A few years ago none of us knew an acai berry from a goji berry. But these days tropical fruits are taking over our grocer’s shelves. We sampled two of the newest for you – jackfruit and monk fruit – and we’ve also got a delicious chutney that comes to us by way of South Africa.
Upton’s Naturals Jackfruit
Native to Southeast Asia, a fresh jackfruit is big (it can weigh up to 80 pounds) and spiky and has an odd but pleasant aroma. The flavor of ripe jackfruit has been described as like mangoes, bananas and pineapple. If you’d like to try it, pick up the peeled fresh ripe “petals” at the Buford Highway Farmers Market. People in Southeast Asia enjoy it ripe but they also enjoy the unripe fruit in deeply flavored dishes like curry. Now jackfruit is becoming a popular meat substitute here in the States. But there’s no need to buy that 80-pound behemoth or a jar of canned jackfruit. Upton’s Natural is doing all the work and bringing us unripe jackfruit in a fresher, tastier form. They partner with family farms in Thailand to bring us packaged jackfruit in plain and flavored varieties including Thai Curry, Chili Lime Carnitas and Bar-B-Que and the soon to-be-released Sriracha and Sweet & Smoky. Just open the packet, heat and serve. A great addition to your next dinner party and just as delicious for the meat eaters as for the vegans at your dinner table. $4.99 for a 10.6-ounce box. Available at Whole Foods Market, Savi Provisions in Midtown, Sevananda and the Buford Highway Farmers Market. http://uptonsnaturals.com
SPR-FIELD’S Dried Monk Fruit
Monk fruit grows in China and Thailand and the fruit is sweet, sweet, sweet. The Chinese name is “luo han guo.” It’s also known as “fruitmayor” and sources claim it’s anywhere from 150 to 300 times sweeter than granulated sugar. Long used in Chinese herbal medicine, it’s now being sold here in the States as a plant-based non-calorie sweetener like stevia. SPR-FIELD bring us dried monk fruit from what it reports are the remote, non-polluted mountains of Guangxi, Guilin in southern China. One fruit will sweeten two liters (or about 8 1/2 cups) of water which you can then drink as is, or add in some fresh lemon juice and enjoy as lemonade. We found the liquid has a sort of sweet “green” flavor. You will also start seeing monk fruit used in products like Dole diced peach fruit bowls or served as a sweetener option at Starbucks. SPR-FIELD uses it in their Eureka Tea series available in 10 flavors including chamomile, Earl Grey and Orange Cinnamon. $40 for two boxes of six fruit. Eureka Tea is $20 for two boxes of 10 bags. Available through http://fancy.com.
Mrs. H.S. Ball’s Chilli Chutney
You have to love this origin story. It includes a shipwreck that landed a couple in South Africa instead of Australia and a daughter who inherited the family’s top secret chutney recipe. The Mrs. H. S. Ball’s company still makes chutneys just as they did in the early 1900s, bottled as they’ve always been in octagonal jars with oval labels. Justin Anthony of Yebo Beach Haus, Cape Dutch, Biltong Bar and 10 Degrees South grew up with Mrs. H. S. Ball’s chutneys in South Africa and now he’s sharing the chilli chutney with us. He offers it for sale at the Biltong Bar at Ponce City Market where it’s used as a dipping sauce for their hand pies. The chutney is made from dried South African peaches and apricots and seasoned with molasses, Worcestershire and hot peppers. It’s hot, but not fiery. Delicious on any grilled meat, it would also be a tasty addition to your next cheese tray. $8 for a 16.58-ounce jar. Biltong Bar, Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce de Leon Avenue. 678-515-0620. http://biltong-bar.com.