Alhambra Farmers Market
The Alhambra Source took another trip to the Sunday morning farmer's market and came back with tips about healthy jujubes (otherwise known as ziziphus zizyphus), a lime that is a cross between a mandarin and a kumquat, and a melon that feels like a papaya but tastes like sweet casaba.
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Dive into the health benefits of jujubes!
There's something about a table filled with produce that makes you want to dive right in, like one of those multicolored ball pits that you always lost a shoe in. Few fruit spreads are better for that than the jujube, also known as red date or ziziphus zizyphus (no that's not a typo). Jujubes might be relatively unknown to many in the US, but it is as popular as grapes in many cultures, most commonly as a dried snack. It's also used in medicinal teas to help alleviate stress. The fruit contains high amounts of vitamins and minerals, and is said to enhance metabolism and support cardiovascular health. The taste and texture is like an apple, but less "juicy." When immature the fruit appears smooth and green, and will begin to wrinkle and turn a burnt red as it ages. Jujubes can be found in many Asian grocery stores, dried for use in teas, soups/broths, and even candied for a sweet snack. I came across this page with a few jujube recipes, most promising is the savory application with mushrooms and onions. I bought a large bag for $7 from Gonzaga Farms, and have been munching on quite a few of them throughout the day. Make sure to pick fruits that are not blemished, and feel plump and hefty for their size.
Calamansi, Southeast Asia's favorite citrus and not bad for limoncello
A cross between a kumquat and mandarin orange, the calamansi lime has very tart flesh with a sweet, pleasantly aromatic peel. Now what differentiates this from other popular citrus fruits? The peel has an amazing perfume, more deep and complex than a normal lime or lemon. The flesh is perfectly sour without ever becoming bitter. Very popular in Filipino, Vietnamese and Malaysian kitchens, the juice is used as the main sour flavor for a variety of dishes; marinades and sauces, noodle soups, broths and beverages. Rasa Malaysia has a great recipe for a refreshing Calamansi-ade, and I will definitely be trying out this recipe from the fine folks over at Burnt Lumpia (who also run the popular Filipino food truck, The Manila Machine). I'm looking forward to grilling some steak marinated with soy, garlic and calamansi, and a serving of homemade calimansi-limoncello.
A melon that looks and feels like a papaya, but is pure casaba sweetness
Walking from the Wells Fargo on the corner of Chapel and Bay State, one of the first stands you come across is Ha's Apple Farm, known for their wide variety of apples, pears and fruit butters, syrups and vinegars. Which is why these green/yellow melons just jumped out from the usual red delicious! They look and feel like small papayas, but inside is pure melon, like the sweetest casaba you've ever tasted. I wept while slicing the fruit, as the juice from the cutting board spilled onto the table. The most obvious use is to eat it raw, sliced for easy snacking or tossed with citrus in a refreshing fruit salad. Toss a few slices in a blender and serve with champagne for some tasty mimosas, perfect for Sunday brunch (or anytime of day, really). While I enjoy the pure taste of the melon, I couldn't help but wrap them in the salty goodness of proscuitto and salami. The melon is coming off its peak season, but should be available through the end of October.
Do you have any tips or recipes for these fruits?