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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Know your Fruits - Watermelon

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus, a member of Cucurbitaceae family) is related to the cantaloupe, squash and pumpkin, (plants growing on vines on the ground).

Watermelon refers to both the fruit and plant of a vine-like (scrambler and trailer) herb.

The watermelon fruit, one of the common types of melon, can be round, oblong or spherical in shape. It has a thick / smooth exterior rind (green, yellow, and sometimes white) that are often spotted or striped and a juicy, sweet interior flesh (usually red, but sometimes orange, yellow, or pink).


Health Benefits / Nutrition:

  • Fresh watermelon is relished during hot summer days (when they are the sweetest and of best quality) often as thirst-quenching summer drinks to reduce inflammation and smoothies.
  • Watermelon contains about 6% sugar and 92% water by weight. Watermelon is a good source of antioxidants (to neutralize free radicals) including thiamin, potassium and magnesium.
  • It is an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene (which helps in reducing risk of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, colon cancer including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis).
  • In addition, it is also a very good source of vitamin A and vitamin B6.


img src: wikipedia.org

Varieties

There are more than twelve hundred varieties of watermelon with flesh that is red, orange, yellow, or white. Several notable varieties are included here.

  • Carolina Cross: This variety of watermelon has green skin, red flesh and commonly produces fruit between 65 and 150 pounds.
  • Yellow Crimson Watermelon: This variety of watermelon that has a yellow colored flesh. This particular type of watermelon has been described as "sweeter" and more "honey" flavored than the more popular red flesh watermelon.
  • Orangeglo: This variety of watermelon has a very sweet orange pulp, and is a large oblong fruit with a light green rind with jagged dark green stripes.
  • The Moon and Stars: This variety of watermelon has a purple/black rind with several small yellow circles (stars) and one or two large yellow circles (moon). The flesh is pink or red and has brown seeds. The foliage is also spotted.
  • Cream of Saskatchewan: This variety of watermelon consists of small round fruits, around 25 cm (10 inches) in diameter. It has a quite thin, light green with dark green striped rind, with sweet white flesh and black seeds.
  • Melitopolski: This variety has small round fruits roughly 28-30 cm (11-12 inches) in diameter.
  • Densuke Watermelon: This variety has round fruit with black rind with no stripes or spots.


img src: irbiz.biz

Tips for serving / cutting Watermelon:

Wash the watermelon thoroughly before cutting it. There are several methods of cutting a watermelon, depending on the size & recipe requirements.

  • The flesh can be sliced, cubed or scooped into balls.
  • Watermelon is delicious to eat as is, while it also makes a delightful addition to a fruit salad.
  • Jam, sorbet and juice are some nutritious and delicious things you can make with watermelon.
  • Besides the juicy flesh of the watermelon, both the seeds and the rind are also edible.

info src: wikipedia

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Know your Fruits - Mango

Mangoes belong to the genus Mangifera, consisting of numerous species of tropical fruiting trees in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. The mango is indigenous to the Indian Subcontinent.
Mango is generally cultivated in tropical regions. It is not only used for food, juice, flavor, fragrance and color but also find a place in religious ceremonies and weddings.
The ripe fruit is variable in size and color, and may be yellow, orange, red or green when ripe with a unique taste that varies from variety to variety.
Ripe mango is served as it is, firm-ripe mango makes an excellent salad ingredient.
Ripe mango are also served in fruit compote, as sorbet, ice-cream or mousse.
Unripe mangoes are generally used for canned chutney, pickles.
There are 2 classes of mangoes, low fiber & high fiber.
  • High fiber mamagoes are usually used for juicing.
  • Low fiber varieties are the ones that are usually eaten.


img src: webmd.com

Varieties:
Basically rhere are 2 principal types of mangos: Indian and Indochinese.
  • Varieties of the Indian type typically have monoembryonic (single embryo) seeds and are highly colored fruit.
  • Indochinese type of mangoes have polyembryonic seeds (multiple embryos), fruit usually lacks coloration.

Magoes as used in Indian cuisine:

  1. Mango is known as Amb is a Sindhi, aamba a Marathi, and aam a Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, and Bengali word, "maanga" (unripe) or "maambazham" (ripe) Tamil for 'mango'.
  2. In western recipes of 'Chutney', ripe mangoes are often used, but chutney in the Indian subcontinent is usually made with sour, unripe mangoes and green chilis.
  3. In India, ripe mangoes are often cut into thin layers, desiccated, folded, and then cut.
    These bars, known as aampapdi,' amavat or halva in Hindi.
  4. In many parts of India, people eat squeezed mango juice (called ras) on a variety of bread.
  5. Unripe mangoes (extremely sour) are eaten with salt, and in regions where food is hotter, with salt and chili.
  6. In Andhra Pradesh, the people made the spicy pickle, called Avakaya Pachhadi
  7. In Kerala, ripe mangoes are used in a dish called Mambazha Kaalan.
  8. In Maharashtra, moramba (a kind of preserve, made from jaggery and mango) and aamrus (Pulp /Thick Juice made of mangoes, with a bit of sugar if needed and milk at times) are famous.
  9. A spicy, sweet and sour semi-liquid side-dish called meth-amba is made from unripe mango slices called kairi, jaggery and fenugreek seeds.
  10. In India, mango is used as pickle (aachar), amawat, murraba, amchur, sukhawata & chatni or chutney.
  11. During the hot summer months, a cooling summer drink called "Panha" (in Marathi) and "Panna" (across north India) is made with raw mango.
  12. Mango lassi is made by adding mango pulp to the North Indian yoghurt drink lassi.
  13. The fruit is also used in a variety of cereal products, in particular muesli and oat granola.
  14. Dried and powdered unripe mango is known as amchur (sometimes spelled amchoor) in India and "ambi" (in Urdu).
  15. Mango is harvested young and unripe (vadu maangaa) and used for pickles. When harvested big and unripe, they are used for pickles or eaten raw, especially with salt and red chilli powder.
  16. Mangoes are also harvested ripe and are typically used in making juices, lassis and are eaten raw as well.

Mango as used in Non-Indian cuisine:

  1. In the Philippines, unripe mango is eaten with bagoong. Dried strips of sweet, ripe mango are also popular.Guimaras produces a delicious mango.
  2. In Mexico, mango is used to make juices, smoothies, ice cream, fruit bars, raspados, aguas frescas, pies and sweet chili sauce, or mixed with chamoy, a sweet and spicy chili paste.
  3. Pieces of mango are mashed and used as a topping on ice cream or blended with milk and ice as milkshakes.
  4. In Thailand and other South East Asian countries, sweet glutinous rice is flavored with coconut then served with sliced mango as a dessert.
  5. In other parts of South East Asia, mangoes are pickled with fish sauce and rice vinegar.
  6. Green mangoes can be used in mango salad with fish sauce and dried schrimps.
  7. In Taiwan, mango is a topping that can be added to shaved ice along with condensed milk.
  8. In Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica), mango is either eaten green with salt, pepper and hot sauce, or ripe in various forms.
  9. Ripe mangoes are called manga to differentiate them in Costa Rica.
  10. In Guatemala, toasted and ground pumpkin seed (called Pepita) with lime and salt are the norm when eating green mangoes.
Nutrient and antioxidant properties:
  • Mango is rich in a variety of phytochemicals and nutrients that qualify it as a model "superfruit".
  • The fruit is high in prebiotic dietary fiber, vitamin C, polyphenols and carotenoids.
  • Mango contains essential vitamins and dietary minerals, antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, Vitamin B6, vitamin K and other B vitamins.
  • Mangoes contain essential nutrients like potassium, copper and 17 amino acids.
  • Mango peel and pulp contain other phytonutrients, like pigment antioxidants - carotenoids & polyphenols and Omega 3 & 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Fruit Harvest:
  • Mango fruit matures in 100 to 150 days after flowering. The fruit will have the best flavor if allowed to ripen on the tree.
  • Ripening fruit turns the characteristic color of the variety and begins to soften to the touch.
  • The fruit ripens best if placed stem end down in trays at room temperature and covered with a dampened cloth to avoid shriveling.
  • To speed up the ripening process, place the mangoes in a in a brown paper bag or leave them in the box and keep them at room temperature, and refrigerate them when ripe.


Types of Mangoes found in India
  • Alphonso
  • Langda
  • Himsagar
  • Ratnagiri
  • Devgadh
  • Kesar
  • Batli
  • Begamphuli
  • Rajapuri

Mangoes found across the world:

  • Alice
  • Haden
  • Irwin
  • Keitt
  • Kent
  • Lippens
  • Tommy Atkins
  • Valencia Pride
info src: wikipedia
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Know your Fruits - Orange

An Orange is a type of citrus fruit. Oranges originated in Southeast Asia. The fruit of Citrus sinensis is called sweet orange to distinguish it from Citrus aurantium, the bitter orange.
An orange seed is called a pip. The white thread-like material attached to the inside of the peel is called pith.
Oranges are widely grown in warm climates worldwide, and the flavours of oranges vary from sweet to sour.


img src:citrustreesonline.com



There are various varieties of oranges like Persian orange, Navel orange, Valencia orange and Blood orange.

  • Persian orange: The Persian orange, grown widely in southern Europe.
  • Navel orange: Navel orange, also known as the Washington, Riverside, or Bahie navel generated after single mutation of sweet oranges, where a second orange is developed at the base of the original fruit, opposite the stem. The second orange develops as a conjoined twin in a set of smaller segments embedded within the peel of the larger orange.
  • Valencia orange: The Valencia / Murcia orange is one of the sweet oranges used for juice extraction. It is a late-season fruit, and therefore a popular variety when the navel oranges are out of season.
  • Blood orange: The blood orange has streaks of red in the fruit, and the juice is often a dark burgundy colour. The scarlet navel is a variety with the same diploid mutation as the navel orange.




img src:dallasnews.com


Common usage of oranges:

  • The fruit is commonly peeled and eaten fresh, or squeezed for its juice.
  • It has a thick bitter rind that is usually discarded, but can be processed into animal feed by removing water, using pressure and heat.
  • It is also used in certain recipes as flavouring or a garnish.
  • The outer-most layer of the rind can be grated or thinly veneered with a tool called a zester, to produce orange zest. Zest is popular in cooking because it contains the oil glands and has a strong flavour similar to the fleshy inner part of the orange.
  • The white part of the rind, called the pericarp or albedo and including the pith, is a source of pectin and has nearly the same amount of vitamin C as the flesh.
Products made from oranges include:
  • Orange juice; Frozen orange juice concentrate is made from freshly squeezed and filtered orange juice.
  • Sweet orange oil is a by-product of the juice industry produced by pressing the peel. It is used as a flavouring of food and drink and for its fragrance in perfume and aromatherapy.
  • Sweet orange oil is efficient cleaning agent, used in various household chemicals, such as to condition wooden furniture, and along with other citrus oils in grease removal and as a hand-cleansing agent.
  • The orange blossom, is traditionally associated with good fortune, and was popular in bridal bouquets and head wreaths for weddings for some time.
  • The petals of orange blossom can also be made into a delicately citrus-scented version of rosewater.
  • Orange blossom water (aka orange flower water) is a common part of both French and Middle Eastern cuisines, used most often as an ingredient in desserts.
  • In Spain, fallen blossoms are dried and then used to make tea.
  • In the United States, orange flower water is used to make orange blossom scones.
  • Orange blossom honey, or actually citrus honey, is produced by putting beehives in the citrus groves during bloom, which also pollinates seeded citrus varieties. Orange blossom honey is highly prized, and tastes much like orange.
  • Marmalade, usually made with Seville oranges, pith & pips are separated, placed in a muslin bag and boiled in the juice (and sliced peel) to extract pectin for setting marmalade.
  • Orange peel is used by gardeners as a slug repellent.
  • Orange leaves can be boiled to make tea.

info src: wikipedia

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Know your Fruits - Banana

Bananas are a type of commonly eaten fruit and the herbaceous plant of the genus Musa (family Musaceae), which are cultivated primarily for food and secondarily for the production of fibers including ornamental purposes.
Each individual fruit has a protective outer layer (a peel / skin) with a fleshy edible inner portion. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red. Bananas are classified either as dessert bananas (yellow and fully ripe when eaten) or as green cooking bananas.
Bananas can be eaten raw (both skin and inner part) though some varieties are generally cooked first.
  • In Western cultures, the inside is eaten raw and the skin is discarded.
  • In some Asian cultures, both the skin and the inside pulp are eaten cooked.
  • In most tropical countries, green (unripe) bananas are either fried, boiled, baked or chipped.
  • In addition to the fruit, the flower of the banana plant (banana blossom / banana heart) is used in Southeast Asian and Indian (Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, and Kerala) cuisine, either served raw with dips or cooked in soups and curries.
  • The tender core of the banana plant's trunk is also used in Indian (Telugu, Bengali and Kerala) cuisine, including Burmese cuisine.
  • Bananas fried with batter, is a popular dessert in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
  • Banana fritters served with ice cream is another popular dish.
  • Bananas are also eaten deep fried, baked in their skin in a split bamboo, or steamed in glutinous rice wrapped in a banana leaf, a popular dish in Burma.
Selecting Bananas:
  • Bananas are usually harvested when green and ranges from green to yellow, with brown spots.
  • Bananas should be quite firm & bright in appearance and the peel should not be crushed / cut.
  • Their stems and tips should be intact.
  • Green bananas last more.
  • Yellow and brown-spotted bananas should be consumed within 2-3 days.
Storage of Bananas:
  • It best advised to store bananas at room temperature to complete the ripening process.
  • Do not store green bananas in the refrigerator as it interrupts the ripening process (below 8 degrees Celsius, the fruits will not ripen and will turn black).
  • Ripe bananas can be stored in the refrigerator (peel may become brown, but the pulp will not be affected).
  • Place the banana in a paper wrap (to allow air) with an apple if you need to hasten the ripening process.
  • Bananas can be stored for over 1 month, if freezed. Remove the peel, sprinkle some lemon juice over the pulp (to prevent discoloration) and then freeze in plastic wraps.
Commonly available varieties of Bananas:
  • Red bananas: bananas with green/red peel and pink fruit flesh and taste like yellow bananas. The redder a fruit, the more carotene it contains, known to be healthier than other yellow vaieties
  • Fruit-bananas: normal, yellow bananas (15-30 cm)
  • Apple-bananas: smaller, yellow bananas (8-10 cm), known for faster ripening process
  • Baby-banana (pisang susa): yellow banana (6-8 cm) and sweetest of the banana family
  • Baking bananas: large, green, yellow or red banana (30-40 cm), generaly cooked and not eaten raw.


Health benefits:

Banana is one of the healthiest of fruits and a valuable source of protien & fibre content including vitamins (Vitamin B6, Vitamin C) and minerals (potassium, sodium etc.)
  • High fibre, potassium and sodium content in bananas helps to prevent high blood pressure.
  • High potassium may also prevent renal calcium loss (bone breakdown).
  • In diarrhoea, it works as electrolyte replacement and improves nutrition absorption.
  • Bananas also known to protect from peptic ulcers.
  • Pectin content helps in curing constipation by normalizing movement through the intestine.
  • Carotenoid content has antioxidant effects and protects against night blindness (Vitamin A deficiency).
  • The low glycemic index in unripe bananas is of particular benefit to people with diabetes.
  • Regular consumption of bananas minimizes the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
img src: google
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Know your Fruits - Apple

Apple is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, is a pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, known for its high yields and long storage life.
The tree originated from Central Asia and there are over 7,500 known cultivars of apples, with red, yellow and green varieties.
Apples appear in many religious traditions, often as a mystical / forbidden fruit.



Storage:

  • Commercially, apples can be stored for some months in controlled-atmosphere chambers.
  • For home storage, store apple for approx 2 weeks, at the coolest part of the refrigerator (below 5°C).
  • Several types of apple, have an even longer shelf life.

Use of apple:

  • Apples can be canned, juiced, and optionally fermented to produce apple juice, cider, ciderkin, vinegar, and pectin.
  • Distilled apple cider produces the spirits applejack and Calvados. Apples are also used to prepare apple wine.
  • Apples are an important ingredient in desserts like apple pie, apple crumble, apple crisp and apple cake.
  • They are also eaten baked or stewed, sometimes dried and eaten or re-constituted (soaked in water, alcohol or some other liquid) for later use.
  • Puréed apples are generally known as apple sauce. Apples are also made into apple butter and apple jelly.
  • Apples are also used (cooked) in meat dishes.
  • Toffee apple is a traditional confectionery in the UK, prepared by coating an apple in hot toffee and allowing it to cool.
  • Candy apples (coated in a hard shell of crystallised sugar syrup), caramel apples (coated with cooled caramel) are popular in the US.
  • Apples are eaten with honey at the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah to symbolize a sweet new year.

img src: doh.sd.gov


We believe "An apple a day keeps the doctor away"

  • Apples may reduce the risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer.
  • Apples contain relatively low amounts of Vitamin C as well as several other antioxidant compounds.
  • The fiber content, helps regulate bowel movements and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
  • They also help in controlling heart disease, weight loss and cholesterol.

Some popular varieties of apple across the globe:

  • Braeburn Apple
  • Empire Apple
  • Fuji Apple
  • Gala Apple
  • Ginger Gold Apple
  • Golden Delicious Apple
  • Granny Smith Apple
  • Gravenstein Apple
  • Honeycrisp Apple
  • Jonagold Apple
  • McIntosh Apple
  • Pinata Apple
  • Pink Lady Apple
  • Pippin Apple
  • Red Delicious Apple
  • Rome Beauty Apple
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