Thursday, 11 December 2008

One Thing You Didn't Know About Fruit

20+ things here actually. But hopefully there'll be one thing you didn't know before. If not, guess you're a bit of a smartypants!

I'm eating just as much fruit as I did in the summer, if not more. Current passions are persimmons and cherimoya, and, to think, if I hadn't become a raw fooder I'd know nothing of the delights of these (and people ask if the raw food diet's boring...!)


Voted raw fooders' favourite fruit in international poll

If using in a recipe, soak in lemon juice first and they won't brown.

According to David Wolfe, northern Europeans tend to like green apples and southern Europeans tend to like red apples.

Apple pips contain cyanide, but in such small amounts we'd be unlikely to experience any ill-effects. In fact, recent research suggests that the cyanide and Vitamin B17 present in pips can fight cancerous cells when coming into contact with them.


Why are bought 'fresh' apricots (usually) tasteless? Because they're picked too soon. Even when ripened at home they won't taste very 'apricotty'. Organic, sulphurless (dark brown), sun-dried apricots, soaked, are closer to 'the real thing'.


To ripen a hard avocado, place in a paper bag (or envelope) with an apple. The ethane gas that ripens the apple will result in a ready-to-eat avocado within 2-3 days.


Bananas should only be eaten ripe, after starches have turned to sugars (easier for the body to digest). I generally find a banana has a good flavour when it's a strong yellow with just a few brown speckles on it. As a banana changes from yellow to spotty, starch reduces from 25% to 5%. Some raw fooders like them very spotty, but I have generally found that bananas from UK supermarkets left to go very spotty do not taste good (and felt quite unwell after eating some once).

Bananas can be stored at room temperature for a few days and in the refrigerator for several weeks (the refrigeration may darken the skins, but they should be fine inside).


When are they ripe? When they 'give', a little, at at least one end and a sweet aroma emanates from the outside. Stores will often mark them 'ripe' before this stage, but if they don't 'give' at all, they will probably not be ripe. They may taste pleasant, but will be so much softer and sweeter when ripe. If they give just a tiny bit, in my experience sometimes they will be good and sometimes not.

Cantaloupe and honeydew (and probably Charentaise, but the USDA Nutrient Database doesn't list them) melons are one of the few fruits high in sodium.

Cantaloupes are known as rockmelons in Australia.

For more on cantaloupe-type melons, see my article 'Mellifluous Melons' here.


'Custard apple' is the generic term for this sort of fruit. Cherimoya is a variation/hybrid of the custard apple.

I haven't seen the 'bumpy skin' custard apples (as in the pic) in the UK, but supermarkets (eg Tesco and some branches of Waitrose) and ethnic markets often sell cherimoyas in the Autumn (which look a little like the ones in the pic but smoother on the outside).

They tend to be sold hard, to ripen at home, and are ready to eat when they give a little on pressure (and are so delicious - if you haven't tried one, please do!)

To eat, halve, removing the stalk that extends into the fruit. Scoop out flesh-and-pips using spoon, discarding pips. Sounds fiddly, but it IS worth the trouble.

(The 'bumpy skin' custard apples - I last had them in Thailand - have firmer flesh, so can be broken apart with hands, and there's a brown 'pith' that tastes a little like cooked crumble!)


When soaking, rather than immersing in water, rest in just a little water and cover for a few hours. This will preserve sweetness, flavour and nutrients.


Legend has it that if a tiger is faced with the choice of eating a man or a durian, he'll go for the durian (but I wouldn't put this to the test).

Test of ripeness: the durian should have a definite aroma - wonderful, awful... - reactions vary! If there's no aroma, it's very underripe. If the aroma is very strong, it may be overripe (the flesh inside may be slightly fermented).

Pick up the durian (carefully...) and shake. If there is no movement at all inside, it's underripe. I've eaten durians where there hasn't been movement, and they've been...OK, quite good, but not the amazing experience they can be when the flesh is very soft and very sweet. If there's a little movement, it's just right.

Durian is a climacteric fruit, that is, it ripens off the tree. If you're not sure whether the durian is quite ripe, might be worth leaving it a few days in the sun. If it gets to the points where it starts to split open a little of its own accord, it's definitely ripe. But, be careful. If the distinctive smell becomes a strong stench, then it could be over-ripe and the flesh may be a little brown and fermented.


Voted raw fooders' least favourite fruit in international poll Aaah....


Unlike canteloupe and charentaise, honeydew melons can be hard on the outside when ripe (although there are different types - some soften). Shake the melon. If you can hear a faint knock/rattle that means the seeds are loose and it's (probably...) ripe.

For more on honeydew melons, see my aricle 'Mellifluous Mellons', here.


Vary tremendously, in size and juiciness! Be careful with recipes that say 'juice of half a lemon' rather than giving the quantity in tablespoonsfuls. A small not-very-juicy lemon may yield 1-2 tablespoonfuls. But a large, juicy one can give six!


Ripe limes are yellow, not green, so buy the palest ones you can find, as they'll be the juiciest.

Limes need to be refrigerated, as kept at room temperature the outsides will go rock-hard after a day or two, due to the low oil content of the peel as compared with that of other citrus fruits.

MANGO sell a device for cutting mangos,'s actually rather good! It neatly bypasses the stone, cutting two 'cheeks' and a central section.

For mango cubes, make a 'mango porcupine'. Take a cheek and score through, criss-crossing. Then turn the cheek inside out and, voila...cubes!


Most of the calcium is in the white pith.


David Wolfe believes fiery papaya seeds are good to eat as they 'burn out parasites'. Natural Hygiene on the other hand tells us that the taste indicates 'not fit for human consumption' and that the seeds are in fact toxic. So take your pick.

Ripe papayas can be various colours, but the small ones generally sold in the UK are yellowy-orange when ripe. They may still be ripe with some green on but, if there's a lot of green, best to leave them a few days, by the window, until they soften and change colour. Most will ripen; be patient. I have had large papayas that have been ripe when green.

Some people dislike papayas, and, if you're one of them, please give them another chance. Strangely, the ripe papayas I had once in Thailand did not taste good at all - slightly unpleasant even. But all the ripe papayas I've had in the UK, of whatever size, have been delicious. There is a 'distinctive' smell that some find unpleasant. I've been informed by a grower of various type of papaya that this is nothing to do with freshness, as some claim, but simply to do with the type of papaya - some have the smell, some don't.


The persimmon family includes various fruit, including the 'chocolate sapodilla' that I have heard wonderful tales of but have never had the pleasure of trying.

Varieties available in the UK include: kaki (large persimmons), 'large persimmons' (that aren't kaki), and sharon fruit.

Some people think persimmons taste bitter. There is apparently one variety that doesn't taste good, but I've met more than one person who claimed not to like persimmons but was then converted on trying a ripe (sweet) one. They're often sold hard in the shops, but should soften and be ready to eat after a few days.

If your persimmons are stubbornly refusing to soften, try this: apply gentle pressure to the persimmon with the pad of your thumb until you feel it soften underneath. Work all round the persimmon, 'massaging' it until it feels like an over-ripe tomato. It's then ready to eat! (I discovered this by accident after waiting, it seemed, forever, for a batch of sharon fruit to ripen). My 'method' has worked very well to date with organic kaki and non-organic sharon fruit. It didn't work with some non-organic 'large persimmon' from Tesco. If the persimmon doesn't 'give' easily with massage, then leave it a few more days.


Pineapples are not (usually) ripe unless there is at least some gold/brown colouring, the base is fragrant, AND the centre leaves pull out easily. I found this out after purchasing a pineapple from Waitrose labelled 'perfectly ripe' and experiencing a burning sensation on the tongue. So, don't trust what the label says. Always apply the 'leaf' test. If in doubt, don't buy, and don't assume that it will ripen if left for a few days, as pineapples are 'non climacteric', meaning that they don't ripen once picked.

Pineapples were so named because the sailors who 'discovered' them thought they looked like pine cones.


The best watermelons have red (sometimes yellow) flesh, and black seeds. Avoid pale pink anemic-looking ones with few/no seeds - they're generally lacking in flavour. When is a watermelon ripe? When it can be tapped and gives a 'hollow' sound (although not easy to know what 'hollow' is when all the watermelons on the shelf sound the same.... )Also look for a large yellow patch which is said to show that the melon's been resting on the earth for a long time....

And you'll know it's ripe if it virtually falls apart on the first cut of the knife. If you have to cut right through to separate the halves, it's not ripe. It might taste 'OK', but nowhere near as amazing as it could taste.

For more on watermelons (and more tests of ripeness) see my article 'Mellifluous Melons', here.


Are you a fruit-lover? Fancy coming to an all-you-can-eat durian party, where you can listen to Dr Doug Graham and Prof Rozi Graham speak, and meet lots of other raw fooders (even me)?

Check out the 80/10/10 Winter Solstice Party Sat Dec 20th, Sussex, UK at


Mila said...

thanks for this deB! insightful as always.
I have never tried a Chermoya. i have seen them..but never knew what they would taste like...but if you say they are good...they've got to be! ^__^

Debbie Took said...

Hi Mila

Like durian, one of those things you have to try! (But I haven't met anyone who doesn't like cherimoya yet...)

Mila said...

yes....durian is another. ^____^