Here is an alphabetical list of fruits and some related facts about each one.
Banana – yellow curved tropical fruit beloved the world over. In terms of global sales this tops the list of fruits. Originally from tropical Southeast Asia bananas grow pointing upward on the worlds largest herbaceous flowering plant. Most people mistake the plant for a tree, but once the fruits are ripe the main stem (which may have grown to 25ft tall) dies off and a new one starts growing. Although the common yellow banana is a sweet tasting fruit the starchier common plantain is also popular, but often makes an appearance in savory dishes, particularly in the West Indies.
Blackberry – The fruit of the bramble bush which is a very common european wild bush, blackberries are also cultivated and blackberry jam is a british favourite. Picking blackberries is enjoyable, but the bush has sharp spines. Blackberries find their way into wines and liqueurs, but apart from jam, their most common use is in blackberry and apple pies.
Custard Apple – see Cherimoya
Grapefruit – A breakfast favourite, The large sharp but succulent grapefruit has a yellow skin and is about three times the size of an average orange. Much more sour than an orange and with a bitter tang too, the grapefruit needs to be fully ripe or alternatively a little sugar can be added.
Kiwi – Green to brown skinned fruit with a hairy surface. Inside is a sharp but sweet flesh that goes equally well in a traditional sweet fruit salad as it does in a tomato salad. Try slicing kiwi and tomato and layering them alternately in a dish. A sprinkle of salt is all you need to complete this surprisingly good salad.
Lime – Green relative of the lemon. Vitamin C rich limes were given to british sailors to ward off scurvy, which kept them healthy but led to the nickname ‘Limey’ being used as an insulting term for a british person.
Melon – In Italy the melon sellers walk the beaches selling slices of cool watermelon to sunbathers. The massive heavy round green fruits are cut open to reveal a deep red watery sweet flesh that seems to dissolve in the mouth. One of the worlds great summer pleasures is spitting the inedible watermelon seeds out as far as possible.
Nectarine – A hairless form of peach that grows in slightly more northern latitudes than its more tender cousin. Delicious to eat freshly picked from the tree. Nectarines have a sweet orange coloured flesh full of juice.
Peach – The fine experience of picking and eating a fully ripe peach from a tree and eating it there and then has little competition for unalloyed pleasure. A thin downy skin parts to reveal rich succulent flesh that is sweet and delicious.
Pineapple – Very popular in the 17th Century when first imported into europe. Sir Christopher Wren wanted to replace the ancient Gargoyles on the roof of St Georges Chapel in Windsor with a row of stone pineapples, but thankfully, wiser heads prevailed.
Plum – Plums are small stone fruits that taste wonderfully sweet when very ripe, but quite tart while ripening. The can be found in many colours including yellow, white, green or red, but most commonly they are a deep purple shade (often with a white waxy bloom on the outside).
Quince– The quince is related to apples and oranges, but unlike its relatives quinces are too hard to eat raw and taste pretty poor too. They need to be ‘bletted’ (softened by frost and then a little decay) before being eaten. They are generally used to make jams and jellies which have a certain ‘christmassy’ scent that sets them apart from other fruits.
Strawberry – So easy to grow and so delicious to eat. For the british, strawberries and cream are the ultimate taste of summer. At the Wimbledon tennis championships 28,000 kilogrammes of strawberries are eaten by spectators. The only problems with strawberries is that the sweetest varieties only last a short time once harvested, so supermarkets often have varieties which may look nice, but taste of practically nothing.