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Do you use any of these very strange fruits? - moved from Home Cooking board

I found this article. "Ten of the World’s Strangest Fruits" http://www.divinecaroline.com/22145/8...

There are a couple of them that I have at least heard of, durian and starfruit. Have you ever used any of these fruits?

Here is a list:

Pitaya (Dragon Fruit)
Carambola (Starfruit)
Kiwano (African Horned Melon)
Custard Apple
Synsepalum dulcificum (Miracle Fruit)
Ugly Fruit

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  1. Yes to Ugly Fruit as an alternative to grapefruit.
    Yes to starfruit as a nice addition to fruit salad or to decorate a plate.

    I've eaten dragon fruit and durian is a very acquired taste (that I have not acquired).
    Most of these are tropical fruits and not readily available in North America.

    1. Dunno if "used" is the right word, but I eat just about everything listed on that list with the exception of the now-infamous so-called "miracle fruit".

      3 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        I don't think Hank meant infamous Acai/ Mangosteen MLM products as "Miracle Fruit". He's talking about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_... or http://mberry.us/

        1. re: Charlesnl7

          Yes, I know. I've never tried it, despite it's supposed magical powers.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Let me know if I can help out if you're interested. I'm the founder of mberry and we love sharing the magic :)

            if you have twitter message me @mymberry or just shoot me an email charles@mberry.us and I'll make sure we hook you up.

      2. I have used Carambola [starfruit] thinly sliced in fruit salads more for appearance as I don't find the taste that great. I have also used Ugly Fruit - a citrus fruit that I like. I have seen custard apple and miracle fruit but most of the others are not available in our stores.

        1. That dragon fruit is beautiful. I think if I saw a great horned African melon, I would probably run the other way. I think I might get a small spoonful before I ran. I have seen the starfruit at the grocery store.

          1. Pitaya (Dragon Fruit) - Yes. Very pretty but not real flavorful. Refreshing in hot climates.
            Durian - Nope. Can't get past the smell.
            Carambola (Starfruit) - Yes. Again, pretty but not a strong flavor. Nice in fruit salads.
            Rambutan - Yes. Delicious! One of my alltime favorites. Yum.
            Kiwano (African Horned Melon) - Nope.
            Custard Apple - No.
            Synsepalum dulcificum (Miracle Fruit) - Nope.
            Ugly Fruit - Nope.
            Cherimoya - Nope.
            Physalis - Nope.

            1. Most of those were easy to come by when I lived in Hong Kong. Now, living in the American south, I'm not likely to get a really high-quality starfruit or dragon fruit when they were picked two weeks ago and shipped across two continents to get to my local Kroger, so mostly I avoid them now. Dragon fruit doesn't taste like much, and I can't say I've been blown away by my ugly fruit or starfruit experiences.

              You'd have to pay me pretty big bucks to eat durian. I don't care if Tony Bourdain does love 'em, they smell like ammonia and onions. Yuck.

              1 Reply
              1. re: LauraGrace

                I just recently had my first experience with Pitahaya, having a few over a period of a few days while I was in Mexico. I bought a few on the same day, and found that there was a very short window of ripeness during which they tasted good - they were slightly sweet, tropically tart on the good days. Like you said, the other days, they were pretty blah.

                Have had carambola (a lot) and cherimoya (a couple of times) also.

              2. Regularly I don't use any of them. However, if I see some good-looking star fruit I will buy them and eat them sliced. Also, every year at the science center we have a brain awareness week...one of the most popular demonstrations (for kids AND parents) we do that week is with miracle fruit and lemons.

                1. I happened to see a recipe using custard apples just recently
                  I had never heard of them. I suppose in some parts of the world our (USA) fruits are novelties.

                  1. I've used dragon fruit, durian, starfruit, rambutan and custard apple.

                    Dragon fruit is pretty mild and reminds me a little bit of kiwi, but milder and mealier. To eat it, you cut in quarters lengthwise and peel off the skin by hand. It grows on long cactus like tendrils.

                    Durian has a cloying stench to it. I've had it in other dishes, and deep fried. They sell it in season in the grocery stores here, in large piles with thick oven mitts to handle, and you can smell it when you walk in the door.

                    Starfruit isn't really worth eating unless you can get it local and fresh. I had it in North America and found it rather bland, if pretty. However, if you get it locally and ripe it has a lovely sweet perfumey taste and is incredibly juicy.

                    Rambutan is a lot like longan or litchee, but a little bigger. I usually see it used in Vietnamese or Thai cooking, particularly desserts.

                    Custard apple (which is called Buddha's head fruit in Chinese) is delicious when ripe - creamy and sweet. You break it into pieces starting at the stem, and eat around the seeds.

                    1. Dragonfruit...bland crunch okay in fruit salad
                      Durian ..no thank you
                      Starfruit ...a popular juice in S. America
                      Rambutan, have not tried
                      Kiwano, have not tried but I see them from time to time in Calif
                      Custard Apple. Looks different than what I call a Custard Apple (Sapote)
                      Miracle fruit.. no
                      Ugly..yes it's basically a grapefruit
                      Physalis..popular in Hawaii as Poha Jam, had it dried in Peru as a snack

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mlgb

                        I've had everything on the list except the miracle fruit. I will say in honesty I'm not a big fan of a lot of them, I find dragonfruit a little mucilagenous ("slimy") for my taste. I've had durian and while it did not make me sick, it's not something I'd go out of my way to eat again (it sort of tasted to me like a mixture of vanilla ice cream and french onion soup). Starfruit I find a little weak to be interesting. I like Rambutan a lot, though privately I keep hoping someday someone will breed a "freestone" version so that I can stop getting bits of the pit in my teeth.) Kiwano is another one I find long on apperance, short on taste (to me its sort of like having a bowl filled with the inner part of a lot of cucumbers.) I find Pysalis a little sour for me. Custard apples and Cherimoyas I do like, though to be honese we dont get a lot of custard apples around me and givne that they are usually smaller than the cherimoyas sizewise while having rougly the same number and size of seeds (and a much thicker skin) and the two taste more or less the same to me, I usally think the cherymoyas are a better value, dollar wise. Ugly fruit I am particualrly fond of and the only one I could be said to "use" (that is do something with besides eating it out of hand) In thier season I often juice them for breakfast (In fact I just got an oversized hand juicer specifcally becuse it looked big enough to hold an ugly) An drink that in lieu of OJ (I find it less acidic than OJ and therefore easier on my throat and stomach)

                      2. I haven't tried any of the new fruits. Over the past decade stores are displaying more and more fruits and vegetables that I don't know what they are. I always assumed they were there for the immigrants, like the plantains. Not something my mother would have bought.

                        Or could it be that they are just more available now, especially with so many fruits imported from far off Chile?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: GraydonCarter

                          Living in far north Qld, Australia, tropical fruits in the masses.....
                          Unless picked fresh, dont bother.....local produce is the only way
                          Love silkiness of the custard apple
                          Rumbutan.... beautiful, fresh ,clean, this may seem odd but the texture takes me to " gummi bears" .... also used in a thai dishes....bit like the lychee as said by"tastesgoodwhatisit"....
                          Dragon fruit....I was blown away just by the colour....what a stunning fruit...texture of a kiwi, pity the flavour not as intense
                          DURIAN.....eeewww, looks like a huge pussy growth.....dirty socks...not for me
                          Our wet season is nearly here, by january we will be picking mangoes from our tree as well as pawpaw ( an aquired taste) especially the red pawpaw.....mmmmmm

                        2. I have eaten rambutans in SE Asia; they're good. In this country, I have eaten cherimoyas--very tasty. Cut it open and eat with a spoon. I've found starfruit kind of tasteless--has more visual appeal than anything else.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: PAO

                            I too used to eat rambutans a lot when I lived in Thailand. Have never seen them here.

                            Durian...I made myself taste it once. It tasted to me just like it smells - horrible.

                          2. Boring Personal Paragraph (You can skip this and proceed to the answer to your question):

                            Devouring every odd looking fruit we had never eaten seemed like a good way to spend a day to my comrades. We browsed the Thai Store, Produce Market, Farmer's Market, and gentleman under the tent by the bridge, snatching up anything odd, like a game show. We took the crinkly bags and cardboard boxes full of randomness to the old airfield park, and threw a picnic blanket down by a jet. The old folks at the park kept turning around in the bleachers to give us disapproving glances. We we started hacking open the yellow durians with chef knives and they just frowned like, "Back in my day, teenagers would just drink heavily and get into knife fights with rival gangs." Like as if nothing a young person could do was worse than eat fruit; which gave us these big purple smiles.

                            The Answer to Question:

                            Among the things we acquired were durians and dragon fruit.

                            Dragon Fruit: Very awesome. It's two kinds of crunchy, ultra purple, looks ridiculous, and tastes kinda melon, kinda strawberry. The taste is faint; I could see an unripe one being pretty tasteless.

                            Durian: This is what disappointment tastes like. I'd heard about how good it is: strawberries, cream, custard, banana, almond. My first comrade clumsily hacked open the durian and took a bite, "Tastes . . . like strawberries. Like strawberry yogurt that doesn't have sour."

                            My second comrade takes the yellow spiky thing and cuts out a big section. "Oh, that's orange sherbet. Don't bogart it," he says while I'm carefully taking out a piece.

                            I get the perfect unblemished lump of creamy goodness and plop it in my mouth . . . and it tastes 100% like old fish. I slowly chew, grimacing, while I hand the fruit back. I'm thinking, "This has to get better right, strawberries, sherbet," and the chewing brings out the smell.

                            I can start to smell the trashcan full of odors spilli of the fruit one by one. Moldy oranges, eggs, more fish, armpits, green fuzz, shrimp behind the stove. I finally have to stop chewing. "Don't spew, if you can't handle it," says the second comrade laughing as he takes another bite.

                            I run and spit pieces of it furioursly into a trashcan, childlike, "P'tou p'chew pft pft p'chew," and chug Tamarind soda, and scream out, "That DID NOT taste like a strawberry, ONE HUNDRED percent fish."

                            Walking back, I notice their faces are starting to crinkle. I laugh. The second comrade chokes out, "We're starting to smell it," and begins walking calmly to the trash can.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Altarbo

                              Funny funny funny, Yes, so shrimp behind the stove!

                            2. I use the Pitaya alot, it is a strange and exotic fruit but when you make certain dishes with it, the flavors are very pronounced and enhanced. I have a dish in my restaurant that is a homemade pitaya icecream. Because it is a sour"ish" fruit you have to balance it out with a decent amount of sugar or another sweetener such as agave nectar which really brings out the flavors. Its always good to just experiment with new ingredients, one good idea that you can use is a pitaya based meringue

                              1. We just bought a Kiwano/horned melon at our local grocery store. My daughter loves fruit and has been eyeing it up for a while now and finally begged me to buy it. I told her at $4 for an apple-sized melon she had better like it. :) She liked the flavor, sweet & sour, but it was not easy to eat and had a slimy, lime green, seed-filled interior. I don't think we'll be purchasing it again just to eat - maybe for a special recipe though.

                                1. Some of these look more interesting than they taste. Star fruit, for example, which I always found bland and watery. But if you can find it, thin slices will pretty up a salad.

                                  Occasionally bought dragon fruit in Chinatown, Honolulu, where it was lots cheaper than in supermarkets. Pleasant flavor, but nothing to write home about. Still, anything that looks like a Martian artichoke on LSD can't be all bad. Love how the little black seeds look.