Some Exotic Fruits From South Asia

>>  5/29/2009

Submitted By: Hillary Marshak
The list of exotic and tropical fruits is ever-growing and lengthy, here are some key facts about just a few!
Labelled the "king of fruit," this spiky melon originally hails from the forests of Southeast Asia. Since Durian literally means "thorny fruit" in Malay, its spiky exterior makes it hard to attempt opening the fruit, as some consider it more dangerous to touch than most cacti. The inside of a Durian consists of pods that are filled with a custard-like substance. The smell can be strong to the point where some find it intolerable, but a sign of a ripe Durian is a strong smell that isn't sour.
According to, "To choose a Durian, pick a fruit which is comparatively light and who's stem appear big and solid. When shaking a good Durian, the seed should move." Durian lends itself well to milk-based foods like milkshakes, ice cream, and even cakes. The custard-like consistency can be used on its own for a rich dessert.
Durian season is typically summertime (from June to August). They can be found in many mainstream supermarkets in the East, particularly in Japan. But in the West, they're often only found in Asian groceries and markets. Aside from its countries of origin, (Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei), the largest exporter of the Durian fruit is Thailand.
Kiwano (Horned Melon)
The kiwano has taken on so many different descriptions in its day ranging from having the seeds of a cucumber, the look of a pomegranate, and the smell of a banana. The only sure facts about the kiwano are that they have yellow skin with spikes throughout, and bright green gelatinous insides with seeds throughout.
The fruit that bears such an aptitude of names like melano, jelly melon, and others in addition to kiwano and horned melon, was born in the Kalahari desert of Africa. Also called the African horned melon, is now also regularly grown in California and New Zealand.
Another Southeast Asian native, the lychee is part of a whole family of small rough nut-shaped fruits. Along with its cousin, the rambutan, the lychee is often red in color with white gelatinous insides. Used in some desserts, the flavor is sweet and citrusy.
The fruits are harvested during early summer, and are supposed to be eaten fresh. But, there are also such fruits as sun-dried lychees that take the name of lychee nuts. This preservation method was the only way lychees were consumed prior to 1950, according to
Pitaya (Dragonfruit)
A fruit of cactus plants, the pitaya has a bright reddish pink leathery skin with green long and curly spikes protruding from it. The insides are white with black specks throughout, making this fruit one of the most variable in color. Some variations of the fruit have red flesh, or yellow skin.
The dragonfruit was originally found in Mexico, Central and South America, and is now cultivated in China, the Phillippines, Israel, Taiwan, and many Southeast Asian countries. Only growing at night, the pitaya is also labelled "Queen of the night."
Guavas are native to the Caribbean, Central and South Americas, and Mexico. They grow on trees with tropical shrubs and white flowers, and can be yellowish-green or red in color. Both have a red juicy flesh on the inside that tastes sweet and flavorful, hence why guavas are often particularly used in desserts. With a long list of cultivars, the guava fruit thrives in humid weather, according to the Purdue University Horitculture Department.
Noted for its strong odor, the guava has also been cooked and prepared in salads and main courses, in addition to desserts. Some eat the guava raw by itself, or with cream cheese. The fruit can be round or pear-shaped and its seeds can be chewable.
Carambola (Starfruit)
The carambola fruit comes from the Carambola trees of Sri Lanka, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries. The yellow plasticky skin with distinct green edges gets its "starfruit" nickname from the shape it creates when cut latitudinally (please tell me it goes without saying that that would be a star). Carambola is now readily available in the United States as it is commercially grown in both Florida and Hawaii.
Carambolas are crunchy and juicy in texture, with a citrusy taste. Some believe that carambolas taste similar to apples or grapes. A significant amount of oxalic acid is present in the fruit, which can be dangerous for those with kidney trouble. It's also said that the consumption of starfruit with certain drugs can increase their effectiveness, so consumers should be careful.
Starfruit can be used to make wine in some countries, and in Myanmar is known for being a main ingredient in tea pickles.
The mangosteen is seen as a precious commodity in the States these days because it wasn't until recently that it became available. Still very expensive in the West, mangosteens are grown in Southeast Asia, along with Durian and many of the other exotic fruits. One of the interesting facts about mangosteens is that it naturally possesses an acid that deters insects.
The sweet flesh is the only edible part of the mangosteen and is said to be creamy, citrusy, and remniscent of a peach's flavor. "The ripe mangosteen is dark red and tastes best if harvested before turning purple or blue-black," according to
And unlike what you might think, the mangosteen has no relation to the mango.


Salad Garnishing

>>  5/27/2009

Salad Garnishing

salad garnish
 "Morning in Beijing" and "Dragon Tail",  both salad dishes are very simple, fast and fresh.

chinese salad
I don't salt them.

To make a salad nicely presented you need special tools.
A peeller to peel vegetable and to grate cabage.
A bowl-shaped knife for making cucumber bowls.
A cookie cutter for making stars out of carrot.
And a special cutter for zigzag carrot.

More articles:
Orange Stars
Thai Carving Class In Japanese Club
Fruit Display Before And After


Fruit Display Before And After

>>  5/25/2009

Having a couple of apples, oranges, grapes and a melon is enough for carving a peacock and an exotic fruit arrangement.

A peacock is made from a melon, green and red grapes and orange.

An exotic fruit arrangement is made of orange, lemon, grapefruit, kiwi, red apple, green apple, radish and marrow squash.

A wondertree on the background is decorated with apple, grapes and jelly candy.

Fruit display before carving

And the same fruits after


Orange Stars

>>  5/24/2009

Fruit Arrangement Support
The Best Way To Enjoy GarnishBlog
Fruit Carving Arrangement at Banboo Restaurant

Once I cut a pattern on an orange peel.

The orange was eaten and the peel was left by a window forgotten for time.

A week later I found the peel dry in a shape of a fantastic star. I used it to decorate interior.


The Best Way To Enjoy The GarnishFood Blog

>>  5/09/2009

This blog is made to support my food garnish projects which I make in Russian. They are, Culinary Art And Food Garnish website (has a Russian and an English page), Studio Of Fruit Carving Art And Vegetable Design (Russian only).

For two years of blogging about food garnishes I have cut many vegetables and fruits, gathered lot of pictures and methods and made some video. I am happy to meet people worldwide enjoying the art of food garnishing like I do. The GarnishFood blog is a place where you will find my works and instructions from different carving projects of mine.

If you have no possibility to read my russian websites, follow the GarnishFood blog. The easiest way to get prompt updates is subscribing via e-mail

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Since English is not my native language some grammar mistakes can happen in the blog. If it is an eyesore to you please do not hesitate to inform me of the case. I am always open to discuss both grammar and carvings. My e-mail can be found in the Contact Bar.

I hope we will enjoy the GarnishFood blog togeter.


Thai Carving Class in Japanese Club

>>  5/07/2009

Fruit Arrangement Support
Drink Garnishes
Puzzle Game With Fruit Carving Arrangements

On March I was invited to Japanese Club to give a class on fruit and vegetable carving. A room was provided by Ancor Hotel. I got a hall with comfortable desks, good lighting and a big magnetic board. Later I found that the board was not big enough and I was not able to arrange all my photographs for the thai carving presentation on it. Or I likely have had too many photographs.

We were about fithteen. The Club members and two japanese representatives Nasu-san the Japanese Center Director and Keiko-san a music teacher and japanese language tutor. After the presentation I was asked for some practice.

Two and a half hours trainig made us impassioned and a little bit happier ))

A blonde from the left is Olga. She was my Japanese classmate.

Second from the left Keiko-san, a japanese language tutor and a teacher in a music school.

A man wearing a blue shirt is Boris. Hi is a cap of our bowling team. Boris is indulging with carving a flower out of carrot.

The consequences of our meeting


Fruit Arrangement Holder

>>  5/04/2009

This plastic dish with pins helps to fit fruits and vegetables nicely on the table. Melon or small fruits do not roll down from the dish owing to the pins support.

I decorate the dish with greens and settle melon and fruits on the pins.


Cider Garnish

>>  5/02/2009

More articles:
Drink Garnishes
How To Make You Own Cider

This is another garnish I made for the Cider Contest. To make the rose you need an orange and thai knife (a special carving tool). Use a toothpick to fix the garnish in a glass. Add a couple of pepperment leaves.

The method of the Rose garnish (click on the photo to enlarge):


How To Make Your Own Cider

>>  5/01/2009

By: James Smylie

People here in Chicago stepped outside this week to falling leaves, (rapidly) cooling temperatures, and that crisp scent in the air that could only mean one thing: Fall is really here. And with the brisk weather, falling leaves, and Halloween decorations comes another fall staple: apple cider.

Yes, cider! That sometimes clear, sometimes murky, dry-or-sweet-or tart libation that Americans drank by the gallon before beer came along and screwed everything up. Yet despite its seasonal charm, and despite a recent surge in popularity (no doubt thanks to my tireless efforts), for some people this drink is still hard to find. That’s why I’ve put together this helpful guide. Whether you’re like me and lament the downfall of hard cider as America’s beverage of choice or you’re thirsty for something different and our Beverages section holds no temptation, you’ll find the information you need in here.

At its core (no pun intended), cider-making is all about patience. Beer’s paltry one month aging time pales in comparison to the (at least) three month commitment required to ferment a batch of cider. In terms of physical effort, as well, it takes far less to prepare beer’s wort than it does cider’s juice (“must”). However, any home brewer familiar with the experience of sipping homemade cider and watching leaves fall can tell you it’s well worth the trouble!

Get your juice.

As cider is nothing more than aged apple juice, you’d think it’s as easy as buying a bottle of Indian Summer at the store and drilling in an airlock, but you’d be direly wrong. The preservatives in commercial apple juice ruin cider production—your average bottle of juice will rot before it ferments—and the lack of yeast means you’d need to add your own (discerning brewers can do this anyway, but it’s not strictly necessary). If you must buy commercial juice, buy a brand without preservatives or other weird chemicals; otherwise, head to your nearest apple orchard and buy some fresh apple juice.

More experienced brewers—or those looking for a challenge—can start completely from scratch by going to an orchard and obtaining fresh apples. This method is time-consuming and difficult; in addition to picking the right blend of apples, you must mash (“scrat”) and press the apples yourself to get your juice. Small volumes of apple juice can be obtained through juicers and small presses, but it’s advised you buy or you’re your own equipment for larger amounts. All this can be tough work, but it offers something premade juice does not: total control over your cider-making experience. If you do decide to start from scratch, you’ll also need to carefully balance your apples. To create a dry cider, use a balance of 2:1 tart apples to sweet. To create a sweet cider, do the opposite. And never use cooking apples.

The nice thing is, once you’ve obtained your must, the process gets simple.

Store the juice.

First of all, get a glass or wooden fermentation container to store your juice. This can be anything from an airtight jar to a full-sized barrel, depending on the volume of cider you’re looking to produce. As with all brewing tools, your container must be sterilized before use. Pour in the must, and be sure the container fills to the top. Leaving extra space for air virtually guarantees you’ll end up making apple vinegar—not that apple vinegar is a bad thing, but it’s not what we’re trying to make!

Once your must is in its fermentation container, check the gravity of the juice. This is the density of the liquid, and it’s an indicator of just how alcoholic your drink will be—the higher the number, the more potent the brew. It’s not a critical step, but if you’re going for predictable results, pick up a hydrometer (owners of a brewkit like Mr. Beer should already have one). Gravity should ideally be between 1.050 and 1.080.

Pitch the yeast (maybe).

Traditional cider is made using only the yeast present in the skins of the apples. If you’ve got fresh-pressed must or untreated juice from an orchard, you don’t need to add any yeast at all. However, if you’re using store-bought juice or want to more exactly control your fermentation, pitch in a vial of champagne yeast (available from brew supply stores). Then close your fermentation container, seal it, connect an airlock (partially filled with water), and play the waiting game.

The waiting is the hardest part.

Store your containers in a dark place between 40 and 60 degrees and proceed to twiddle your thumbs for at least a month, preferably three. You should check on the containers regularly—once the bubbling stops, the yeast has consumed all the sugar in the juice, and it’s time to bottle, or rack, the resulting cider. You’re almost done! After sampling the fruits of your labors to make sure disaster hasn’t struck, use sterile tubing to siphon your cider into bottles.

Now, before you cap the bottles, a question: do you want carbonated cider? Traditional ciders are almost always flat, but most popular modern cider has at least some carbonation. If you want sparkle in your sip, pitch in a little extra-fine sugar for the yeast to continue chowing down on. Otherwise, simply bottle the cider.

If all this looks too intimidating but you still want to try some fresh-made cider, kits can also be purchased from Mr. Beer.

Now that you’ve got hard cider of your own, consider these fun applications:

Apple Cider Corned Beef and Cabbage
Buttery Mulled Cider
Baby Back Ribs with Spiced Apple Cider Mop
Apple Cider Punch

But make sure to save a bottle or two. Some days, there’s nothing better than cracking one open, drinking deeply, and watching those leaves fall.


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