Unusual fruits you can find in California

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Ruby-red cherries, juicy peaches, crispy apples — without a doubt, fruit is our absolute favorite type of food in the world. Literally, give us any fruit of any shape, smell or size and we’ll gobble it up without a second thought.  Not only is fruit delicious, but it’s also incredibly good for you. It’s filled with potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber in addition to being low in fat and calories. It’s Mother Nature’s own brand of healthy, guilt-free candy.

Of course, we love the tried-and-true fruits we’re familiar with. Who doesn’t love classics such as blueberries, which are perfect little bites of tart sweetness with belly-fat-reducing benefits to boot, addictive, sugary grapes — try them frozen! — or tropical, indulgent mangos. Maybe you’ve been a little more adventurous by trying buttery papayas, the plum-apricot hybrid pluots or soft, bright-orange persimmons. But now, it’s time to step completely out of the box. Here are some unusual but still amazing fruits to try next time you’re at the supermarket. Best of all? They’re all grown right here in California.

1. Tayberry

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The tayberry, named after Scotland’s river Tay, is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry. It has a strong delicious tart flavor — so delicious that it even won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit — and it’s great when fresh or cooked into desserts. Because tayberries aren’t easily picked by hand, they are relatively rare. But no worries — Berkeley’s own farmer’s market sells fresh tayberry jam and — when the timing’s just right — the berries themselves.

2. Figs

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Here, we might be a little biased: To be totally honest, we could probably eat a box of figs a day. They’re our favorite fruit! The sad thing is, most people have tried, or at least heard of, dried figs (or eaten a Fig Newton), but few have actually tried its purple, juicy goodness right from the tree, even though there are a few right here in Berkeley. Figs were one of the first plants ever cultivated by humans. Plus, they’re super good for you — they’re one of the most calcium- and fiber-rich fruit, and they have belly-slimming antioxidants. Figs can be served poached with salad, stuffed with goat cheese or — our personal favorite — eaten fresh.

3. Kumquats

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The kumquat, a member of the citrus family, pretty much looks like oranges, though it’s about the size of an olive. Kumquats originated from South Asia, and one tree has the potential to produce thousands of fruit per year. Kumquats are usually eaten in jam, although they can be preserved in salt or sugar, which is a common Cantonese trend. If you’re looking to have a little fun, spice up a cocktail and impress your friends by using the fruit as your garnish instead of the usual olive.

4. Pomelo

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Pomelos are close relatives of the grapefruit, although they are much larger and possess a sweeter, milder taste. There are actually two common varieties of pomelos: the sweeter, white-fleshed variety and the more sour, pink variety. The pomelo is widely used in Asia and is famed for its anti-aging, weight-loss and flu-fighting benefits.

5. Quinces

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In ancient Greece, the quince, a fruit sacred to the goddess of love, Aphrodite, was offered to the gods during weddings. In fact, the quince makes many appearances in Greek mythology, although in modern books, it is often mistaken for the apple. Quinces are actually usually too hard to eat raw, but they’re great when baked, roasted or used to make a sweet dessert wine. Because quinces have such a strong flavor, just a little can make a big difference in pies or jams. In fact, the term “marmalade” originally meant quince jam. Fun fact: The quince tree is also known for being extremely beautiful. Before the fruit appears, the entire plant flowers with pale-pink blossoms.

Image Sources: Michael Kwan, Xerones, *Robin*, Choo Yut ShingMartin LaBar under Creative Commons

Contact Agnes Zhu at [email protected].