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Lick the Produce: They come in all sizes

No matter how many animals they categorize into species and phylums and kingdoms, they always seem to be discovering giant squids in the North Pacific or new mammals in Borneo. And no matter how many fruits and vegetables I’ve tried over the past year, I’m always finding new ones that I’ve never heard of.

Seckel pears

Sweet pears

Food is so much cuter when it’s miniaturized. That’s why I buy baby carrots instead of their full-sized cousins. When I saw an eight pack of pears each the size of a baby’s fist, I snatched them up. These itty-bitty pears are also known as sugar pears, and after I bit into one it was clear why. They’re very sweet. Their small size makes them great for portion control too. I ate one or two at a time when I just wanted a small snack. I’d buy them again, but I got them at the late, great Sunflower Market, so I’ll have to find another sugar pear dealer before that happens. I’ll comfort myself in the mean time with this site made by some people who are really bananas about pears.

Red Pummelo

Red pummelo

The red pummelo could also be used as a medicine ball during my “Strength and Endurance” class at the YMCA. It’s huge! I placed a bottle cap next to it in this photo so you can get a sense of scale. I cut it in half and was surprised at how thick the skin was. I bit into the flesh of the fruit and felt a bit disappointed that it tasted like a grapefruit. Then I took another bite and realized this was much sweeter than a grapefruit. Then I took another bite and decided I would never buy a grapefruit again if I could get a red pummelo instead. I also suddenly regretted not buying the grapefruit spoons I saw on clearance at Target the week before. I talked myself out of the purchase when I tried to think of the last time I’d eaten a grapefruit and couldn’t remember. According to this site the modern grapefruit was developed from the pummelo. I haven’t seen this in the store since I bought it a couple weeks ago, so I might just be stuck with grapefruits for now. Come to think of it, why are grapefruits called grapefruits? They don’t taste or look like grapes.

Kumquats

Kumquats

I love to say the word “kumquat.” Kumquat! I think it’s the “kwa” sound in the second syllable and how it’s followed by that snappy “t.” The kumquat is a cute little fruit too, though the label on the box features a somewhat demented illustration anthropomorphizing it:

 Kumquats

As the label says, you eat the whole thing, peel and all. The peel has a somewhat sweet taste and the flesh is tart. It was fun popping kumquats in my mouth, but they weren’t that extraordinary. I wouldn’t turn them down, but I won’t feel unjustly robbed of their presence in the off season. It’s so much fun to say the word “kumquat” that I doubt any taste experience could compare.

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23 Comments

Amy • February 7, 2008 at 8:37 am

Kumquats make really cute edible dessert garnishes, especially on chocolate!

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MamaMaven • February 7, 2008 at 8:48 am

If you are looking for another pear to try the Asian brown pear is kinda cool, the texture of an apple with the taste of a pear. I am not a big fan of the pear texture so it was a win for me!

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hopefulloser • February 7, 2008 at 10:05 am

Oh my gosh, I love kumquats. I could eat them like popcorn.

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Heather • February 7, 2008 at 10:29 am

I love kumquats! I do think they are one of the most unfortunately named fruits ever though. It just sounds dirty!

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Drina • February 7, 2008 at 10:55 am

I have honestly never tried these things. Thanks for expanding my culinary horizons yet again!

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Melsky • February 7, 2008 at 11:31 am

Grapefruits are named that because they are said to resemble grapes while growing in clusters on the tree. Though I grew up in Southern California with all kinds of citrus trees and never noticed that.

We also had kumquats, which I never liked much. We used to throw them at each other, likely because we didn’t have any snow for snowball fights.

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Lora • February 7, 2008 at 12:18 pm

I could send you bushels of kumquats if you like. My mother-in-law has a tree in her backyard and she doesn’t eat them, ever.

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Chubby Mommy • February 7, 2008 at 12:20 pm

I love kumquats, too! We had a tree of them in our backyard when I was a kid (grew up in California), and that was the only real snack Mom let us have between lunch and dinner since they’re so healthy. My sister and I would go out and sit under the tree and gorge until we couldn’t stand to eat another one.

Of course, we were back the next day doing the same darned thing.

Have you tried grapples (grape-flavored apples) yet? They’re delicious, too.

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Jenny • February 7, 2008 at 12:43 pm

I love your Produce Porn Posts.

Hee.

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Sonya • February 7, 2008 at 12:49 pm

I just discovered those baby pears at Publix this past week. They are good! I also agree with MamaMaven, the Asian brown pear aka “apple pear” is better, imo, than your typical pear. They are my favorite. They also seem to be less messy, which is a major plus given my propensity for spilling and dripping everything I eat.

Kumquats are good and fun to eat. I love a low maintenance food! Even better though are loquats. (http://www.plantanswers.com/loquat.htm) It’s just not as much fun to say.

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sheddingpounds • February 7, 2008 at 4:14 pm

The kumquats look like lemons, it’s interested that the peel is whats sweet.

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Rhonda • February 7, 2008 at 4:45 pm

The pummelo is also called pomelo, and here in Hawaii, I’ve heard it referred to as jabon (ja BONE).

I must have always got a bad bunch of kumquats. The peel tastes like eating an orange or lemon peel to me – bitter. Am I doing it wrong?

I was an an Ikea a couple of weeks ago while visiting my daughter and HAD to get the apple slicer/corer. You’re right about that gadget — indispensable!

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Kyle • February 7, 2008 at 4:47 pm

Just random information that you might already know, but Pomelo means Grapefruit in espanol. Does that put any of the pieces of the puzzle together? No? Didn’t think so…

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Cynthia • February 7, 2008 at 9:11 pm

There was a kumquat tree in our neighborhood where I grew up in SE Texas and I really liked them. But it’s not something I’ve often seen in the grocery stores here in eastern OR. Recently, I ran into some at my local Safeway and they were on sale! So I bought.

But I think they are better fresh off the tree, these were a disappointment, rather bitter. Oh well, I knew I was taking a chance on buying them up here.

As for the Pomelo, I’ll have to try one. I love Texas grapefruits! Have not seen the sugar pears locally, but then again, I’ve never been a big pear person.

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Amanda • February 7, 2008 at 9:57 pm

Ah ha! I’m so glad you tried Kumquats. I was looking at a box of them in the store on Tuesday, and I decided I needed to do a little more research before I bought them. I’m not quite as daring as you are!

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kathy • February 8, 2008 at 12:38 am

Here in MExico, grapefruits are called pomelos but maybe they are actually pomelos and not grapefuit. But grapefruit flavor sodas are called Toronja flavored. So go figure there.

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Anna • February 8, 2008 at 10:34 am

I just looked up grapefruits on wikipedia to see if they have pictures of them growing in bunches and they didn’t, but …

apparently grapefruits are also known as “the forbidden fruit of Barbados”! Doesn’t that make them sound so much more exciting? Nothing like a little frisson of danger to make fruit more appealing! :)

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america • February 8, 2008 at 11:16 am

We had a sugar pear tree in our back yard when I was a kid. They were VERY hard before they ripened, so I mostly used them as amunition against my little brother. Sheesh, those little suckers hurt like hell!! When they were ripe, however, we would eat them right off the tree.

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lovelines • February 8, 2008 at 1:05 pm

KUMQUATS! I love kumquats — or jingju as I knew them, growing up in a Chinese American family. The thing is, you usually have to wait until they are very orange to eat them, or they’re sour and bitter. Although I guess some people like the tartness. Also, we never ate the fruits, only the skins, since the fruits are generally sour, but the skins are sweet. We had a kumquat tree in our backyard, so I’ve eaten a LOT of kumquats in my life.

My mom would often make a fruit “tea” with kumquat skins stuffed with rock sugar, thin slices of orange (including peel), chopped pineapples, chopped Asian pears, chopped apples, chunks of mandarin oranges, lemon juice and honey. She would put everything into a big jar, refrigerate for a few days, and then spoon some out and mix with boiling water to make a great, sweet drink.

I always get a jar of it whenever I’m caught with a cold or flu, and, although I don’t think it really has any medical benefits, it always makes me feel better!

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K • February 8, 2008 at 6:24 pm

I love kumquats! (What happened to the spelling “cumquat”? Do people think it looks dirty? That’s definitely how they were spelt when I first encountered them.)

It’s true, they’re better and sweeter if they’re bright orange. I’ve always found that rather than chewing them up whole, the best way to eat them is to slice them into rounds (as with a banana) so you can nibble the peel. But then I have a very small mouth.

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Zandria • February 9, 2008 at 1:16 pm

I love fruit, but I guess I’m guilty of always going towards the same things. I’m sure I’d like new fruits, too…it’s just the act of actually reaching out and picking it up!

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SP • February 11, 2008 at 7:28 pm

The first time I ate a kumquat, I had no idea what to do with it — the name delights me, so when I saw them, I bought some — and I carefully peeled it and ate the fruit in the middle. And was thereupon righteously indignant for an embarrassingly long time that this imposter fruit was nothing but a tiny, useless lemon with a cute name. Outraged, I was! Sigh…

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zentient • February 12, 2008 at 11:12 am

I love the fresh berries for a special treat – blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries (red, black or gold), also cherries. They are usually so expensive you’re not going to have enough to overeat.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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