stringy…the same texture as pulled pork or chicken….before you can use the jackfruit in any of the recipes that I will sharing in the next few posts..(more on this later)…



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Ripe Jackfruit

Ripe jackfruit has a rather neutral flavor that will absorb the flavor of whatever other foods it is cooked with, much like a potato. Fresh, ripe jackfruit can be eaten on its own, added to yogurt or oatmeal. or used to make a wide range of recipes—including desserts.

Often stores will sell packages of precut jackfruit because the entire jackfruit itself can be so big. Always choose this instead of buying a whole one and going to the trouble of cutting it yourself…will save you time, money, and effort in the long run.

Regardless what form of jackfruit you buy, always avoid fruit with black or dark spots.

If you buy green jackfruit, you need to go ahead and use it while it still is green…or process and freeze it as soon as possible.

Cut, ripened jackfruit can be stored in plastic in the fridge for up to a one week or in the freezer for up to a month.



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Jackfruit Seeds

You can also roast or boil the jackfruit seeds and then combine with seasonings to be eaten whole…or can be used to make hummus, top a salad, make a smoothie, or grind into flour.









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Canned Jackfruit

Canned jackfruit will be packed in either a brine or a syrup. Always choose jackfruit packed in brine because this will be better for making savory dishes.

Also check to make sure that the labels includes the words “green,” “young,” or “tender” if you plan on using the jackfruit as a meat substitute..



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Jackfruit Products

These days it seems like more and more foods containing jackfruit are sprouting up at your local Whole Foods, Sprouts, and the health-food section of just about any traditional grocery store. Try them. You might find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I was as to how great these products can be.

Jackfruit…The Why — April 13, 2021

Jackfruit…The Why

Jackfruit in bowl

Jackfruit has an impressive nutrition profile…containing nearly every vitamin and mineral that is recommended for healthy diets…including significant amounts of vitamins A and C…as well as the minerals potassium, riboflavin, and manganese…and the antioxidants.



According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one cup of raw, sliced jackfruit contains…



Calories…157…Half of a cup of jackfruit contains 95 calories.



Protein…2.84 grams……the edible pulp of a jackfruit contains almost three grams of protein…way more than the typical zero to one grams in apples and mangoes.



Fat...Jackfruit contains only a small amount of fat…1.06 grams.



Carbs…38.36 grams..Approximately 92% of the calories come from carbs.



Fiber...2.5 grams



Sugars…31.48 grams





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Jackfruit and Vitamins

A food is considered a “rich source” of a particular vitamin or mineral if it contains 20% or more of the Daily Value, DV, of that particular vitamin or mineral.

Vitamin B1…9%DV….105mg

Vitamin B2…Riboflavin…5%…0.055mg

Vitamin B6…25%DV

Vitamin C…22.6 mg…18% RDI







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Jackfruit and Minerals

  • Copper: 15% of the RDI
  • Riboflavin: 11% of the RDI
  • Potassium……739mg…14% of the RDI
  • Magnesium…15%RDI…48mg
  • Manganese: 16% of the RDI







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Jackfruit and Antioxidants

Jackfruit is a good source of antioxidants, including carotenoids—which have been shown to help lower inflammation and reduce the risk of various chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease…and flavanones—which contain anti-inflammatory properties that may help lower blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels — important factors in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.









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Health Benefits

Blood Pressure…The potassium found in jackfruit can help lower your blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium and reducing tension in the walls of blood vessels.

Cancer…Jackfruit contains antioxidants that help prevent the oxidative stress caused by free radicals that could lead to several chronic diseases, including cancer.





Cholesterol Levels…Eating jackfruit seeds may help reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, that can cause a waxy deposit to build up along the inner walls of your arteries…resulting in restricted blood flow, high blood pressure, and increased risk of heart attack or stroke…as well as raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, that helps remove LDL cholesterol from blood vessels and send it back to the liver.



Diabetes…Jackfruit has a fairly low glycemic index (GI), meaning that your blood sugar will not spike quickly after you eat it. Jackfruit also contains flavonoid antioxidants that have been shown to help balance your blood sugar levels and keep your pancreas healthy, which is important because the pancreas is what organ actually produces insulin.



Digestive health…Jackfruit is a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber…as well as the prebiotics needed to help support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.



Heart Health…The potassium, fiber and antioxidants found in jackfruit may lower your risk of heart disease.



Immune System…The vitamin A and C content of jackfruit may help prevent illnesses and reduce the risk of viral infections.



Skin and Bones…Jackfruit is a good source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that all already know is good for maintaining a healthy immune system. Vitamin C is also needed in order for your body to produce collagen, a protein so very important for maintaining healthy skin, bones, connective tissues, blood vessels and cartilage….and for healing wounds. Not only that, jackfruit has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.

Jackfruit…The What — April 11, 2021

Jackfruit…The What

Jackfruit in bowl

I have been using the meals.com app to plan our meals for about ten years now, and when we were faced with the dreaded d-word….diabetes, not divorce…I switched over to the vegetarian plan of this meal planning service.

Soon to find myself ordering ingredients and produce that in my previous fifty years of existence, I had never tried…and sometimes never heard of.

One of these foods was the jackfruit.



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What is Jackfruit?!

Why was jackfruit one of the first produce items that I had to faimiliarize myself with?!

Hello?!?!?!

Because I am from the Deepest Parts of the Deep South…the heart of the Delta…Mississippi…

And i know that absolutely no one can survive life without some sort of barbecue…

So when I read that the texture of the fruit is like my prized shredded meats…and that is often considered a meat substitute by those on vegetarian and vegan diets,, I had to try it for myself…(it’s actually good…but more on that later though)…





The Tree…Jackfruit, like durian, grow on evergreen trees that flower from December until February or March. The termite-proof wood from the jackfruit tree is commonly used to build furniture, doors, windows, roofs, musical instruments, and houses….many claiming that jackfruit wood is superior to teak for building furniture.

Dye made from the jackfruit trees is what is used to give the robes of Buddhist monks their distinctive light-brown color.



The Fruit…Jackfruit have hard, gummy shells that ripen from an initially yellowish-greenish…to a yellow…to a yellowish-brown color.

Jackfruit is similar to the durian that we talked about in a previous post, but have pimples instead of spikes…so they might not be as able to kill you if one plops out of the tree onto your head…lucky us, right?!

Probably not so lucky, since each fruit can weigh up to eighty pounds…and can reach ten to forty inches in length…and six to twenty inches in diameter.

Jackfruit are in season mainly in July and August.



The Taste and Aroma...Jackfruit has a sweet, fruity taste similar to bananas, pineapples, and pears….kind of a cross between all three. Fully ripe jackfruit have a strong pleasant aroma similar to pineapple and banana.

Actually immature jackfruit has a fairly neutral taste that will “take on” the flavor of whatever sauce or seasoning you pair it with…meaning that its stringy consistency when paired with quality barbecue sauce will even convince the die-hard carnivores in your family try a bite…(trust me, my family actually loves jackfruit barbecue sandwiches).

Jackfruit has always been popular in its native Southeast Asia countries—Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Vietnam…but has become a ‘trend” of sorts among vegans and vegetarians in the past decade…people like me who want to cut out meat, but could never imasgine life without pulled barbecue pork sandwiches.

Making the Perfect Refrigerator Jam — April 5, 2021

Making the Perfect Refrigerator Jam

Ever since I started receiving my weekly subscription box from Imperfect Foods, I have found myself to ending up with fruit that often seems to get overlooked and forgotten.

In an effort to keep food waste down, I have decided to go ahead and prep some of the produce as soon as I receive it…either by slicing, dicing, chopping…freezing into smoothie bags…or doing something even more creative such as making a batch of refrigerator jam.

Refrigerator jam is a fresh, sweet treat that is not only very easy to make and even more delicious to enjoy…but is also packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals…with none of the sugars or preservatives typically found in store-bought jams.

The basically fool-proof recipe that I use to make refrigerator jam makes about two cups…and will keep for about a week in the fridge.

As far as flavor, you can use this easy, quick, and versatile recipe as a template for making jam out of any fresh fruit—such as strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, and peach—or frozen fruit or fruit combination….and any kind of spices, herbs, or zests you can imagine.

My goal is to now make one batch of this per weekly subscription box so that I can take advantage of as many of these fruit’s nutritional values and unique tastes as possible….flavor combinations on my radar right now include…blueberry ginger…strawberry basil lemon…raspberry mint…blackberry cinnamon…and peach blueberry.

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INGREDIENTS

  • Fruit…1 lb fresh or frozen fruit
  • Sugar…1C
  • White grape juice…2C
  • 1Tbsp lemon juice
  • Optional…4 tbsp of chia seeds1/2tsp salt…1/2tsp cinnamon…1/2tsp vanilla…pinch of anything else you might stumble upon as you’re cleaning out your spice drawer—such as nutmeg or cardamom

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INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Wash the fruit. Remove any stems or peels. Chop into large chunks if needed. Raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries can all remain whole.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about twenty minutes, or until the juices thicken….stirring frequently to prevent sticking to the bottom.
  5. If you want to add some fresh herbs into your jam, such as basil, mint, or thyme, do it during the last few minutes of the cooking process to retain their bright flavor.
  6. Transfer hot jam into a glass jar. Store in fridge once it has cooled down.

Dippadedooda…Dippadeyay…Here’s How to Eat Chocolate in a Fun Healthy Way — April 4, 2021

Dippadedooda…Dippadeyay…Here’s How to Eat Chocolate in a Fun Healthy Way

Ever since our family has been dealing with the dreaded “d-word”…diabetes, not divorce, in case you’re wondering…I have been trying to find ways to keep my Mississippi sweet tooth satisfied without steering way too far off course.

Even the best fruit can get a little old if you realize that you’re gonna be eating an apple a day…every day…every week…every month…every year…for the rest of your life.

So I have been trying to find ways to make sure that my next weekly produce box from Imperfect Foods is a rewsward, instead of a punishing reminder of just how fat and unhealthy I really am.

One way to keep fruit from becoming just another box that you check off your My Fitness Pal or whatever other food diary that you happen to keep…if you actually do keep one at all…is to keep a dip around to dip your fruits and veggies in…perhaps to disguise the taste a little, right?!

So here I’m gonna share one of my favorite dips—an low-carb, dairy-free, creamy smooth, ultra-impressive, decadently chocolate, ooey-gooey, yummilicious dip that is perfect when paired with all kinds of goodies—any fresh fruit, chocolate-dipped strawberries, angel food cake, apples, marshmallows, dried fruit, nuts—certain to satisfy your chocolate craving–without the guilt.

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Ingredients

Greek Yogurt…1/2C…you can use really any unsweetened Greek yogurt, but the higher the fat content, the creamier your dip will turn out.

Sweeteners…1Tbsp…you can really use whatever sweetener you like–stevia, honey, , sugar, agave syrup

Salt—1/4tsp

Vanilla…1-1/2tsp

Pinch cayenne pepper

Chocolate chips…1-1/4C

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Instructions

Place ingredients in a medium-sized, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for about 90 seconds. Stir until completely smooth and well-incorporated, and the dip is thickened and entirely smooth.

Who Wants a Golden Ticket, When You Can Have a Golden Berry Instead —

Who Wants a Golden Ticket, When You Can Have a Golden Berry Instead

Golden Berries: Nutrition and Benefits - Ben's Natural Health

Golden berries—also known as Inca berry, Peruvian groundcherry, poha berry, goldenberry, husk cherry and cape gooseberry, aguaymanto, topotopo, and Peruvian groundcherry….(don’t ask me why, why go ask your Mother)…are not actually berries. They belong to the “nightshade” family…the same family as tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants.

Golden berries are native to the mountainous forests of the Andes—countries such as Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, Peru and Chile where the annual average temperature is about 60°F….and has been cultivated there ever since the days of the ancient Incans—as early as 4,000 years ago. Today they are also found in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Golden berries grow on shrubs that are about three feet high with velvety, heart-shaped leaves and bell-shaped flowers that are less than an inch across.Hawaii, Taiwan, California, India, and Great Britain..

The fruit itself is a bright, yellow-orange orb wrapped in a papery husk…similar in appearance to a tomatillo and about the size of a marble…sort of a mini version of a yrllow cherry tomato.

Golden berries have a tart, tangy taste…similar to other tropical fruits—such as the pineapple or mango.

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Nutritional Value

Goldenberries are a low-calorie fruit that contain impressive amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber as shown below, but the primary benefit of golden berries is a high concentration of antioxidants—such as polyphenols and carotenoids—naturally-occuring pigments that give foods such as goldenberries, oranges, pumpkins, and carrots their color.

One cup of golden berries contains…

  • Calories: 74
  • Carbs: 15.7 grams
  • Fiber: 6 grams
  • Protein: 2.7 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Vitamin C: 21% of the RDI for women and 17% for men
  • Thiamine: 14% of the RDI for women and 13% for men
  • Riboflavin: 5% of the RDI
  • Niacin: 28% of the RDI for women and 25% for men
  • Vitamin A: 7% of the RDI for women and 6% for men
  • Iron: 8% of the RDI for women and 18% for men
  • Phosphorus: 8% of the RDI

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Health Benefits

Golden berries have many health benefits to offer. Let’s take a look at some of them…

  • Bones…Golden berries are high in vitamin K, a vitamin thar is necessary for healthy bones and cartilage.
  • Cholesterol Levels…Golden berries contain antioxidants and fatty acids—such as linoleic acid and oleic acid—that help lower your cholesterol. levels and establish the cholesterol balance needed to ensure a healthy heart.
  • Diabetes…Eating golden berries can be an effective preventive method and a treatment for Type II diabetes because golden berries contain nutrients that keep you from having high blood sugar levels.
  • Heart…Goldenberries can improve the health of your heart by lowering inflammation of the arteries and blood vessels…as well as blood pressure.
  • Immunity...Golden berries contain significant level of vitamin C…almost 15%DV…that is so important for your immune system.
  • Inflammation…Golden berries contain natural antioxidants and steroids that help calm inflammation caused by such diseases as IBS, arthritis, gout, muscle aches, chronic pain, hemorrhoids, autoimmune diseases, and some neurodegenerative diseases….
  • Liver and Kidney Health...Golden berries can reduce liver scarring and degradation….and also help eliminate toxins by making you pee more and flushing out excess fats, salts, and toxins from the lymphatic system. 
  • Vision…Golden berries contain lutein and beta-carotene that can keep your eyes in top working order as you age and lower your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, vision loss from diabetes, cataracts and other eye diseases.
  • Weight Loss...Golden berries are a good option for people trying to lose weight because they contain a large percentage of your daily nutrients, but hardly any fats or calories….only 53 calories per half cup.

Guava, Guava Do — March 29, 2021

Guava, Guava Do

Next on our walk through the produce aisle…more specifically the fruit section…even more specifcally the tropical fruits..we move on to the guava.

 

 

Guava are native to Mexico, Central America and the northern parts of South America. In fact, archaeological sites in Peru have shown that guavas were cultivated as early as 2500 BC.

Today, India is the one country that produces the most guava per year—about 17,650,000 metric tons of guava per year…followed by China, producing 4,366,300 metric tons.

Guava are oval in shape with rough, light green or yellow-colored skin…measuring anywhere from one to five inches long. The flesh can range from off-white to deep pink, depending on the species…species also indicates whether the guava will be bitter taste or soft and sweet.

Guava trees are small trees that belong to the myrtle family…have tough dark leaves that measure two to six inches long and white flowers.

 

 

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Nutritional Value

Guavas are low in calories…loaded with fiber, antioxidants and potassium, Not only that, one guava contains 90 mg…100%DV vitamin C.

 

 

 

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Health Benefits

Blood Sugar Levels…Guava can improve blood sugar levels, long-term blood sugar control, and insulin resistance….which makes it great for diabetics or those at risk of developing diabetes. Drinking guava leaf tea can lower blood sugar levels by more than 10% for up to two hours after that meal.

 

Cancer…The high levels of antioxidants in guava may help prevent the development and growth of cancer cells.

 

Digestive System…One guava provides 12%DV fiber…meaning that  eating more guavas may aid healthy bowel movements and prevent constipation….as well as reduciong the intensity and duration of diarrhea.

 

Heart…guavas may help protect your heart and even improve heart health.because of the high levels of potassium fiber, antioxidants and vitamins found in guava leaves. Many people use guava leaf extract to help lower blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels…and increase “good” HDL cholesterol…each of which increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Eating ripe guava before meals can lower your blood pressure by 8–9 points…lower your total cholesterol by 9.9%…and increase “good” HDL cholesterol by 8%.

 

 

Immune System…Guavas are one of the richest food sources of vitamin C. In fact, one guava provides about twice the RDI for vitamin C…twice as much as that found in one orange. Vitamin C plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system..reducing a cold’s duration…helping to kill off bad bacteria and viruses that can lead to illness and infections.

 

 

PMS…Taking 6mg guava leaf extract daily may help reduce symptoms of painful menstruation, including cramps.

 

 

Skin…The wide range of vitamins and antioxidants packed into a guava may protect your skin from damage… slowing down its aging process and helping to prevent wrinkles. Guava leaf extract has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that make it effective at killing acne-causing bacteria.

 

 

Weight Loss…Guavas are a filling, low-calorie snack…with only 37 calories…12%DV fiber…and lots of important nutrients….meaning that they may help you feel full and help you lose weight.

Durian Durian — March 22, 2021

Durian Durian

Another “exotic” fruit that I’ve yet to try on our journey to the top of the Raw Foods Pyramid is the durian…considered by some to be “king of fruits” because of its appearance and overpowering odor.

Durian, just like ambrosia, is a topic of debate for many reasons.

Suppoasedly the fruit seems at first to smell like rotten onions, but immediately you prefer it to all other food once you’ve tasted it.

 

 

 

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Characteristics

Availability…Durian can be found in Asian markets in the United States.

Odor…Durian  have a strong  odor….some considering it to have a pleasantly sweet fragrance…while others find the aroma very unpleasant odor—described as being similar to rotten onions, turpentine, pig manure, gym socks,. stale vomit, raw sewage, or skunk spray….and can be smelled from yards away.

In fact, the odor from a durian fruit lingers for several days and has even been banned from certain hotels, subways, airports, and other public transportation services in Southeast Asia  for this reason.

(That makes us all wanna go out and buy one ASAP, right?!)

Price…Prices of durians are relatively high compared with other fruits…typically ranging from $8 to $15 per fruit.

Rind…These oblong or round fruits range in color from green to brown…with pale yellow to red flesh, depending on the species…and have a thorn-covered rind.

Season…The durian is a seasonal fruit…typically available from June to August.

Size,,,The fruit can grow up to a foot long and six inches around…and typically weigh two to seven pounds. The flesh only accounts for about a fourth of the mass of the entire fruit.

Source…Thailand is ranked the world’s number one exporter of durian, producing around 700,000 tons of durian per year…400,000 tons of which are exported to mainland China and Hong Kong. Other countries that are major producers of the durian fruit are Malaysia and Indonesia. The fruit is extremely popular and loved by many in Southeast Asia.

Taste…To those who actually like this fruit, it supposedly tastes like almonds and has a custard-like texture…a uniquely tender and creamy texture…and is not acidic, overly sweet, or overly juicy.

 

 

 

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Nutritional Value

 
Calories 615 kJ (147 kcal)
 
Carbohydrates 27.09 g
Dietary fibre 3.8 g
 
Fat 5.33 g
 
Protein 1.47 g
 
Vitamins Quantity%DV
Vitamin A 44 IU
Thiamine (B1) 33% 0.374 mg
Riboflavin (B2) 17% 0.2 mg
Niacin (B3) 7% 1.074 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5) 5% 0.23 mg
Vitamin B6 24% 0.316 mg
Folate (B9) 9% 36 μg
Vitamin C 24% 19.7 mg
 
Minerals Quantity%DV
Calcium 1% 6 mg
Copper 10% 0.207 mg
Iron 3% 0.43 mg
Magnesium 8% 30 mg
Manganese 15% 0.325 mg
Phosphorus 6% 39 mg
Potassium 9% 436 mg
Sodium 0% 2 mg
Zinc 3% 0.28 mg
 
Other constituents Quantity
Water 65 g
Link to Full Report from the USDA National Nutrient Database
Units μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

 

 

 

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Uses

Durian can be used to make both sweet and savory dishes…sweet as in candy, ice cream,milkshakes, cappucino, candy, honey, cakes…savory as in soup, rice dishes, curry, fish.

 

 

 

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The How

Finding durian…Durian can be found in many Asian grocery stores.

Choosing…Look for light-colored spikes without any dark brown patches or bits of white between the spikes. Shake the durian to make sure that it doesn’t rattles. If it does rattle, the durian is is no longer good to eat. Avoid fruit with dry, shriveled stems.

Dealing with the odor…First run hot water through the durian skin to help remove the smell, Otherwise your hands will smell like durian for the rest of the day.

Cutting the fruit…Place the durian stem side down on a clean cutting surface. Use a large, sharp knife, to make a three inch cut through the thick skin on the top of the durian. Pull back the skin with your other hand as you cut..

Now lay the two halves down on the cutting board and remove the large “pods” of the fruit, using a spoon or your hands, Remove the large, inedible seeds.

Be careful handling the fruit. Its spikes can poke you.

Storing…Set the durians on the counter for a couple of days…or in the fridge wrapped in paper or plasticif you want to make them ripen less quickly. But be warned…if you do store them in the fridge, they will make your fridge (and everything in it stink.

Cooked durian will last a few days in the refrigerator in an airtight container….or in the freezer for up to three months.

Making the Perfect Ambrosia—The Familiar Heavenly Salad Now Made Healthy — March 15, 2021

Making the Perfect Ambrosia—The Familiar Heavenly Salad Now Made Healthy

20141219-ambrosia-vicky-wasik-2.jpg

Ambrosia…the “stuff” on the table on the holiday of every single home in the Deep South where I’m from and that that contained whatever your Mom and grandmother could possibly find to put in it—such as canned sweetened pinrapple, canned Mandarin orange slices, , gooey mini marshmallows, coconut, sugar-soaked maraschino cherriesbananasstrawberries, peeled grapes, and crushed pecans, fruit cocktail…all smothered in some other sort of thick, creamy binder probably processed food—such as mayonnaise, Cool Whip, heavy cream sour creamcream cheesepuddingyogurt, or cottage cheese….and then refrigerated for a few hours or even overnight to allow the flavors to meld.

What a waste of fresh produce perhaps…..not to mention an early introduction to processed foods.

Definitely not a food on the table that an ancient Greek god of mythology would have put on his plate without his mother making him do it.

While there is really no real consensus on what ambrosia should contain, ambrosia drums up memories from the past—either can be a cheap, sensory blast from the past…or a wistful nostalgia for their grandparents’ old recipes.

And there are various questions that you could ask yourself, such as…

  • Is it a dessert or a salad?
  • Should one use coconut or not?
  • What about marshmallows or whipped cream?
  • What variety of fruit should it have?
  • How did it come to exist at all?
  • Why did it become a Southern Christmas tradition?
  • And probably most importantly, how do we keep ambrosia from being a sugar-laden conglomeration of processed foods and sugar?

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Ambrosia and the 1800’s

It’s hard to imagine a time when something as simple as layers of sliced oranges, grated coconut, and a touch of sugar could so delight diners.

Perhaps the first recipe for ambrosia was found in the 1867 cookbook Dixie Cookery: or How I Managed My Table for Twelve Years, written by Maria Massey Barringer.

Her recipe for ambrosia is a simple three-ingredient dish…”Grate the white part of the cocoanut [sic], sweeten with a little sugar, and place in a glass bowl, in alternate layers with pulped oranges, having a layer of cocoanut on top. Serve in ice-cream plates or saucers.”.

People soon began “twanking” the recipe to include anything from sliced pineapple, a little sherry or Madeira, bananas, pineapple, strawberries, orange or lemon juice, cherries, dates, papayas, peaches, and pears.

Recipes for ambrosia were soon found in cooking and household columns of newspapers everywhere. 

The fact that ambrosia became closely associated with Christmas in the South at this time perfectly makes sense for several reasons…

  • Coconuts became more available around the same time, thanks to the newly completed railroads linking the West Coast with the east.
  • Florida orange season began in the late fall, so in December fresh oranges would have just become available in the markets.
  • The sheer novelty of formerly exotic foods was enough to make such a dish special.

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The Making of a Southern Tradition

Even though most cooks continued to use this basic recipe—orange, coconut and sugar—for making ambrosia, many cooks started adding more modern and sweeter components—especially marshmallows.

Although Ancient Egyptians had used marshmallow plants…an herb native to parts of Europe, North Africa, and Asia which grows in marshes and other damp areas…back as early as 2000 BC…surprisingly, they used the marshmallow for medicinal purposes—such as soothing coughs and sore throats and healing wounds.

Eating marshmallows was a privilege strictly reserved for royalty…and the manufacture of marshmallows was limited.

But In the early to mid-1800s, France confectioners began pressing the marshmallow sap in candy molds and marketing this candy as “Pâte de Guimauve”…a spongy-soft dessert made from whipping dried marshmallow roots with sugar, water, and egg whites.

Even so making marshmallows from the sap od the mallow plant was too time-consuming for marshmallows to be affordable to be enjoyed by the average Joe.

But thanks to companies such as Stephen F. Whitman & Son of Philadelphia, marshmallows were introduced to the United States and available for mass consumption…sold in tins as penny candy…and used in a variety of recipes—such as banana fluff.

The Whitman company introduced what most of us refer to as “marshmallow cream” around World War I,

So at this time, the late 1920s to 1930s, people began publishing recipes containing this marshmallow cream all across the country—especially recipes for ambrosia, salads that included oranges, bananas, pineapple, strawberries, along with grated coconut and some orange and lemon juice poured over the top…

Ambrosia soon became associated with holidays around the South…the one dish that no Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner “required.”

 

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The 1970s and 1980s

Back when I was growing up…ambrosia basically was a term used to describe any fruit salad smothered in something so that the fruit was unrecognizable…anything from expansive fruit salad with lots of citrus and non-citrus fruits tossed with coconut…strange, bright orange concoctions made with flavored gelatin, canned whipped cream, and plenty of marshmallows…traditional mixtures of fresh sliced oranges, grated coconut, and a sprinkling of sugar….a bag of sweetened shredded coconut and supremed orange sections, occasionally with a few Maraschino cherries and some little marshmallows for visual interest.

And including a variety of ingredients.

  • Fruits such as cherries, dates, papayas, peaches, pears…
  • Smothering stuff such as mayo, sour cream, marshmallow cream, Coo. Whip, cream cheese…
  • Flavorings such as rum, grenadine, almonds…

 

The Recipe

Obviously you can still make ambrosia out of pretty much anything you darn well want to, but the goal is to make it fresher and to cut back on processed foods…

But here’s a recipe that is a good jumping off point for making heavenly ambrosia…

Ingredients

  • 2 cherimoya, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 6 navel oranges
  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into cubes
  • 1C fresh shredded coconut
  • 1 large banana
  • 4.5oz maraschino cherries, drained well (optional)
  • 1C mini marshmallows
  • ½C pineapple juice
  • 1C vanilla Greek yogurt

Instructions

  • Toss all of the fruit together in a bowl.
  • Let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Stir together juice and yogurt.
  • Add to the fruit.
  • Mix gently until combined.
  • Refrigerate anywhere from thirty minutes to a day or two, but the longer it sits in the fridge, the smooshier the  salad will become…which explains why most of us remember ambrosia as the smooshy gross stuff that we all avoided on the Chr1istmas buffet back home when we were little.

Cherimoya…The What and Why — March 11, 2021

Cherimoya…The What and Why

If you’re like me, there are so many things in the produce section that you walk by and wonder what in the heck is that…and what in the heck do I do with it.

The cherimoya, picrtured above ia probably one of those fruits.

 

 

 

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The Fruit

The cherimoya fruit is a large, green, heart-shaped fruit that is anywhere from four to eight inches long and two to four inches around…similar to a pine cone.

The fruit typically weighs anywhere from five to eighteen ounches, but can reach up to six pounds or more.

The skin of a cherimoya is thin and light green in color….often having overlapping scales. The more scales the skin has, the more seeds it will contain.

The creamy white flesh has a soft, smooth and melting texture like that of a soft-ripe pear…supposedly tastes like a blend of banana, vanilla, mango, papaya, pineapple. pear, strawberry or other berry, apple, and coconut….and can range from anywhere from mellow sweet to tangy or acidic sweet–which honestly doesn’t tell me a darn thing…so I don’t quite know what to expect when it finally comes in with my next Instacart order…

As far as the seeds, the cherimoya contains many hard black, glossy seeds that are about half of an inch long and about half as wide. These seeds are inedible.

 

 

 

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Where are cherimoya grown?

Cherimoya trees are evergreen trees that grow wild in the tropical highlands of the Andes Mountains—countries such as Colombia, Ecuador and Peru….areas that have an altitude between 4,900 and 6,600 feet…average annual temperature about 66 °F…annual rainfall of about 35 inches…and soils with slightly acidic, sandy soil.

However, interestingly enough, Spain is the world’s largest producer of cherimoya today.

The trees can reach thirty feet or more in height.

The leaves of a cherimoya tree are a dull medium green color…and leathery. They can grow anywhere from two to ten inches long…one to four inches wide. They are pointed at the ends and rounded near the stalk.

Cherimoya trees bear very pale green flowers with purple spots that are three centimeters long.

Okay, you probably get the picture` by now…

So let’s move on to far more interesting things…like why it’s good for you…and what to do with it…

 

 

 

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Nutritional Value

The fruit is rich in nutrients, especially antioxidants, 

1.Antioxidants…Cherimoya contains antioxidants—such as flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin C and kaurenoic acid—that can help fight oxidative stress, prevent a range of health problems, and help prevent cardiovascular disease…antioxidants also have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects.

2. Fiber…7.2 grams fiber…Cherimoya is also a good source of soluble fiber…which helps with digestive issues because it adds bulk to stool and helps it move through your digestive tract…weight loss because it makes you feel full longer…and reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, colon cancer and more.

3.  Vitamin B6…0.7mg…33% DV…Cherimoya is a good source of vitamin B6…which helps maintain healthy blood vessels, supports brain function, regulates sleep cycles, reduces blood pressure and is important for mood and ability to focus. 

As far as other nutrients, cherimoya fruits contain…

  • Calories…231
  • Carbohydrates…55.2 grams
  • Protein…5.1 grams
  • Fat…1.9 grams
  • Vitamin C…35.9mg…60% DV
  • Potassium…839mg…24% DV
  • Riboflavin…0.4mg…22% DV
  • Thiamine…0.3mg…19% DV
  • Folate…56.2mg…14% DV
  • Manganese…0.3mg…13% DV
  • Magnesium…49.9mg…12% DV
  • Copper…0.2mg…11% DV 
  • Phosphorus…81.1mg…8% DV
  • Pantothenic acid…0.7mg…7% DV
  • Iron…0.9mg…5% DV

 

 

 

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Health Benefits

Cancer…Cherimoya is rich in antioxidants—such as catechin, epicatechin, and epigallocatechin—that have been shown prevent the growth of cancer cells in test-tube studies and lower your risk of developing certain cancers — especially stomach and colon cancer.

Digestion…One cup of cherimoya offers almost 7.2 grams of dietary fiber…over 17% of the RDI. This fiber helps “poop” move through your intestines, nourishes the good bacteria in your gut, produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs)—such as butyrate, acetate, and propionate—that protect you from inflammatory conditions that affect your digestive tract—such as Crohn’s disease, stomach ulcers, and colitis.

Eye Health…Cherimoya contains lutein—an antioxidant that is importanr for good eye health. Foods that contain lutein can lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, vision loss, and help reduce eye fatigue, glare and light sensitivity.

Heart Health…Cherimoya contains antioxidants, nutrients such as potassium and magnesium, and dietary fiber that are good for your heart. For example, the potassium found in cherimoya reduces high blood pressure in people with hypertension and can lower your risk of a stroke by about 25%.

High Blood Pressure…Cherimoya contains nutrients—such as potassium and magnesium—that help regulate blood pressure. In fact, one cup cherimoya provides 10% and over 6%RDI magnesium…both of which help lower blood pressure and decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Immunity…Cherimoya is loaded with vitamin C…about 60% DV…a nutrient that is important for fighting infections and disease…helping to decrease the duration of the common cold…and preventing several chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer.

Cherimoya also contains several antioxidants—such as kaurenoic acid, catechin and epicatechin—that help promote overall health and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Mood…Cherimoya is an excellent source of vitamin B6. In fact, one cup of cherimoya contains over 30%RDI. Vitamin B6 is important for creating neurotransmitters—such as serotonin and dopamine—which help regulate mood and may help prevent depression.