I am missing my Saturday morning excursion to the market so today I am going to post about fruit which is common or uncommon to find where we live here in Thailand…..
Gac fruit is not a common fruit and quite a treat when it is found on the local markets in Southern Thailand or grown on land and in gardens as are many of the less commercial fruits.
With its prickly outer shell which is NOT edible this fruit grows on climbing vines. Going from green to a dark orange when it is ripe this fruit has a short season of only 2 months from December to January. It is quite a rare fruit it can be found on local markets in Southern Thailand. It is the soft pulp surrounding the edible seeds which you eat. The seeds are not only edible but used in traditional Chinese medicines.
It is used to treat eye conditions, burns, skin problems and wounds.
The juice makes a healthy drink which is said to be good for the eyes, immunity, skin and heart health. The taste is a cross between a tomato and a ripe papaya it is also commonly called the Gac fruit. Its other names are Chanbada Fruit or spiny bitter gourd.
Today the Gac fruit extracts are used in very popular skin care supplements around the world. Rich in antioxidants and beta-carotene it is said to contain 70 times more than in tomatoes or zeaxanthin.
It has the highest concentration of beta-carotene than any other known fruit or vegetable as much as 10 times more than the carrot.
Once in the body, it converts to Vitamin A and is said to have a variety of protective properties.
Due to the fruits magnificent orange hue, it is often grown as an ornamental plant.
It is also used to make a delicious deep fried sweet cooked in coconut batter. You will only find this sweet in the south of Thailand as the fruit is quite rare which also makes it expensive. It also tends to be found in local gardens and not really grown commercially.
Its brilliant orange colour is very attractive and it is also cooked in Khao Soi( Sticky Rice) flavoured with cinnamon and served at New Year Celebrations and weddings.
Image Credit: James Morris a friend who has given me a free licence to use this picture.
Thank you, James 🙂
The next fruit is:-
The Matum fruit which has a very hard shell and you wouldn’t want one dropped on your head from a great height.
It comes from a gum bearing mid-sized subtropical fruit tree. It has many other names such as golden apple, Indian quince, and holy fruit. It is said to have many medicinal benefits.
The fruits medicinal purposes are very high when the fruit has just ripened. It has a high tannin content which makes it suitable for the treatment of cholera and dysentery.
A hot poultice of the fruit leaves are said to be an effective treatment for various inflammations, a leaf decoction is also used as an aid for asthma. The root, leaves, and bark are also effective when used on a snakebite.
More often than not the fruit is sliced, dried and a thirst quenching tea can be made by steeping the dried slices in hot water, it is a very popular drink in Thailand.
The fragrant flesh is also eaten with Keow Neow…sticky rice. The young leaves and shoots are eaten as a vegetable here in Thailand and used to season food in Indonesia.
It is also a prototype of today’s Orange.
Images: My own.
The Mangosteen Garcinia Mangostana has a very hard outer shell and is a widely eaten and available fruit here in Thailand.
When open it is similar with its segments to an Orange. It has a thick outer skin which is about 1/4 of an inch thick. If picked straight from the tree it is easier to open because as the fruit ages it dries and loses water thus the outer shell quickly hardens.
Keeping it in a bag in the fridge slows down the moisture loss.
It grows naturally in South East Asia and is known for its sweet peachy tasting flesh. Its seeds are bitter and should not be eaten.
When young ..freshly picked from the tree the seeds are white but turn brown as the fruit ages so it is a good indication of how fresh your Mangosteen is.
To open the fruit using a thin sharp serrated knife carefully cut around the circumference of the fruit. Then twist to open.
Warning: Be very careful not to cut yourself as the shell is very hard which may cause the knife to slip.
Low in calories and high in fibre with a high Potassium content the Mangosteen also has healthy amounts of manganese and magnesium which is good for intestinal health.
It is known as one of the 5 not so typical fruits noted for its life-changing potential. Scientists believe that an antioxidant in Mangosteen can cause cell death in cancer.
But as with everything we consume moderation is key. Its high fructose levels can be harmful to humans.
Thai-style Mangosteen Clafoutis recipe:
- 5 fresh Mangosteen opened and segmented( leave seeds in)
- 1/2 cup sugar plus 1 tbsp.
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1/3 cup rice flour ( all purpose flour) can be used.
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup coconut milk.
- Pinch salt
- 1 tsp grated lime/lemon zest.
- 1tsp of vanilla and coconut essences.
- Icing sugar to finish when serving.
Pre-heat oven to 350F.generously grease a 1 1/2 qt casserole dish or you can use individual ramekins.
Prepare Mangosteen by removing from the outer shell and dividing into segments(leave the stone in)
Toss the fruit with 1 tsp cornflour and 1 tbsp of sugar. Arrange the fruit in the bottom of the dish/dishes.
In a large bowl or food processor whisk eggs with salt and sugar. Then whisk in flour. Add coconut milk, lime zest, vanilla and coconut essences and whisk to blend together.
Pour the mixture into the prepared dish/dishes, the fruit may float but that ok.
Place dish in the oven, if using ramekins they need to be placed in a tin/dish containing water which goes 1/3 way up the Ramekins.
Bake for 55-60 minutes until the middles are set and the top is lightly browned.
Serve warm with a light dusting of icing sugar with ice cream or whipped cream.
Warning: Advise guests to be aware that there are stones in the fruit.
Thai Cherry and pickled Thai cherries
The Thai cherry or mountain cherries as they are also called are found in East Asia, South Asia and South East Asia. They are from the family Rosaceae and the genus Prunus.
To me, they also look very much like a tomato but there the resemblance ends
The name in Thai is naang pha yaa suea khrong which translated means Tiger Queen. It sounds so pretty, doesn’t it?… I love some of the Thai translations.
Trees flower in autumn and winter and produce a yellow fruit which turns red as it ripens.
The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked as can the seed of the cherry.
This recipe is for pickled cherries.
- 6 cups of pitted and washed cherries.
- 1 lime
- 2 stalks of lemongrass crushed
- 4 pieces of dried ginger( galangal)
- 10 dried birds eye chillies
- 2 cups of white vinegar
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/4 cup of rice vinegar.
Either one large mason jar which holds 4 cups or 2 smaller jars sterilised.
Zest your lime and add to a mason jar with lemongrass, ginger and chillies.
Put both kinds of vinegar, sugar and juice of the lime into a pan and on a medium heat, stir until the sugar has dissolved when the vinegar is warm add the cherries and cook for 4 minutes.
With a slotted spoon put the cherries into the jar, then strain the vinegar and pour over the cherries any remaining vinegar put in a clean bottle and use for salad dressings or marinades.
Seal the jar and leave for 4-6 weeks to allow the flavours to develop.
Further information on the uses of the bark and leaves.
Gum is obtained from the bark and chewed also the juice from the bark if applied externally to the back is said to give some relief from the pain of a backache.
Both the fruit and leaves also produce a green dye.
The seeds are used in the production of necklaces by the ethnic tribes in Northern Thailand.
This tree has hard, strong aromatic wood which is glossy and the branches are used for walking sticks.
A little warning:
This fruit belongs to a genus where most if not all its members produce hydrogen cyanide which is a poison which gives an almond taste to their characteristic flavour.
The toxin which is found mainly in the leaves and the seeds is easily detected by its bitter taste. The quantity is too small to do any harm but a very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten.
On the plus side in small quantities, it has been proved to stimulate respiration and improve digestion. It is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer.
Which brings me to what I always say ..moderation is key and as always I can’t say it enough ” check” what you are eating before you eat it if it is unknown and you have just picked it because it looks pretty and because you have heard you can use other flowers. Not all flowers are edible.
Please always check and stay safe.
I hope you have enjoyed hearing about some of the fruits which we have here in Thailand if you have and you think any of your friends would love to read about them then please share on your favourite social media or to Pinterest.
That’s all for today…Please be well and stay safe…xxx
About Carol Taylor: Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.
I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.
Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.
Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!
Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a fabulous week and stay safe these are troubling times xx