Fresh Fruits Delight – D-F

DABAI Canarium odontophyllum from Sarawak, Borneo is a fruit that is best prepared before eating by soaking in warm water until it becomes softer before seasoning it with soy sauce. The yellowish flesh is creamy.

DAMSON PLUM, SATIN LEAF Chrysophyllum oliviforme  small plum like fruits with blue black skins with bloom. The flavour is strong and tart. Grows wild in hedgerows and also commercially availableas it is popularly used as a stewed fruit and as ‘damson cheese’ or wine in England and Europe.

DATES Phoenix dactylifera is possibly the oldest cultivated fruit crop. It grew in Babylonian times 8000 years ago and found in Egyptian tombs also. Date wine is believed excluded from prohibition in Islamic custom. Date palms are male and female – like a harem – with one male to about 50 females. Palms are said to continue to produce for about 80 years. There are plantations now in cultivation in U.S. and Australia for production of dessert fruit.

DATE PLUM, AMLOK, Diospyros lotus from southwest Asia and southeast Europe known to the ancient Greeks as “the fruit of the gods”. Its taste is not surprisingly, a combination of plums and dates. Legend has it that the temptation of the classical heroes to remain with ‘the lotus eaters’ may be reference to this divinely flavoured small fruit that inspires further investigation !

DEWBERRY is of the Rubus genus and similar to blackberries but the fruits are much smaller and sweeter, particularly the mature darker red fruits to black. Properties are similar to blackberry from which it and dozens of other berry varieties are derived. The bush has a trailing habit.  Wild Dewberries are only to be found in the US where they are often considered a nuisance plant and likely to have been sprayed by farmers. Care is needed.

DRAGON FRUIT, PITHAYAS Hylocereus spp There are Yellow and Pink varieties but the large fuschia pink fruit is most common,  covered with pointed green tipped scales like artichoke. Beautifully filled with pearly white flesh dotted with masses of edible black seeds. Flesh is sweet and refreshing, slightly acidic with texture of kiwi fruit.

DUKU Lansium domesticum  is a medium-sized, single-trunked tree that produces long racemes of fleshy flowers and ovoid fruits along the branches and trunk. Each has a thick skin and the internal flesh is segmented into 5-6. The fruits are sweet when really ripe.

DURIAN, DURIO, Durio zibethicus from Borneo and Indonesia This fruit is infamous for its foul aroma but enjoyed raw for its delicious flavour.  It is well known that the fruit that tastes like heaven and stinks like hell. When tasting it is advised to refrain from inhaling. The skin of the large fruit is covered with stubby sharp spikes turning yellow as they ripen. Flesh is white with a texture of rich custard, and a sweet flavour compared with strawberries and cream.

ELDERBERRIES Sambucus nigra The flowers and berries having provided a simple ‘poor man’s food’ because of prolific nature of its habit in Europe. It has been used for food as well as other purposes since prehistoric times.  Buds are pickled. Flowers are used in wine, drinks, and the heads are made into fritters. Tiny blackish berries form under suitable climatic conditions, in clusters after flower head has matured. These have unusual sweetish taste and popularly used in pies and cooked dishes.

ELEPHANT APPLE Dillenia indica from tropical India, Malaysia and commonly grown in northern Queensland as an ornamental shade tree. Round fleshy fruit is mainly used in curries. The acid sepals eaten also.

ENGKABANG Shorea macrophylla  from Borneo, Indonesia and SE Asian countries.Fruit is about the size of a ping pong ball, brownish in colour and has about four to five wings protecting its fruits. Another interesting feature of the fruit is that a matured fruit will rotate before dropping to the ground similar to a landing helicopter. It is mainly used as cooking oil or massage oil after a considerable processing method. It is little known outside its native areas where it is highly valued.

ENGKALA Litsea garciae CHECK from Indonesia. The tree has leaves somewhat like avocado and produces small pink to purplish fruits. The flesh is well liked by the people who have sampled them raw or in dishes used in similar ways as the avocado. The fruit is rounded and flattened slightly with edible pink skins. Creamy flesh surrounds the single seed which has traditional uses for candle and soap making.

FEIJOA Pineapple Guava Feijoa sellowiana from Sth America is of the guava family.Oval fruits are green skinned when unripe and mature a lighter green with the skin thinning slightly. When ripe the flesh is perfumed with an unusual and attractive flavour. Cultivated commercially in N.Z. Rich in vitamin C and iodine.

FIGS  Ficus spp. represent one of the most ancient fruits with fossil figs found in France and Italy dating from the Tertiary period – 65 million years. Cultivation was known as early as 3000 BC in Western Asia where it is still revered and valued as it was in classical times by the Greeks and Romans. An ancient fig tree specimen is still growing in Smyrna believed to be 2000 years old. The entire fig is edible eaten fresh or dried and is highly nutritious. Many varieties exist but is neglected in commercial exploitation for western consumers because of associated harvesting and marketing problems. Many edible species are native to Australia.

FUCHSIA Fuchsia spp originated in South America. Following their beautiful ornamental pendulous flowers the plants produce small fruits. There is little official information of any species except Fuchsia boliviana fruit being edible. However there are those who have trialled them personally and claim that F. regia fruits are sweet. Others report that other species produce fruit that taste like peppery grapes. It is wise to pause before thinking of introducing these into one’s diet.

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