December 26, 2009

Are Mayapples Toxic

Mayapples are a sweet, pungent fruit that grows wild throughout the Eastern United States. Because they are so abundant throughout the lands east of the Mississippi River, mayapples are among the most popular wild edibles,
and hold a strong traditional place in native cuisine throughout the eastern half of the continent.

However, the popularity of the mayapple among foragers is variable, with some wild-edible chefs claiming that the once-popular fruit is actually acutely poisonous, and even potentially deadly. Claims about the fruit's toxicity have been said by other foragers to be completely false or based in erroneous assumptions about the plant's chemical composition.

Like all other members of the barberry family, the mayapple plant grows close to the ground and is herbaceous-- green and leafy, lacking any wood. Its leaves are broad and umbrella-like, and its deep root is renowned among foraging herbalists for its ability to soothe sores, fight cancer, and treat viral infections topically.

The medicinal nature of the mayapple root comes from its content of podophyllotoxin, an alkaloid that is found, in a synthesized form, in many anti-cancer drugs. Topically, it is used to treat genital warts. However, as the name fo the alkaloid might suggest, podophyllotoxin is indeed a toxin, and, like any other medicine, it can be lethal in large-- or even moderate-- amounts.

Because of this, most proponents of cooking with wild edibles recommend against the use of mayapple roots in food, and encourage its medicinal use only with the careful supervision of a physician or qualified herbalist. The leaves of a mayapple, which also contain podophylloxin, are also a no-go for cooking.

December 19, 2009

Marang

marang, madang, tarap, fruits and health, dailyfruits.blogspot.comMarang also called the johey oak (Artocarpus odoratissimus), Madang, and Tarap is a tree native to Borneo. It is closely related to the jackfruit, chempedak, and breadfruit trees. It is an evergreen tree growing to 25 m tall. The leaves are 16-50 cm long and 11-28 cm broad, similar to the Breadfruit's, but are a little less lobed.

As indicated by the scientific name, the fruit has a strong scent. The fruit is considered superior in flavour to both Jackfruit and Cempedak.

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Morales
Family: Moraceae
Tribe: Artocarpeae
Genus: Artocarpus
Species: A. odoratissimus

Binomial name:
Artocarpus odoratissimus
Blanco

The appearance of the fruit can be regarded as an intermediate shape between the jackfruit and the breadfruit. The fruit is round to oblong, 15-20 cm long and 13 cm broad, and weighing about 1 kg. The thick rind is covered with soft, broad spines. They become hard and brittle as the fruit matures. The fruit does not fall to the ground when ripe. It may be harvested while still hard, and left to ripen until soft. Marangs change colour to greenish yellow when ripe. The ripe fruit is opened by cutting the rind around, twisting and gently pulling. The interior of the fruit is somewhat similar to the jackfruit's, but the color is white and the flesh is usually softer. The core is relatively large, but there are far fewer "rags" and less non-edible parts. Arils are white and the size of a grape, each containing a 15 × 8 mm seed. Once opened, the marang should be consumed quickly (in a few hours), as it loses flavour rapidly and fruit oxidizes. The seeds are also edible after boiling or roasting.

The tree is not cold tolerant (as is the breadfruit). It can grow between latitude 15ยบ north and south, and in coastal regions where temperatures never stay under 7 °C. It is cultivated for its fruit in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and southern Thailand. The species is largely grown for local consumption; the short shelf-life of the fruit limits its wider use.

One unique exotic fruit that can only be found in a few parts of Southeast Asia is the Marang. This distinctively succulent fruit is native to Borneo and the southern part of the Philippines. The Marang (Artocarpus Odoratissima) is also referred to as Tarap. It is similar to the Jackfruit and Breadfruit in physical appearance but it is smaller and softer compared to the Jackfruit and a little bigger than the Breadfruit.
Unique Physical Appearance and Conditions for growth of the Marang.

The tree that bears the Marang fruit can grow to approximately twenty five feet tall and is propagated through its seeds. It also enjoys the warm and humid climate of tropical Southeast Asia and needs to be watered regularly to flourish.

The Marang usually has an imperfect round or oblong shape. Its outer part is covered broad and round spines with mix shades of brown, green or yellow. This fruit is usually hard and brittle while it is still maturing but it becomes softer when it ripens. Since the Marang fruit does not fall off from the tree by itself then it needs to be harvested. It can be picked while it’s still hard and left to ripen until it turns soft.
The Exotic Taste and Smell of Marang

Before tasting this luscious fruit, there are some physical signs to watch and see if the fruit is ripe enough to be opened. First, the color changes from greenish-brown to more yellowish-brown. Second, it gives off a strong and pungent scent. Third, try giving the fruit a short massage by squeezing it lightly, if the texture feels soft and mushy to the touch then it is ripe enough to eat!

The Marang fruit can be opened by cutting the rind into half and slowly pull them apart to reveal a yellow and white interior. The interior is similar to that of the Jackfruit but with smaller arils. Arils are the small bulb-like structures inside a fruit that encapsulates the seeds. The arils are milky white in color and they are sweet and addicting in taste! To experience the full flavor of the Marang fruit, it should be consumed in one sitting for it easily losses its flavor when left opened for a period of time.


Edible Crunchy Seeds!

Other parts of the Marang fruit that are edible are the seeds! The seeds are approximately the size of marbles only not as round. After eating, just gather the seeds in a clean container and rinse them with clean water. The seeds need to put under the heat of the sun to dry. When all the seeds are dry then they can be roasted on a pan without oil until it turns slightly brown without burning it. To eat the roasted seeds just rub the thin outer layer so it will peel off then eat them like peanuts! They do taste a little like peanuts but milder in flavor but they are crunchier because roasting make them brittle enough to enjoy!

Mangosteen, the Queen of Fruits

mangosteen, fruits and health, dailyfruits.blogspot.comMy first experience with a mangosteen occurred while visiting Japan and it was nothing to write home about; in fact it was a disappointment. Already on guard due to the odd name - why call them "mangosteens" when they're nothing like mangos? the thing looked like a bleached tangerine stuffed into a split purple baseball. The fruit tasted delicious; somewhat reminiscent of peaches and lychees, but there was far too little of it.

Unlike other tropical fruits, ultra-perishable mangosteens have been difficult to export successfully while proving resistant to cultivation closer to the western world. In their native Thailand, however, the noble mangosteen has long been prized for its medicinal properties as well as its delicious taste.

"Mangosteen, the Queen of Fruits"... no, that's not a taunt directed at the effeminate kid who used to loiter outside the deli. Nor is it a new superhero who hails from, er, the Bay Area.

According to Koichi Okabe, president of a Japanese dessert company president who deals with a variety of different Thai foods, "Mangosteens are sometimes called the Queen of Fruits." I'm sure they don't mind, unlike poor Shecky, the neighborhood faigela. Okabe goes on to say that "Mangosteen juice, made by crushing the fruit, skin and seeds, not only tastes great, it has wonderful health benefits."

The various mangosteen drinks now sweeping Japan are a rich purple in color, owing to the blending of mangosteen rind extracts with the pale fruit. It's the inedible inside rind, or exocarp, that carries "the good stuff" - a heady blend of over 100 phytonutrients, phenolic compounds and anti-oxidants called xanthones that have shown promise in warding off cancer in mice.

In Japan, mangosteen fruits and juices have struck a chord with a public who not only love new trends, but have been bombarded by a scary government campaign against the dreaded metabolic syndrome: illnesses caused by obesity and lack of physical fitness.

While non-Japanese companies like XanGo have been marketing mangosteen puree blends for several years now, cost factors have effectively made it a luxury product for most people. That may not be a problem in Japan, which benefits from being close to the Southeast Asian source. (via Mainichi News)

December 12, 2009

Mandarin Orange

Citrus reticulata

Mandarin is a group name for a class of oranges with thin, loose peel, which have been dubbed "kid-glove" oranges. These are treated as members of a distinct species, Citrus reticulata Blanco. The name "tangerine" could be applied as an alternate name to the whole group, but, in the trade, is usually confined to the types with red-orange skin. In the Philippines all mandarin oranges are called naranjita. Spanish-speaking people in the American tropics call them mandarina.

Description

The mandarin tree may be much smaller than that of the sweet orange or equal in size, depending on variety. With great age, some may reach a height of 25 ft (7.5 m) with a greater spread. The tree is usually thorny, with slender twigs, broad-or slender-lanceolate leaves having minute, rounded teeth, and narrowly-winged petioles. The flowers are borne singly or a few together in the leaf axils. The fruit is oblate, the peel bright-orange or red-orange when ripe, loose, separating easily from the segments. Seeds are small, pointed at one end, green inside.

Food Uses

Mandarin oranges of all kinds are primarily eaten out-of-hand, or the sections are utilized in fruit salads, gelatins, puddings, or on cakes. Very small types are canned in sirup.

The essential oil expressed from the peel is employed commercially in flavoring hard candy, gelatins, ice cream, chewing gum, and bakery goods. Mandarin essential oil paste is a standard flavoring for carbonated beverages. The essential oil, with terpenes and sesquiterpenes removed, is utilized in liqueurs. Petitgrain mandarin oil, distilled from the leaves, twigs and unripe fruits, has the same food applications. Tangerine oil is not suitable for flavoring purposes.

In 1965, the 'Dancy' tangerine was found to contain more of the decongestant synephrine than any other citrus fruit-97-152 mg/liter, plus 80 mg/100 g ascorbic acid.

Mandarin peel oil contains decylaldehyde, y-phellandrene, p-cymene, linalool, terpineol, nerol, linalyl, terpenyl acetate, aldehydes, citral, citronellal, and d-limonene. Petitgrain mandarin oil contains a-pinene, dipentene, limonene, p-cymene, methyl anthranilate, geraniol, and methyl methylanthranilate.


Other Uses

Mandarin essential oil and Petitgrain oil and tangerine oil, and their various tinctures and essences, are valued in perfume-manufacturing, particularly in the formulation of floral compounds and colognes. They are produced mostly in Italy, Sicily and Algiers.(hort.purdue.edu)

December 4, 2009

Genips Fruits

Genip trees are native or naturalised over a large part of the Caribbean, Mexico and parts of Central and South America. They can be found on many road sides and in forested areas throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. The genip tree can grow up to 85 feet tall and is attractive and leafy. The fruit grow in bunches and typically ripen during the late summer months. Genips are small fruit with a thin but rigid green skin. Inside the skin is usually one large seed, although it is possible to have two seeds. The seed is covered with a slimy peach colored flesh. It is juicy but limited and somewhat fibrous. When ripe the flesh is sweet with a slight tart taste; when not yet ripe the tartness is more apparent.

To eat a genip, break the skin with your front teeth and then gently push the two sides created just enough to pop the fleshy seed out of the shell and into your mouth. Suck and scrape the pulp off of the seed, and spit the seed out. The seed itself is white.

Children and adults can sometimes be seen throwing sticks into genip trees or climbing them in an effort to retrieve the fruit. More ambitious people bring sticks with hooks to gather the genips. It is common during its fruiting season to see people selling small bunches of genips on road sides around the islands.

Genip (Melicocca bijugata) is in the Sapindaceae, also known as the soapberry family, which includes some other edible fruit bearing trees such as lychee and ackee.

Trying Genips: While visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands try some genips, and if they are not in season try some other local fruit! If you are confident you know what the genip tree and their fruit look like you might pick some genips right from a tree. If in doubt, you can purchase some from a road side vendor. Look for fruit stands or for make shift genip stands, usually just a small table with a dozen or more bunches of the small green fruits. Genips are best eaten freshly picked. They start to get wrinkled as time passes after being picked from the tree. If only a little wrinkled they still taste fine. Best bet though is to look for unwrinkled, non-cracked skin.

Power to Stain: The juice from a genip is clear but it will stain clothing with a dark brown, rusty color. Quite difficult, if not impossible, to remove the stain so be careful when eating them. The Arawaks were said to have used the juice as a dye