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Strange Fruit


tsquare
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October trip to Italy - in Venice (and on the barge in Murano), the produce vendors had boxes of golf ball sized fruit, brown skin, crunchy interiors without discernable seeds. The blossom ends were quite large and recessed. Stem like a apple. The fruit was not tasty - bitter, but not quite to the unripe persimmon stage - more like heavy tannin.

The vendor who offered me one to try did not speak English. I speak almost no Italian. He enjoyed the sourpuss face I made, but seemed genuinely surprised. I tried to ask if they need to be cooked, I believe he said no - and that they are eaten with cheese. I don't think they were quinces either. The leaves in the box were oval shaped, smooth.

Any ideas what these are? I've stumped out local produce guys.

Thanks!

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There´s two fruits I can think of.

The first, fitting better your description, at least as looks go is giuggiole. Here´s a rather blurred picture.

The other is corbezzolo.

Both are rather uncommon today, but were eaten and grown more often in the past. If either one of these two is the right one I could ask for a little more info from my somewhat older :smile: relatives.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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nespolo???

(perhaps melbalm or something like that in english)

Yeah, could be medlar -- which are nespole in Italian.

picture here

edit -- here is a better picture here.

(edited again -- not to be confused with the soft yellow fruit from spain, often with black spots that is called nespole as well which is a loquat or Japanese medlar)

Edited by balex (log)
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nespolo???

(perhaps melbalm or something like that in english)

Yeah, could be medlar -- which are nespole in Italian.

picture here

edit -- here is a better picture here.

(edited again -- not to be confused with the soft yellow fruit from spain, often with black spots that is called nespole as well which is a loquat or Japanese medlar)

Thank you! That's it. No wonder it didn't taste like much - needed time to soften. Wish I had brought some home - now I'll have to look for a tree start to plant.

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Corbezzolo! So that's what that is. I took pictures of some near our home the other day, wondering what it was. Judging by looks, they are related to lichis.

I saw some of these trees while hiking in Tuscany. Arbutus unedo are common in the Pacific Northwest as well - used as a landscaping tree where a green hedge is needed. I've never tried the fruit, friends have and lived to tell about it.

I think the Portuguese make moonshine with them.

Edited by tsquare (log)
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Corbezzolo are rather tasty IMO. My son and I found a wild tree bearing the fruit last year walking along the ridge overlooking Positano. We ate a bunch after we saw some Italians doing it. They were delicious.

I also found, bought and ate some this fall at the Boqueria in Barcelona. These were still good, but not as good as that initial discovery.

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nespolo???

(perhaps melbalm or something like that in english)

Yeah, could be medlar -- which are nespole in Italian.

...

Thank you! That's it. No wonder it didn't taste like much - needed time to soften. Wish I had brought some home - now I'll have to look for a tree start to plant.

This last comment confuses me a bit. I've never seen Nespole sold unripe also they don't fit the description:

October trip to Italy - in Venice (and on the barge in Murano), the produce vendors had boxes of golf ball sized fruit, brown skin, crunchy interiors without discernable seeds. The blossom ends were quite large and recessed. Stem like a apple. The fruit was not tasty - bitter, but not quite to the unripe persimmon stage - more like heavy tannin.

Nespole are indeed crunchy but have one big central brown seed, and have orange skin when ripe and pale yellow when unripe. Even unripe ones are hardly tannic, rather very sour.

I still suspect what you tasted were fresh giuggiole. I've asked around for a little info and found out giuggiole are usually sold fresh but need to be left some time out to dry, during which time they turn deep brown, wrinkled and sweeter. They're usually eaten cooked in brodo di giuggiole a fruit soup made with quince, giuggiole, dried fruit and eaten as dessert. Never had it myself but it's supposed to be delicious. There's an Italan expression for being extremely happy: "andare in brodo di giuggiole" (to go ? in brodo di giuggiole).

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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I am stumped too...

Kaki (or diosperi) are orange, not brown.

Medlar (nespole/loquats) definitely have large seeds, and also are yellowish orange, turning brown only when unfit to eat.

Corbezzoli are smaller than golf-ball size. They are yellow then red when ripe. At a stretch they could be dark red, but downright brown would mean overripe and over sweet. No bitter tannin taste there.

Mangosteen fruit is brown, golf ball sized and crunchy inside. But also very sweet and delicious. Besides, it's an Asian fruit, not Italian.

Sorry, I have no idea, but do let us know when you find out!

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nespolo???

(perhaps melbalm or something like that in english)

Yeah, could be medlar -- which are nespole in Italian.

...

Thank you! That's it. No wonder it didn't taste like much - needed time to soften. Wish I had brought some home - now I'll have to look for a tree start to plant.

This last comment confuses me a bit. I've never seen Nespole sold unripe also they don't fit the description:

October trip to Italy - in Venice (and on the barge in Murano), the produce vendors had boxes of golf ball sized fruit, brown skin, crunchy interiors without discernable seeds. The blossom ends were quite large and recessed. Stem like a apple. The fruit was not tasty - bitter, but not quite to the unripe persimmon stage - more like heavy tannin.

Nespole are indeed crunchy but have one big central brown seed, and have orange skin when ripe and pale yellow when unripe. Even unripe ones are hardly tannic, rather very sour.

I still suspect what you tasted were fresh giuggiole. I've asked around for a little info and found out giuggiole are usually sold fresh but need to be left some time out to dry, during which time they turn deep brown, wrinkled and sweeter. They're usually eaten cooked in brodo di giuggiole a fruit soup made with quince, giuggiole, dried fruit and eaten as dessert. Never had it myself but it's supposed to be delicious. There's an Italan expression for being extremely happy: "andare in brodo di giuggiole" (to go ? in brodo di giuggiole).

Now I am also confused. Someone here did suggest loquat - which we eliminated from the discussion due to the seed. But the "open end" of the nespole is what is so convincing. I think the confusion is that there are two genus - common and japonica - with the second being the loquat? So the question remains as to whether the seed of the common is different?

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I am stumped too...

snip

Medlar (nespole/loquats) definitely have large seeds, and also are yellowish orange, turning brown only when unfit to eat.

snip

There are two different fruit from different species that have similar names

1) Mespilus germanica. This is "medlar" in English and grows in England. This produces a fruit that is very astringent unless left to rot slightly "Blett". This is called nespole in Italian, but I have never seen it in Italy.

2).Eriobotrya japonica. This is called Japanese medlar in English, and is also loquat. It does not grow in England. This produces a soft sweet orange/yellow fruit which often has spotty black patrches on th outside. This is called nespole in Italian as well.

There are some links below.

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1) Mespilus germanica.  This is "medlar" in English and grows in England. This produces a fruit that is very astringent unless left to rot slightly "Blett". This is called nespole in Italian, but I have never seen it in Italy.

They are quite common in Emilia Romagna

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Corbezzolo! So that's what that is. I took pictures of some near our home the other day, wondering what it was. Judging by looks, they are related to lichis.

They are delicious when they are fully ripe. You should try the honey made in Sardinia from corbezzolo: it's bitter and it is very good with pecorino cheese :raz:

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Some more information on Medlars. There are several different types, some with more rounded fruit, some with flatter fruit. They taste similar. They also make a very attractive specimen fruit tree, growth similar to a quince (which is is related to, as well as apple/pears etc), with very attractive flowers.

Japanese Medlars/Loquats are quite common in Australia as well, completely different thing.

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Some more information on Medlars. There are several different types, some with more rounded fruit, some with flatter fruit. They taste similar. They also make a very attractive specimen fruit tree, growth similar to a quince (which is is related to, as well as apple/pears etc), with very attractive flowers.

Japanese Medlars/Loquats are quite common in Australia as well, completely different thing.

Thanks for all the confimation from England. I'm looking to plant a Medlar at home - though the frost component will be an issue. In the meantime, I cooked up a big batch of quince last night - to mix with apples in tarts, sweet potatoes in gratins, and to enjoy as is.

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"Mespilus germanica" - Medlar is my choice as the winning guess. I have an acquaintance in Seattle who works with someone who planted one last year and loves it (as a speciman tree.) I'll be hoping to find one for my yard and if it ever fruits, will report on it's habits in the NW.

I know a quince when I see it. Wouldn't mind one of these at home, along with a pomegrante and a persimmon. Think I live in the wrong zone?

Edited by tsquare (log)
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