10 odd fruits and vegetables that are totally worth trying
Branch out from apples and broccoli and taste the unusual, the exotic and the unknown.
The USDA keeps increasing the amount of healthy fruits and vegetables it suggests you should eat every day, and that’s a good thing. The government agency now recommends that half your plate be filled with fresh produce. If you follow this recommendation, you might be growing a little bored with the usual apples, grapes, lettuce and broccoli commonly found in stores. It’s time to branch out and and give something new a try. See if your store's produce section or local farmer's market carries any of these 10 unusual fruits and vegetables.
African horned cucumber
It may be called a cucumber, but it’s actually a fruit that’s like a melon. The outside has a hard, spikey rind that’s orange in color and the inside flesh is lime green. When it first starts to ripen, it can have the flavor of cucumber and kiwi, but as it continues to ripen, it takes on a banana flavor. It’s rich in vitamin C and a good source of iron and potassium.
It smells like dirty feet or garbage, but the taste of a durian is worth holding your nose for. The fruit inside the green, spikey skin is custard-like with a taste of almond. Grown high up in trees in Southeast Asia and pollinated by bats, durians have a short season and are expensive, but if you can get your hands on one, try it chilled!
This hybrid melon was developed in Israel in the 1970s. From the outside, it could be mistaken for a cantaloupe, but the inside is pale green like honeydew. Ripe galias are very sweet, juicy and a good source of vitamins A and C. They’re wonderful eaten fresh or added to fruit smoothies or salads.
This root vegetable’s name starts with a “j” but it’s pronounced with an “h” sound. A native of Mexico, it’s sometimes called a Mexican yam or turnip. It can be sliced up and placed on a raw vegetable platter or shredded into cole slaw or salads. Jicama is also good sautéed, roasted or stir-fried. It’s high in dietary fiber and a good source of vitamin C.
Until recently, Kohlrabi was relatively unknown outside of where it’s used most – Germany and India. Its popularity has grown, and it can now be found in many other regions around the globe. The fruit, the stem and the leaves of the kohlrabi plant are all edible. It’s a good source of vitamin C, folate, calcium and potassium.
Okinawan purple sweet potato
Dr. Oz designated the Okinawan purple sweet potato as a superfood. (Photo: shizhao/Flickr
As its name suggests, this vegetable originates from the Japanese island of Okinawa. On the outside, it looks like a regular sweet potato, but once cut open, a vibrant purple flesh is revealed. The purple sweet potato has a similar sweetness to the better-known orange sweet potato and many of the same health benefits. It’s low in carbohydrates and fat and full of healthy dietary fiber.
Also known as an Israeli Jaffa Sweetie, this fruit was only recently developed. A cross between a grapefruit and a pomelo, the pomelit resembles a grapefruit but without the tartness. Studies have shown regular consumption of the pomelit may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase blood antioxidant activity.
This fruit is common in Southeast Asia, but it’s very exotic looking to those unfamiliar with it. The oval fruit ranges anywhere from pinkish-red to yellow in color. Its rind is covered with long, soft hair-like tubercles. The rind can be torn open and the fruit popped right out. Be careful of the seed inside the rambutan, though. It’s bitter and should be avoided.
A member of the cauliflower and broccoli family, this vegetable is believed to have been bred in Italy in the 16th century. It’s a beautiful vegetable with spirals upon spirals. It can be prepared much like cauliflower or broccoli – eaten raw or steamed, sautéed or roasted. It’s high in vitamin C and zinc, and romanesco is more easily digested than other members of its family.
Despite its name, soursop is not sour. It’s a sweet, tropical fruit that’s native to South America and grows on the graviola tree. The outside is large, spiny and green and the fruit inside is smooth and sweet. The juice from the soursop is often used in beverages. The pulp can be eaten raw or used in refreshing treats like ice cream or custard. Though claims that consuming soursop can fight cancer are unsubstantiated, it’s still a good source of dietary fiber, potassium and vitamin C.
Photo credits: African Horned Cucumber: Antti T. Nelson/Flickr; Durian: Angelo Juan Ramos/Flickr; Galia Melon: Peter Zijlstra/Shutterstock; Jicama: MRS.Siwaporn/Shutterstock; Kohlrabi: Brunu Girin/Flickr; Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato: Hong Vo/Shutterstock; Pomelit: Oliver Wilde/Shutterstock; Rambutan: Amy E. Patton/Flickr; Romanesco: timquijano/Flickr; Soursop: The LEAF Project/Flickr
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