'Accidental seedling' becomes fruit in its own right

March 24, 2004

Uniq fruit - also known by its trademark name, Ugli fruit - was discovered as an "accidental seedling" in Jamaica more than 70 years ago. Cabel Hall Citrus Ltd. grows and markets its brand of tangelos, and traces the citrus fruit's parentage to the tangerine, grapefruit and Seville orange.

The uniq fruits range in size from that of a large naval orange to a large grapefruit. They can be cut in half crosswise and eaten like a grapefruit, but they also easily peel and divide into sections.

Oh, the things people eat!

Prickly pear - also called cactus pear and tuna fruit - is the egg-shaped yellow to magenta fruit of the prickly pear cactus, which grows wild in the deserts of the American Southwest. It long has been a staple of American Indian cuisine and is used in marmalades, jellies, ice cream and dessert sauces.

Prickly pears, harvested - carefully - during late summer and early fall, can be ripened at room temperature. The rind is not edible, but the small seeds are.

Wish upon a starfruit

The starfruit - or carambola - comes in two varieties, sweet and tart.

The entire fruit is edible, says Robert Schueller, spokesman for Melissa's/World Variety Produce.

A crosswise slice of the fruit is star-shaped.

Avoid soft or blemished carambolas that have a lot of browning on the edges.

Starfruit, produced in Florida, the Caribbean, Hawaii and California, is available from August through February.

Tomatillo: a Southwestern staple

The tomatillo, which has a thin papery covering, looks like a small green tomato - in shape and taste.

The tart-sweet tomatillo can be eaten raw or cooked. It is a staple in Mexican and Southwestern stews and sauces, including salsa verde, or green salsa.

The fruit is available year-round from California and Mexico.

Shake and baby banana bake

Baby bananas - about one-third of the size of the everyday variety - are adorable.

The smaller "baby" version is sweeter than the larger version.

Schueller says his 1- and 2-year-old children like them because it's easier to "commit" to the miniature fruit.

The tropical baby bananas are native to Central and South America, the Caribbean and Mexico. Small crops also are grown in California and Florida.

Baby Banana Bake

  • 1 bunch baby bananas

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • Rum to taste

Peel baby bananas and slice in half. Place in an oven dish and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and lime juice. Pat with butter and top with rum (if desired). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until fork tender.

Serves 4.

- Recipe from

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