Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Adventures in FFV

My dad used a military (?) acronym FFV on the grocery list for 'fresh fruit and vegetables'. It meant I think that he would pick out whatever looked good that week. And it made my mother laugh. 


-*- I found a new-to-me fruit at the latinx grocery story in K.C. last month: tejocotes. This blog post has a nice description and a recipe for Christmas punch. That's the usual use for these little crab apples. I tried one raw and it was crab apple texture but bland, not sour, nothing exciting. When boiled in spiced syrup however, the texture changes and the full taste is released. They are delightful and I ate them all. I used the Weird Explorer's "recipe" which starts around 4:25. Boil whole for 5-10 minutes in water, drain and cool, then slip off the skins. Make a syrup with 1:1 brown sugar and water, add cinnamon stick and whole cloves (and/or star anise if you like). Simmer the fruit in the syrup for 20 minutes, up to one hour. When cool, eat like little apples, biting around the large seeds at the "core". The leftover syrup is delicious too - could be a cocktail sweetener. I had such a good time finding out about these little fruits. 

-*- This fall I bought a bag of black walnuts at the grocery store with the best variety and local options. Black walnut trees are common here and throughout the midwest. The nuts that fall have a green hull that when opened stain everything black, and then an inner shell that is extremely hard to crack. So even though they're plentiful and easy to pick up, the nuts aren't easy to get at. My dad told a story about an Iowa neighbor who used his car to run back and forth over a burlap bag of black walnuts in order to crack them. This blog post shows how to do it with... a rock. I was happy to be able to buy the shelled nut meats. And they are interesting. Like stinky walnuts pretty much. You could even say gamey. It was fun to finally taste them.  

-*- Persimmon orange is a beautiful color. I have gotten some Fuyu persimmons recently and figured out a way to eat them that I like. These don't have seeds, which I find slightly disappointing. The first time I bought these fruits was in the Bay Area 25 years ago and they often had shiny dark brown seeds in their hearts. I found eating them a bit frustrating - the only way I knew was to remove the stem and scoop the flesh out with a spoon. It was inefficient and a bit awkward. This year I tried peeling the fruit and that was better! By taking off just the thin outside peel I feel like I'm getting more of the fruit. They are mild and sweet and crunchy. Here's a page with info on the two common varieties, Fuyu and Hachiya. Hachiyas are tannic/astringent if they're not fully ripe. My mother learned a way to force them for baking - once they're orange, stick them in the freezer, it finishes the ripening process. If you're using them for baking that works well. 

-*- The best apple varieties change year to year. This year the best ones I've gotten consistently have been Jonathans from Michigan, the bag says Riveredge. Crisp and tart/sweet. 


Have a sweet and calm end of the year. And may we all have wonderful discoveries in the new year. 

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