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Bitter Melon

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Bitter Melons

I am one of the ugliest fruits you have ever seen. My skin is covered with deep folds, ridges and wart-like bumps. If you say that beauty is just skin deep, you maybe wrong as I am very bitter inside. They call me bitter melon, bitter gourd, bitter cucumber or bitter squash and my fancy name is rather nice: ‘ Momordica charantia’. I am also known by many other names: in Indonesia my name is ‘pare or paria’. In India they call me ‘karela’. In China I am known as ‘foo gwa’, while Japanese people name me ‘goya’ I know that many people especially kids hate and loath me, but strangely, I have quite a lot of admirers.

Those who love me say that I am bitterly delish, and a matter of fact I am also addictive. They say that I am good for eyesight and I can get rid of toxin in human blood and help the liver healthy. I am also believed to have many healing properties such as anticancer, antiviral, antimalarial, regulate blood sugar level, rich in antioxidant, vitamin A, C, folates, thiamin, zinc, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese and dietary fibre.

Not bad at all for a thing as ugly as me! They say that I am very yummy to be stir-fried with a bit of meat of your fancy; pork, chicken, beef or you can also use prawns if you like….. Add some chopped onion and garlic, and season with salt, pepper, a bit of chilli and soy sauce. Don’t get rid of my ugly skin, but you have to scoop out my inner spongy part that is full of seeds. If you want less bitter taste, rub me with some salt and rinse well before cooking. I am a tasty companion for a bowl of steaming hot rice.

Oh yes, I am also nice for curry, soup or stuffed with meat or fish.

Sliced Bitter Melons

Stir Frying Bitter Melons

Stir Frying Bitter Melons

Stri Fried Bitter Melons

Ready to enjoy….

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Feijoa – Acca sellowiana

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I love fruits and the ones that I can eat in large quantity are cherries and feijoas. I can eat cherries and feijoas one after another until all are gone, and I never have enough of them.

We planted our feijoa tree over one year ago and now it is flowering. The tree is only small about one meter high. I hope that it will have some fruits this autumn. We never expected that it would flower very soon, so it came to our surprise when I saw the beautiful red flowers the other day.

 

About Feijoa:

  • Feijoa – Acca sellowiana. Also called pineapple guava.
  • Native to Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay and Argentina.
  • Small rounded evergreen tree up to 7 m high.
  • Attractive glossy dark-green foliage, velvety grey underneath.
  • Pretty dark red flowers.
  • Small egg-shaped fruits, similar aroma to guava.
  • Soft fruit pulp is sweet and a little bit gritty.
  • Grow best in warm temperate to sub-tropical climate
  • Need winter chill to produce well (but not lower than 5 deg. C).
  • Ripe fruits drop on the ground in autumn.

 Update March 29, 2012:

At last the feijoa tree is having few fruits now (autumn in Australia). The first two flowering years did not produce any fruit at all. This year I tried hand pollination and it seemed to work:) They are still small and will get ripe around winter time.

Update May 27, 2012:

The few feijoa fruits are getting bigger, but they still look quite furry….. I think they’ll still need few more weeks to ripen.

Labu Genit dan Labu Artistik

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Waktu berkunjung kerumah saudara di Solo, kulihat dirumah mereka ada beligo alias si-labu genit. Mereka bilang sedang musim  dan harganya murah. Waktu melihat beligo yang seperti dibedakin  seputih wajahnya Geisha itu aku langsung ingat blog-ku dulu mengenai jenis labu ini. Dibawah ini adalah link untuk membaca blog tentang beligo alias winter melon:

https://kiyanti2008.wordpress.com/2009/01/16/winter-melon/

Memang banyak jenis labu-labuan, tapi yang dinamakan beligo itu adalah yang kalau udah tua berwarna keputih-putihan seperti dibedakin. Warna daging beligo ini putih dan rasanya tawar. Biasanya dimasak untuk kolak atau kluwa beligo yaitu direbus dengan gula merah dan diberi daun pandan.  Kluwa beligo ini amat segar dan bersifat mendinginkan badan jika dimakan selagi hari panas menyengat.

Berbicara mengenai labu, yang paling artistik bentuknya dan  yang paling indah adalah labu botol.  Dizaman dahulu waktu aku masih kecil, dirumah keluarga kami didaerah Solo terdapat tanaman beligo tapi sekarang yang dtanam adalah labu botol. Karena belum ada yang tua jadi photo yang kami ambil adalah yang masih muda berwarna kehijauan. Kalau sudah tua kulit berwarna coklat kekuningan.

 Beligo, Labu botol dan labu air

Labu botol juga dikenal dengan nama bottle gourd, white-flowered gourd atau calabash gourd. Sedang nama Latin-nya adalah  Lagenaria siceraria.  Sama dengan beligo dan labu air, labu botol adalah termasuk dalam keluarga Cucurbitaceae.

Seringnya labu botol ini ditanam bukan untuk bahan pangan tapi digunakan untuk hiasan atau tempat menyimpan air. Setelah buah-nya tua, dikorek dalamnya dan dikeringkan. Untuk kerajinan atau hiasan, labu botol yang sudah kering dan kosong ini dicat atau di varnish.

Selain beligo (Benincasa hispida )yang genit ini dan labu botol (Lagenaria siceraria) yang artistic bentuknya,  terdapat  juga labu air yang juga termasuk jenis Lagenaria siceraria. Labu air ini panjangnya bisa se-meter. Kulit nya halus berwarna hijau muda dan umumnya labu jenis ini  dipetik muda dan digunakan untuk sayur. Karena labu air yang panjang  serta terlihat gemuk dan membengkak ini, gadis yang lengannya montok dinamakan mempunyai lengan labu. Ha…..

Sebagai bahan pangan labu labuan mengandung fibre/serat yang tinggi dan bersifat mendinginkan badan.

Pohon Petai

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Waktu berkunjung ke kota Bandung beberapa waktu yang lalu, aku ikutan jalan pagi. Jalan jalan disekitar perumahan Sumber Sari Indah memang unik. Orang kebanyakannya mengelilingi taman dibagian depan perumahan. Katanya kalau hari Minggu jalan masuk utama perumahan ini tak bisa dilewati karena berubah menjadi pasar makanan. Mereka yang gerak jalan kumpul dijalan masuk di pinggiran Jl. Sukarno Hatta dan ini dimanfaatkan oleh pedagang untuk berjualan disitu.

Nah apa hubungannya obrolanku ini dengan pohon pete? Waktu ikutan jalan pagi, diisalah satu jalan di Sumber Sari Indah aku lihat pohon yang aneh. Besar juga pohonnnya dan mempunyai bunga yang bentuknya seperti gasing. Pohon apa ya? Terus kupotret dan kakak-ku bilang itu adalah pohon pete. Yang bener? Seperti inikah yang namanya pohon pete?

Selama ini aku hidup lebih dari setengah abad baru sekarang aku lihat pohon pete. Aku sendiri tak begitu suka pete. Kalau makan sayur lodeh atau sambal goreng dan ada petenya aku tak pernah makan pete itu, jadi aku sisihkan potongan pete dipinggir piring berjejer. Ha….. Yang paling mengerikan dengan pete adalah baunya yang lama engga hilang. Kalau makan lalab pete, mulut dan kencing bau pete. Mana tahan itu wc-nya.

Pohon Petai

Petai (Parkia speciosa) juga biasa disebut dengan nama pete, yongchaa, zawngtah atau bahasa Inggrisnya adalah stink-bean. Selain di Indonesia dan Malaysia, rupanya petai juga menjadi kegemaran orang dari Thailand, Laos, Burma dan beberapa tempat di India.

Banyak orang menghubungkan petai dengan jengkol, walau mungkin baunya ada miripnya tapi petai dan jengkol itu berlainan jenisnya.
Jengkol adalah tanaman yang nama Latinnya adalah Archidendron pauciflorum / Pithecollobium jiringa / Pithecollobium labatum. Bagaimana dengan petai China yang bahasa Jawanya adalah mlanding atau lamtoro? Yang ini juga berbeda jenisnya dengan petai maupun jengkol dan istilah Latin-nya adalah Leucaena glauca.(Catatan: Walau petai, jengkol dan petai Cina berbeda jenisnya, ketiganya berasal dari keluarga yang sama yaitu Mimosoideae).
Ingat tentang petai China yang bijinya kecil kecil itu, paling enak kalau dimasak sebagai campuran bebotok kelapa. Sedap deh.

Kembali ke petai…… pohon petai bisa tumbuh setinggi 30 m dengan dedaunan yang rindang. Bunganya yang berbentuk seperti gasing atau bolam lampu akan rontok setelah polinasi dan dipucuk tangkainya yang masih dipohon akan tumbuh beberapa papan petai yang panjang panjang itu.

Aku pernah baca bahwa buah petai yang tua mengandung zat gula sucrose, fructose and glucose, jadi mereka yang suka makan petai akan mendapat tambahan energi apalagi kalau memakannya sebagai lalab…….

Senang juga aku bisa lihat pohon petai karena hobby-ku adalah tanaman. Bagi mereka yang tinggal disekitar Sumber Sari Indah di Bandung, tahukah anda pohon pete ini? Letaknya aku lupa jalan apa tapi kalau tak salah adalah. Sumber Resik (agak dibagian belakang perumahan). Kalau anda belum tahu tapi penasaran silahkan mencarinya sambil gerak jalan pagi….:)

Pohon Sukun di Bandung

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Ditengah hiruk pikuk-nya lalu lintas dan padatnya penduduk, pohon pohon sukun didaerah perumahan Sumber Sari Indah, Bandung tampak tumbuh subur dan berbuah. Rupanya akhir akhir ini digalakkan penghijauan kota dengan menanam pohon pohon yang bisa menghasilkan makanan seperti misalnya pohon mangga, sukun, petai atau jengkol. Saya jadi heran siapa yang berhak memetik buah sukun itu karena pohon pohon ini tumbuh dipinggir jalan.

Sukun

Tentang tanaman sukun:

Bahasa Inggrisnya  tanaman/buah sukun adalah breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis). Tanaman ini berasal dari Asia Tenggara dan kepulauan Pacific barat. Buah sukun ini merupakan sumber makanan pokok di banyak daerah di kepulauan Pacific. Tanaman lain yang berasal dari jenis sama adalah kluwih/kluweh (Artocarpus artilis/ yang berbiji), nangka (Artocarpus heteropyllus) dan cempedak (Artocarpus polyphema).

Saya mencoba mencari info tentang perbedaan antara sukun dan kluwih. Ternyata kedua tanaman ini satu jenis (A. altilis), hanya kalau sukun itu tak berbiji sedangkan kluwih adalah yang jenis berbiji. Buah sukun di Indonesia seringnya dimasak sebagai makanan kecil, seringnya buah yang tua dan mengandung banyak tepung ini digoreng atau dibuat kolak (dengan santan dan gula merah) atau dijadikan keripik sukun. Sedangkan kluwih seringnya dipetik muda dan dijadikan sayur lodeh.

Saya ingat waktu masih kecil, tetangga sebelah punya pohon kluwih dan bunganya yang jantan kalau jatuh dan sudah kering, kalau dibakar akan berasap dan  bisa berfungsi sebagai obat untuk mengusir nyamuk.

Melihat pohon pohon sukun di Bandung ini membangkitkan kembali kenangan masa kecilku. Dulu setiap kami pergi ke Yogya pasti beli sukun yang warnanya kekuning kuningan pertanda udah tua. Dizaman dulu rupanya buah sukun ini didaerah Jawa Tengah hanya bisa didapati dijual di Yogya. Setelah digoreng oleh mama, kami semua menyantapnya dengan minum teh manis. Sukun goreng ini garing luarnya dan empuk serta manis dalamnya. Ueenak sekali……. 🙂

Winter Melon

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I remember long time ago when we used to grow winter melon in the family property in Central Java. The trailing plants crept as far as they could reach and the rounded fruits, which looked like as they were excessively covered by talcum powder, were sitting there on the ground ready to pick.

 

Winter melon flesh is white and it is not sweet. They are used for cooking rather than eating fruit. Asian people cook winter melons to make soup, curry, stir-fry and some preserved them with sugar to make candied winter melon. But my favourite is winter melon stew! It is so refreshing and cooling in a very hot day. We boil chunks of peeled melon flesh together with palm sugar and few fragrant pandan leaves. We let it cool and we serve it with ice cubes as at that time we didn’t have a refrigerator.
 
   
winter-melon-pics2
Winter melon (Benincasa hispida) is also known as white gourd, ash gourd, wax gourd or fussy melon in English. In Indonesia people call it beligo. It is a vein that has strong tendrils and when the fruits are young they are furry. But as soon as they have started to mature, the smooth green skin is covered by white powder-like substance. In colder climate countries like China, they use these long lasting mature fruits for cooking during the winter. This is why they name this versatile fruit “donggua” or “tong qua” which means winter melon.
Winter melons are grown from seeds. This plant needs full sun position, warm weather, rich soil and good watering. The pollination is depended on insects. Many people prefer to let the vine grow on the ground but the others built trellises for the plants to climb on. In this case the trellis has to be strong as the fruits can grow quite large.
When I was small girl, one of my aunties used to make candied winter melon. In Indonesia we call it Tang Kue. After cutting the melon flesh into identical strips, she would soak these white bland tasted melon peices in ash (or lime) solution to harden them. Then they had to be blanched in boiling water to get rid of the traces of ash/lime. After all these were done, they were boiled in ‘sugar and water mix’ until the sugar crystalized and the melon pieces were well coated. The result was this snow white (crystal-like) candied winter melon that was very sweet and a little chrunchy in texture. The Chinese will serve this candied melon during the Lunar new year celebration or use it as gifts for family and friends together with the other celebration sweets.
 

………….”A sweetheart cake or wife cake is a traditional Chinese pastry made with winter melon and almond paste.
There are many classes held in Hong Kong for making sweetheart cakes. The sweetheart cake, though it has such a long history, is still popular among many in Hong Kong and Mainland China. Many people in Hong Kong, as well as professional chefs, are reportedly modifying this pastry to make it more “modern” and better-tasting

Legendary Origin:
There are two legends that attempt to explain the origins of the Sweetheart cake. One tells the tale of a couple that lived a very poor life in imperial China. They loved each other and lived in a small village.
Suddenly, a mysterious disease spread. The husband’s father became very sick. The couple spent all of their money in order to treat the man’s father, but he was still sick. The wife sold herself as a slave in exchange for money to buy medicine for her father-in-law.
and with a crispy crust. His cake became so popular that he was able to earn enough money to buy his wife back.
There is another version where the man was eating at someone’s house and recognized his wife’s pastry and was reunited……….” (Quoted from Wikipedia)

 

 

Smelly King Of Fruit

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Smelly King Of Fruit

Will you eat fruit that taste like heaven, but smells so disgusting? For those that not familiar with this fruit, will think the smell is like over ripe cheese, unwashed stinky socks, or uncollected garbage on a hot day. The odour is overpowering it fills your house in a matter of second. So strong so it is required to be stored in a sealed container during the shipment overseas.

durian-on-tree

Durian The King Of Fruit (Durio zibethinus)

Widely known as the King of Fruit, Durian (Botanic Name: Durio zibethinus) is unique and exotic. The shape is round to oval; it can be symmetrical or unsymmetrical. It has greenish yellow to light brown in colour. The size is ranging from the size of a cantaloupe to bigger than adult human head. Durian is covered all over by sharp pointy spines, so it needs to be handled with care.

You have to open the fruit carefully along the segmented hard spiky skin (shell). If the fruit is properly ripe it is easier to split the segments. Once the shell is open, it reveals soft light yellow pulp that thickly covers a seed (pip) as big as the tip of our finger to a small egg. The smaller the seed, it is the better, because the pulp will be thicker.  It is this aromatic sweet and creamy pulp that we eat. For those who love durian like I do, will describe the fruit as sweet, creamy custard like with a very distinctive and lingering aroma. It is a taste to die for.

The Tree:  Durian trees can grow as high as 165 ft (50m), and they are commonly found in South East Asia. The tree will start to bear fruits in 4 years and it is said that if given the right condition, a durian tree will grow practically forever. Once the fruit is ripe, it can easily detach itself off the tree and fall hardly on the ground. So it is better not to sleep under the tree. The large fruit grow straight from the trunk in clusters.

Nutrition Values and Products:  Durian fruit contains a high amount of sugar, Vitamin c, potassium, amino acid and is a good source of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. In South East Asia, like in Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore, people cook durian pulp in coconut milk and palm sugar and serve it together with sticky rice. Also there are various lollies/candies, ice cream, biscuits, cakes and wafers with Durian flavour.

half-durian

The biggest exporter of durians is Thailand. Although it is seasonal , this exotic  king of fruit is available all year around (frozen) in most big cities all over the world, especially in Asian or Chinese  food shops. To know if a durian is ripe is by the smell. However if you buy the imported ones usually it is quite good quality. Being kept frozen, it will reduce the aroma, but usually it will not change the taste and the sweetness.

The three of us in my family love durian (especially my son and I). People say either you like it or you hate it. But once you taste it and you like it, you’ll be hooked to the sensational taste the rest of your life. Some people also believe that eating durian will increase body temperature and it is also regarded as aphrodisiac. It is advisable for pregnant women and those suffer from high blood pressure to avoid eating this fruit.