HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
What are you cooking today? Get great advice

Mystery fruit, can you help me identify?

susancinsf Aug 22, 2007 08:38 PM

My daughter has asked me for the name in English of a fruit that she first tasted in the Middle East (in Palestine, where it is apparently common) so she can find it in markets here (well actually, in LA, where she lives)...but she has me stumped based on her descriptions. She and I haven't been able to find it on the internet, but then, all I have to go on is her description. I have the bad feeling that the answer is obvious, and is just alluding me, but maybe not...

Anyway: here are the hints, keeping in mind that daughter's powers of description are not, well, the world's most sophisticated:

1. Grows on a tree (as opposed to a shrub or bush or vine). Common in Israel and Palestine.
2. has more than one pit inside each piece. Pits are similar in shape to an apricot pit, but perhaps smaller, but she doesn't think it is a stone fruit...(ok, this one really has me scratching my head). This makes me think of a fig, but she definitely says they are pits, not seeds...still, possible that they are big seeds, since I can't think of any fruit with more than one pit (?)
3. the fruit is orange-yellow, and about the size of a large pear or just a bit bigger than that. A bit of an oblong shape.
4. delicious taste.
5. Name in Arabic probably begins with a sound that is the equivalent of 'Iss'
6. She hasn't seen it in LA grocery stores, but believes that it may grow wild on trees in SoCal in a few places. (on street, trees or in private gardens, not necessarily in a commercial grove). that said, she had never tasted this fruit until she visited Israel about two years ago.

I admit to being stumped. Only thing I could think of was kumquats, (though I can't remember what type of seeds they have, as I am not that fond of kumquats) but she says those are too small, and besides she has loved kumquats since childhood so would know the name...

Any ideas would really keep me from going crazy trying to figure it out. A photo would be great! Even guesses would help so I could google it. Thanks!

  1. m
    madkitchenscientist Aug 24, 2007 05:14 PM

    Sounds like Loquats to me--although they are smaller here in CA and never sold in markets--rarley in Middle Eastern markets when somone has a tree in their yard. They are commonly found in yards as ornamental trees. The fruit is soft and fleshy not crisp like a pear and has several large smooth seeds. A Polish friend of mine used to live in Libyia and his mother made jam from them.

    1. Chew on That Aug 24, 2007 09:25 AM

      Yea, the etrog didn't seem right because you can't eat them fresh really. Or I don't know anyone that does. Etrogs are used in the Jewish holiday of sukkot - they have a very symbolic meaning that goes along with the shaking of the Lulav.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chew on That
        susancinsf Aug 24, 2007 09:29 AM

        which just goes to show that I am not very observant, since I am not familiar with them in that context :-)

      2. susancinsf Aug 23, 2007 04:08 PM

        Ding, ding, we have a winner! Just got an email from daughter:

        loquat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! that's it!!!!!!!!!!!!


        She is very excited, so thanks to all the hounds who replied...now I am going to tell her she should post on the LA board to find out where to purchase them in LA...

        4 Replies
        1. re: susancinsf
          torty Aug 23, 2007 04:48 PM

          I'm surprised because the loquats I see all over neighborhood trees in Los Angeles have a shiny rounded pits (like a polished bead) and I have never seen one the size of a pear. Currently the season is over.

          1. re: torty
            susancinsf Aug 23, 2007 04:52 PM

            well, I did warn the board about her powers of description (though I can't tell from your post whether the ones you have seen are bigger or smaller than a pear, ?)....I will warn her that they aren't currently in season (which is?)

            1. re: susancinsf
              rds246 Aug 23, 2007 06:40 PM

              you can find them in farmers markets in may/early june. I've never seen 'em at a grocery store though...

          2. re: susancinsf
            vvvindaloo Aug 24, 2007 05:35 PM


          3. lanersg Aug 23, 2007 01:13 PM

            Not sure if kumquats are the same as loquats but they grow in the Middle East and it sounds quite similar.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lanersg
              Louise Aug 24, 2007 04:51 PM

              Completely different.

            2. v
              vanessao Aug 23, 2007 01:04 PM


              1. m
                milklady Aug 22, 2007 10:24 PM

                I would also think loquat, but loquats in my experience are smaller. An etrog is very citrusy.

                2 Replies
                1. re: milklady
                  susancinsf Aug 22, 2007 10:30 PM

                  which is my only doubt about the etrog. She didn't describe it as citrusy, or having that type of a peel...now I am also starting to lean loquat. Will let you all know and thanks for the leads!

                  1. re: susancinsf
                    Ruth Lafler Aug 23, 2007 09:34 AM

                    It also appears that etrog can't be eaten fresh -- it's a form of citron that's eaten cooked, so it seem unlikey that would be it.

                2. vvvindaloo Aug 22, 2007 09:34 PM

                  They do sound like loquats, kobe...wow, good call, even if it's not right!

                  1. k
                    kobetobiko Aug 22, 2007 09:21 PM

                    Could that be loquats?


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kobetobiko
                      susancinsf Aug 22, 2007 10:08 PM

                      hmm...dont think the trees are big/tall enough...She has described 'reaching up to pick the fruit right off the tree' and she is fairly tall...

                      no, I take that back. Just re-read it and 3 to 4 meters is tall enough. I misread it the first time. Will forward that link along too, thanks!

                    2. w
                      Whippet Aug 22, 2007 09:17 PM


                      1. k
                        kashavarniske Aug 22, 2007 09:16 PM

                        sounds like an esrog. look in wikipedia for a great definition. grows heavily in the mideast and fits that description.


                        3 Replies
                        1. re: kashavarniske
                          Whippet Aug 22, 2007 09:26 PM

                          But esrog are more greenish than orange, right?

                          1. re: kashavarniske
                            susancinsf Aug 22, 2007 10:15 PM

                            we may have a winner! (and yes, looks more yellow than orange to me, but like I say, her powers of description aren't the best...). and the Arabic name is basically a cognate of the Hebrew so esrog or etrog sounds right...anyway, I am going to forward the link to her and will report back! Thanks!

                            1. re: susancinsf
                              KTFoley Aug 23, 2007 12:19 PM

                              Could probably rule the esrog in or out rather quickly by asking whether she observed thorns when she was picking them from the tree? I read that this fruit comes from a thorny plant.

                          2. z
                            ziggylu Aug 22, 2007 08:52 PM

                            Some type of mango maybe?

                            Show Hidden Posts