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May 24, 2011 12:45 PM

Chinatown fruit report - new for the 2011 season [old]

Hi all,
I posted about lychees becoming available FINALLY this weekend here: and MVNYC said that the old fruit report thread was too long at this point. There is a ton of super information on that thread ( but in the interests of keeping things current, let's play here from now on.
Last week - loquats, tons of mangoes, lots of lychees, rambutans, mangosteen, not as many Mexican or other berries. Any other sightings?

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  1. Where did you see mangosteens? They're my favorite fruit, but they're so hard to find not frozen. I was in Asia for a few months a couple years ago and took the opportunity to gorge on them then, knowing that the ones we get here are usually such a disappointment.

    As for lychees, my Dad bought a few pounds last weekend. Apparently, they weren't his first score of lychees for the season. He had already polished off a couple pounds during the week. I was lucky enough to score the few handfuls I pilfered from his bowl! hahah

    10 Replies
    1. re: psylocke62

      Several stands (including my favorite, the one at the cornes of Mulberry and Canal) have them. $9.00/lb, looks like 2+ lb bags. Not previously frozen as far as I can tell, perhaps irradiated though.

      1. re: buttertart

        I'd say irradiation is almost certain. I have a habit of sticking the pits from whatever fruit I eat in pots when I am done (especially the tropical stuff from Ctown, and to this date, the mangosteens are the only one from which I have NEVER gotten a tree.
        There is actually a little trick for telling if the fruit has been frozen, push on it a little. Since the frozen fruit isn't allowed to get fully ripe before it's frozen when it thaws it returns to that state. Until recently I though that was what all mangosteens felt like, I simply assumed you needed to saw them open with a heavy knife to get at the insides) It's basically the same color as the ripe stuff but unlike the ripe stuff, it is still rock hard. If some of the fruit has a little give the bag was not frozen (the fruit is usally a little underripe even in this case, so most of it will be hard here as well) and the flavor will be a little better. Oh and if the insides of the fruit are yellow thow that one out, that means the sap got inside, and the sap tastes terrible and is hightly staining (it may actually be mildly poisionous, magosteens are a close relative of the source of the toxic yellow pigment gamboage).

        1. re: jumpingmonk

          As always, very valuable insight, thank you. The inside of the peel of the truly fresh ones is the most glorious color pink I've ever seen, would really love a dress that color.

          1. re: buttertart

            I sometimes get the same feeling about the shade of a ripe old style greengage though a tie in my case (I'm a guy after all).

            1. re: jumpingmonk

              Oh one other thing I forgot, not only do I still have the Jackfruit trees I planted last season, one of them is so big it's beginning to get the leaves of a mature plant (when Jack trees are young they have oval leaves with long points on the end and a lot of stiff hairs on the bottom (the leaves will actually stick like velcro to clothing) as the tree grows it starts to make leaves with lobes and rounder tips.) Just 40 more years (and a house with rooms with a 60' roof and I'll have my own fruit supply.!

              1. re: jumpingmonk

                hmmm, now i want to plant jackfruit trees...but i don't have 60' ceilings either...i wonder if i could plant some seeds in Central Park and see what happens :)

                1. re: Simon

                  Hard to say. All of the big buildings do tend to keep a lot of the heat in, so NYC is technically about a half to full zone higher than it should be for it's latitude, so I've seen things growing there casually that really shouldn't around here, like date palms poking out of the city planters (the result of someone spitting thier date stones into a public pot). and other (potted) palms coming to fruit around resturaunts and a whole wall of producing oranges around union square (though those were trifoliates (like the big one outside the Bronx Botanical Garden Gift shop) and so are cold hardy enough that they would grow even if they weren't in the city (the fruit tastes terrible though) . But my gut tells me that being in zone 7-7b will not be good enough for a plant whose home turf is sometihng along the lines of zone 25 or so (I dont even know what the zone lines for the tropics are.
                  Even if it did work, simply putting the pits in the ground likey would produce no results. When I said "I stuck the pits in a pot" that was a bit of an lie, doing that and they'll just get moldy and die (all that fruit juice is a mold magnet) To do one ( If you want a houseplant sized one, like mine is currently).....
                  1. Take about 12-20 jackfruit pits, no cut ones (not every one grows readily). Wash them thorughly and leave them somwhere airy to dry off a little for a week or so.
                  2. in the mean time get a few re-sealable plastic containers (the plastic ones chinese takeout main dishes now often come in are great for this, if they've been through the diswasher and are clean) and a quantity of jiffy pots (those little flat expanding peat discs you can get at garden stores).
                  3. after a week the outside skins on the seeds shoud have beocme off white to yellow. push on them until the crack then carefully peel the seed coats off (this is not wholly neccary, but will remove any traces of frult left.
                  4. put the jiffy pots in the containers (a standard container seats about 7-8) and hydrate them by pouring water on top. Dont worry if there is still some water in the bottom of the container when you are done)
                  5. look at the peeld seeds you will see a bump on one end, under the brown underskin push the seeds with that side on the bottom into the pots. you do not need to get the whole seed under the ground (in fact you can't with a peat pot, and really don't want to)
                  6. put the top on the containers (do NOT poke holes in the top) and place somehwhere warm (if this is autum a radiator top works great).
                  7. Every week or so lift the top and see how they are doing. If any are moldy discard (if there is mold in the pot but the seed still feels firm, you can often simply wipe the mold away) when the bit of the seed that's still over the top of the soil goes from yellow to green, or when a sterlized pin stuck in it draws white latex sap. they've germinated. Transfer the jiffy pot into a standard flowerpot full of potting soil, removing the plastic net around it (if as often happens, the bottom root has grown though the net simply cut around the base of the Jiffy and leave the bottom on, it wont hurt the plant) The shoot shoud show up in about another three weeks.
                  This method works on most tropical fruit pits you would find in Ctwn. Ive done it on lychees, whgich have beautifly pink leaves when they are young (on thingh though , if you are doing from seed, you can't do the "chicken tounge ones, those skinny pits are aborted and sterile) It works with rambtans too though getting one of those to grow is a lot harder (a lot of rambutans are still irradiated, while almost no lychees are, so finding fetile ones is a lot harder). Probaby the best one to work with in NYC would be yuzu (that Japanese citrus that costs so much). they can take temps dow to -5c (which means that in NYC you can actually leave them out throgh the winter, if you remember to wrap them up when it gets really cold) and can cofortably reach full fruting size in a 5 gallon pot (like a lot of people grow tomatoes in on their patio) It will even fruit during the winter, though to do that, you'll need to practice hand pollination (unless you fill you apartment over the winter with bees!) A lot of citruses will work well indoors, kumquats, kalamansi, maybe (as I mentioned I have yet to see fresh kalamansi, and there are at least three citruses that bear that common name) key limes (though those can have nasty thorns). etc.

                  1. re: jumpingmonk

                    I've literally done the stick pit in pot and got sprouting mango, persimmon, pummelo, cactus pear, guava, and papaya and that weirdo fruit we discussed here before sapodilla. I don't expect any fruit from any of these but it's rather cool to watch these grow. The persimmon is really taking off and I have high hopes for the mango (champagne) getting even bigger -- it's currently ~ 6 inches and continuing to sprout. Given the thread above, I may try a lychee seed.

              2. re: jumpingmonk

                I want a dress greengage color too. Friends in northern California (he's from Manila) had a kalamansi tree and pitchers of kalamansi ade were staples for them.

          2. re: buttertart

            If they haven't been frozen, they are likely irradiated. Reminds me of this article from a few years back: Funny to know that it's taken 3-4 years to see mangosteens more frequently, even though they're still awfully expensive.

        2. what i'd really to see is jackfruit, w/ each tulip-like piece harvested and sold in bags, like they do in Thailand...the way i've seen it in Chinatown, they slice the whole thing like a ham, which is awful...

          4 Replies
          1. re: Simon

            A few of the dealers on Mulberry and Baxter sell it pre cleaned as well,in plastic pint containers (like the ones they pack takeout soup in.

            1. re: jumpingmonk

              thanks jumpingmonk...that is great news...i may head down there tomorrow :)

              1. re: Simon

                You see it a lot lately, the lady on Mulberry at Canal had it last week.

                1. re: buttertart

                  wow, that's great...between this news and the opening of Zaab-Elee, i feel like i really moved back to NYC at the perfect time...

          2. The chicken-tongue lychees are really a lot better than the regular loose ones - my 2 lbs had a few that had presumably fallen off the twigs. Not sure if they're worth the big jump in price, but they are more succulent and have a lot more flesh.

            6 Replies
            1. re: buttertart

              Can you explain the visual difference between these two types of lychees?

              I wish I had bought cherries in Chinatown today instead of shelling out $6.99 per pound at Whole Foods for terrible red cherries.

              1. re: erica

                I posted the pic of the seeds themselves here - the ones with the smaller seeds are usually a bit longer and slightly more pointed on the ends, but not always. The ones I've had have been mixed with the loose ones I buy and are peeled and bitten into before I know what I've got. I'll see about a pic when I get some more (the lady at Mulberry and Canal didn't have any on Sunday - but her daughter said it was just that they didn't have them, not that they were finished for the season).

                1. re: buttertart

                  Thanks! I have never tried fresh lychees but would like to; I saw two types on the stands today--ones on the branches and loose ones. The loose ones seemed to ahve a green-ish tinge if I am remembering correctly.

                  1. re: erica

                    The redder they are the fresher they are, I've been told.

                    1. re: buttertart

                      For lychees, be sure to ask location as well. Taiwanese are the most fragrant and sweetest, as well as most expensive. Mexican and Floridian are also usually very good. Avoid the ones from China, as in my experience, they tend to be less fragrant, less sweet and more likely to be spoiled.

                      1. re: FattyDumplin

                        I'm always on the lookout for Taiwan ones, because it was there I had my first. Most of them in NY seem to be from FL (makes sense given shipping).

            2. There's an Asian -- maybe Thai fruit -- that is orange on the outside and green on the inside. My son had a fruit drink made out of this fruit at Spice Market last week. Any idea what it is. It apparently starts with a "C" or "K" depending on the translation. It had a slight tangerine taste to it. Does anyone know it or has seen it anywhere?

              Spice Market
              403 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10014

              2 Replies
              1. re: roxlet

                if you got the colors reversed (orange inside green outside)I'm guessing Kalamansi/Calamansi. And no I'm not sure I've ever seen the actual fruit for sale (that's not saying it doesn't happen, just that I've never seen them) If the color is as you said, it sounds like lulo/naranjilla, That's actually South American, but I imagine they could grow them in SE Asia as well. I've seen those for sale from time to time in Latin American supermrkets, but not often

                1. re: jumpingmonk

                  I think I must have reversed the colors. I think is is Kalamansi. Thanks.

              2. Chinatown was awash in lychees this Sunday - most places 3 lb for $10, our lady of Mulberry St was at 3 lb for $8 (and her stand was mobbed at around 3 pm).
                She also had black cherries at 2 lb for $6, as did a lot of places. I thought hers didn't look as good as the others BUT they are terrific, big, meaty, sweet, and hard (and included some Queen Annes).