Ask the Tropical Fruit Experts
What do you do when your tropical fruit tree has a bumper crop? Ask members of groups like the Rare Fruit and Vegetable Council and the Tropical Fruit and Vegetable Society of Redland – they have lots of tips and recipes:
Dry ripe fruits to make leathers for snacks and other uses. It’s a great way to use an abundance of mango, banana, starfruit, pineapple, papaya, strawberries. tomatoes, carrots, herbs and other vegetables. Invest in a dehydrator – they start at about $30. Farmer Margie Pikarsky of Bee Heaven Farm, recommends slicing your produce thicker than you think you need because they shrink so much. Also, “you don’t need to add anything to get great results – if you decide to season tomatoes, for example, use a lot less than you think, because shrinking concentrates the flavor,” she says. She also recommends drying more than normal, then double-bagging your dried fruits and vegetables in zip-top bags and storing in the refrigerator. “In our humid climate, dehydrated items will rehydrate and spoil if not kept well sealed,” she says.
Fruit snacks: Slice mango, banana, starfruit, pineapple and/or papaya and dry according to directions. Store in airtight containers.
Fruit leathers: Puree ripe fruits and follow directions for leather. Murray Corman suggests combining fruits and pureeing them to create new flavor combinations. Store in airtight containers.
In recipes: Add dehydrated vegetables and fruits to savory sauces, curries, stews and other dishes. Store in airtight containers.
Fruit Smoothies and Shakes
These are easy and highly customizable, depending on your taste. Mix and match fruits.
Basic smoothie: Combine in blender ripe fruit (fresh or frozen), water and ice cubes and blend until smooth.
Protein smoothie: Add whey powder to fruit and liquid (milk or yogurt). Add-ins: cashews, almonds, walnuts; honey or agave; vanilla or other flavoring (just a few drops).
Shake: Combine fruit (frozen works best) with a scoop or two of ice milk or ice cream and milk.
Tamarind fruits bring sweet/tart punch to chutneys, juices and sauces, but did you know tiny tamarind leaves add tangy brightness to salads when added to other greens?
Make Your Own Pet-Safe Snail Bait
This nontoxic solution to controlling snails, a common garden pest, came from two young women at a science fair, reports Corman. Make a puree of papaya leaves or fruit, wheat flour and honey and leave it out as snail bait. Papain, the enzyme in papaya, causes the snails to “melt.”