Hey! How’s it going? I’m here to tell you about some fruit trees that are a little less sought after but some of my favorite! If I was planting an orchard, these are some of the out of the ordinary trees I would include!
This is a gorgeous tree, growing up to 20ft tall with large glossy leaves. Native to Mexico and truly in the persimmon family; this delicious fruit is lightly sweet with a chocolatey flavor. It bears fruit within 5-7 years December-February, sometimes earlier, sometimes longer. I gather, skin and deseed the fruit and freeze it. Yes, they freeze well and my supply lasts until the next fruiting season! I add a shake of cocoa powder to my smoothies, pies and I’ve even tried “banana” bread! I’ve perfected use of this fruit into the most delicious chocolate pudding, but way healthier because you don’t have all the stuff that’s in Jello’s boxes. If you want this tree, but aren’t sure what to do with the fruit, come see me at the nursery, I’ll gladly share some recipes!
This is a fruit tree we start from seed at the nursery. It’s a small 10-25 ft tall winter deciduous tree, bearing fruit in “fall” (because I’m from the Midwest and still consider the months of Sept-Nov to be fall). This tree tolerates lowland tropical climate better than cherimoya (occasionally requested) (AgroForestryTree Database. International Center for Research in AgroForestry, 5-26-2011). I’ve tried several of the ‘sweet sops’ –Rollinia, Cherimoya, Atemoya and sugar apple is my favorite. Strikingly sweet, the flavor reminds me of the custard ice cream from Kopps in Milwaukee I used to get as a kid. I’ve also heard others liken the flavor to fruit loops. I mostly just eat these cold, however as of late I’ve been tediously processing out the skin and seeds (similar to soursop) and freezing it. So worth it. Crazy delicious smoothies alone or with a strawberry mixed, Yum!
I also love Mulberry. Sweet with a bit of tang, I eat these fresh off the tree until my face turns blue! …or purple…like a dark berry does. Small shrubs and easily maintained. Best if you prune often because it bears fruit on new growth. Mulberries are cool. They come in black, red and white and we carry the black (the best flavor in my opinion). They come from all over, from Southern Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa, the Indian Subcontinent…you can tell this fruit is well traveled by its flavor, only a world of experience can produce such a scrumptious taste.
Brazil Cherry sometimes called Brazil plum. I’ve never actually tasted this fruit, but I want to because I love plums AND cherries, so take my opinion with a grain of salt—or sugar since we’re talking fruit. A Eugenia, related to the Surinam cherry—very often requested—considered the best; white pulp and the most similar to a true cherry. It’s hardy, compact and adaptable. It stays small and fruits several times a year. Fruit ripens quickly and all at once. I highly suggest this tree (and bring some fruit back for me to try) if you’re looking for tropical Rainier Cherries or Door County Cherries (quite comparable, but of course I’m biased).
Breadfruit Ok so this one most people know, at least the leaves are largely iconic for Hawaiian print patterns, but I love it so here it is: Large trees. Definitely enough fruit on one tree to feed you and your neighborhood. It’s best to prune this tree regularly to keep it short, otherwise you have a mess of breadfruit to clean up because they’re too high to reach. Cons aside, the pros totally outweigh them anyways: Most versatile fruit—from pancakes, pies, sweet breads, “burgers” “French fries” “potatoes” I even use ripe Ulu in smoothies—hey I eat a lot of smoothies, you gotta diversify. Use is reflective of maturity. Large, green firm breadfruit-unripe- are used for savory dinner dishes, keep it in the fridge to preserve firmness. Soft, yellowish to brown breadfruit are the ripe ones. Leave an unripe breadfruit on your counter if you want a ripe one to use for dessert dishes. Ulu will take on any spice you choose, I substitute it like bananas or pumpkin or potatoes or rice.
Check out my favorite bread recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2012/04/11/big-fat-coconut-breakfast-cake-2/ it’s vegan, and it calls for banana or pineapple, but equally substitute ripe ulu and you’ll have a new sweet bread for your repertoire.
Lastly, Vanilla. Having this plant has saved me a lot of money over the years because I bake a lot and use vanilla like crazy. Now I make my own and it tastes way better than store-bought (of course). Vanilla is an orchid, it vines vigorously once established (like 5+ years in my experience). Give it part shade and something strong to climb on. It’s epiphytic and produces more strongly after extended drought seasons. It flowers in February and March and requires hand pollinating in the morning-like before 10am-otherwise the window of fertilization is lost. I use a chopstick to move the pollen to the pistil and the pollen is actually quite large and sticky. It’s like half the size of a grain of rice, yellow and visible. If the flowers hold till the next day, pollination was successful. If they fall off, you failed, try again. There’s lots of videos on YouTube showing how to pollinate. You can do it. It’s quite meditative. Like weeding. Vanilla beans take one year to ripen, they turn yellow and then black. Occasionally, they will split open; at which point I pick them so the goodies don’t fall out. If you pick them when they’re yellow, blacken them on your dashboard to keep them dry and sunny and your car will smell good too. Making extract is simple, put several split blackened beans in a jar and fill it with booze. I’ve done Vodka and Rum and prefer the latter, more flavor. I’ve also been told you can do whisky and brandy, pick your poison, but I’ve never been able to shoot whisky… How long you cure it is up to you and the flavor you want. I start at 3 months and when I empty a jar, I refill it and use the beans again.
There you have it. A quick overview of some crazy cool fruit trees other than the typical citrus, avocado and mango—which I’m not knocking, I love them too. When I grow up and plant an orchard I’ll definitely include the typical stuff and make sure I have space for these 6 specialty fruits. Until then, I’ll be helping all of you looking to broaden your taste buds and your orchards.
This blog was written by Seascapes employee, Holly.