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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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