Test Your Produce IQ: Can You Identify These Unusual Fruits?



Back in June, I asked you to test your knowledge of unusual vegetables which I’d photographed at Berkeley Bowl, the great East Bay produce market. Today, I’m asking you to have a go at identifying a dozen fruits, also found at Berkeley Bowl. The answers are at the end of this post, but try guessing and see how many you can come up with, and then send us a comment telling how well you did. Are you a produce whiz, or do you have room for improvement?  Take this quiz and let us know! My previous post of the vegetable quiz is here. Good luck!



(Click on any photo to enlarge it)




(In order, from the very top of this post)

1. This unusual citrus fruit, thought to have originated in northeastern India or China, is Buddha’s Hand. Used for its zest, it contains almost no flesh inside and no juice. It’s sometimes grown as an ornamental and is valued for its fragrance. A small acreage of buddha’s hand is grown commercially in Southern California.

2. If you guessed limes, you’d be close.  These are Yuzu, the citrus fruit often called for in Japanese recipes. The yuzu I’ve tried, taste not very different from Eureka lemons, which would be a reasonable substitute. Worldwide, yuzu is grown and eaten mostly in Korea and Japan, with California producing a small amount.

3. I’ve never tasted Rambutan, a fruit native to and eaten mostly in Southeast Asia. Apparently, you peel it and eat the sweet flesh raw.

4. The leaves give this one away. There are, of course, fresh green Olives. But are olives a fruit? Most of the sources I consulted say they are. Like apples or peaches, they grow on trees, and you eat the fleshy part surrounding the seed, although olives must be cured before they’re edible. They’re just too bitter to eat fresh.

5. Durian, known as “the dreaded durian,” is also native to Southeast Asia where it is grown and eaten widely. It’s infamous for its strong odor which has caused it to be banned from some buildings and public transportation in several countries. If you can get beyond the smell, apparently the taste can be pleasant, although an acquired one.

6. This member of the cactus family, native to Mexico, Central and South America and grown also in Southeast Asia, is commonly called Dragon Fruit. The taste, reportedly, is sweet and rather bland.

7. The leaves and zest of Kaffir Limes appear frequently as an ingredient in Thai and Vietnamese recipes, although they are grown and consumed in other Southeast Asian countries and in the Caribbean.

8. These Manchurian Crab Apples were grown in Washington State. Similar tiny, tart apples are pretty common in much of the U.S., but relatively rare in California.

9. The Horned Melon, also known as kiwano, a member of the cucumber-melon family, is native to Africa, and it is now grown in California, Chile, Australia and New Zealand as well. It’s taste has been described as halfway between a cucumber and a zucchini.

10. Cut these Prickly Pear (cactus) open to reveal a vibrantly red, seedy, sweet fruit. Native to the Americas, but now thriving in dry climates around the world, these are the fruit of the same cactus which produces the nopales common in Mexican cuisine.

11. Among the more ancient of fruits, it’s speculated that when the Bible mentions apples, it is really talking about Quince, which most resemble a firm, tart apple. Not good for eating out of hand, quince benefit from long, slow cooking and gradually turn red. Most quince in the U.S. are imported from Argentina, while China produces more than any other country. In recent years, quince have appeared more and more frequently on high-end restaurant menus.

12. With a soft, sweet, perfumed inner flesh, these California-grown Jujubes can be peeled and eaten raw. In Asia, however, where they’re eaten in Japan and all the way west to the Middle East, they’re also dried, used to make tea or wine, and cooked in various desserts.


SCORING:  Give yourself ten points for each correct answer.  If you scored 80 or above, you are among the elite in your knowledge of world produce. If you scored 40 or less, you are in need of remediation!  Head on over to Berkeley Bowl for some serious study!


One response

  1. Rambutans are quite similar to fresh lychees with a white quasi gelatinous inside with a big seed. Not bad at all, but not fabulous either. There’s no way to prepare the flesh for eating. You peel them, pop the whole thing in your mouth, and then spit out the seeds.
    Dragon fruit comes in many colors inside. I’ve had the white and seen the red. You don’t eat the peel. They have lots of crunchy little black seeds throughout a solid crispy flesh that look like poppy seeds. It is somewhat like a cross between an Asian pear and a Jicama. Crispy when not too ripe, bland and soft when it is too ripe. Great for garnishing or in salads.
    Durian= wrong, wrong, wrong! Expensive and wrong! I bought one at Berkeley Bowl and it cost over $30. When it got ripe it cracked open. I then had to put it in the compost pile. It smelled of rotten garlic or onions to the point that I couldn’t stand to have it in the house. The consistency inside was like room temp butter or sour cream. I couldn’t tell you what it tastes like, because given the smell there was no way I was going to put it in my mouth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: