Fruit Category

Fruit
Includes berries, citrus fruit, melons, tropical fruit, and tomatoes
Fruits are the matured ovaries of plants, containing the seeds for the next generation of plants. Many plants cunningly make their fruits sweet, the better to attract animals like us to eat them and disperse the seeds. Fruits are often delicious enough to eat out of hand, but they can also be made into tarts, compotes, shakes, juices, preserves, liqueurs, and many other things.
Northern Spy apple
Northern Spy apple
These tart, firm apples are terrific in pies, but they're hard to find.
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Nyon olive
Nyon olives
These black olives from France are salt-cured, which makes them wrinkly and more bitter than standard lye-cured American black olives.
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Ogen melon, Desert melon, Ha'Ogen, Israel cantaloupe
Ogen melon
This melon hails from Israel, and it's very highly regarded by melon fans.
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olallieberry, olallie berry
olallieberry
This cross between a youngberry and a loganberry is black and fairly sweet.
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Olives
Olives
A staple of Mediterranean cuisines, olives are most often eaten out of hand, though cooks also use them to flavor everything from pizzas to martinis. Raw olives must be cured before they can be eaten, and the curing medium--usually lye, brine, or salt--affects their flavor and texture. So too does the olive's degree of ripeness when it's picked. Green olives are picked while unripe, which makes them denser and more bitter than brown or black olives, which stay on the tree until fully ripened. Olives become bitter if they're cooked too long, so always add them to hot dishes at the last minute. Opened cans or jars of olives should be refrigerated, but some olives can be stored at room temperature if they're submerged in brine or olive oil.
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Onza roja chili
Onza roja chili
These are used in sauces and soups. They're hot.
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opo squash, cucuzza, long squash, bottle gourd, calabash, New Guinea bean
opo squash
This is a mild squash, similar to zucchini.
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orange, sweet orange
orange
Most American oranges are produced in Florida and California. Florida oranges are juicier, and better suited to squeezing, while California oranges segment more easily and are better for eating out of hand. The best oranges are smaller, thin-skinned, and heavy for their size.
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orange marmalade, marmalade, Orange
orange marmalade
This is made by boiling the fruit and peel of oranges with sugar, pectin, and water. It manages to be bitter, sour, and sweet all at once, which many people find delightful.
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Otaheite gooseberry, Malay gooseberry, starberry, star gooseberry, cheremai
Otaheite gooseberry
This tart fruit looks and tastes like a gooseberry.
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papaya, fruta bomba, lechosa, papaw, pawpaw, tree melon
papaya
With their subtle tropical flavor, papayas are wonderful in fruit salads, puréed fruit drinks, or even shish kabobs. They're also good for you and easy to peel and seed. Papayas from Hawaii are more common and more flavorful than those from Mexico. Yellow ones that yield to gentle pressure are ready to eat, and should be refrigerated. Green ones will ripen at room temperature in just a few days.
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pasilla chili, chile negro, pasilla negro, pasilla pepper, chile mixe
pasilla chili
This is the dried version of the chilaca chili. It's mild, long, black, and wrinkled, and a standard ingredient in mole sauces. Ancho chilies are sometimes mislabeled as pasillas.
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passion fruit, granadilla, maracudja, maracuja, passion-fruit
passion fruit
This nutritious, aromatic fruit has a tart, sweet flavor. The sweet purple variety is the most common, but you can also find yellow passion fruit (sometimes called golden passion fruit), which is more acidic, and a giant version that has a more subtle flavor. Choose fruit that have wrinkled skins (indicating that they're ripe) and heavy for their size. To eat one, cut it in half and scoop out the pulp. You can eat the small seeds, but some people remove them.
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pattypan squash, custard squash, cymling, granny squash, peter pan squash
pattypan squash
These have a pleasant, nutty flavor. They're small enough to grill whole, but lots of recipes call for them to be hollowed out, stuffed, and baked. There are green and yellow varieties; yellow ones are sometimes called sunburst squash.
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pawpaw, papaw
pawpaw
Real pawpaws are native to North America, and have green peels, orange flesh, and taste like a blend of tropical fruit. They're hard to find in markets, though, since they must be eaten within a few days of being picked. Pawpaws continue to ripen after they're picked, and should be eaten only when they yield to a gentle squeeze, like a ripe avocado. Australians use the name pawpaw for the papaya, while others use it for the cherimoya.
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pea eggplants, baby Thai eggplants makua puong, makheau phuang
pea eggplants
These tiny Thai eggplants are quite bitter. They're sold in clusters and look like large green peas. You can find them fresh in Thai markets, or buy them pickled in jars.
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peach
peach
Most of the peaches that are sold in markets are freestone, and de-fuzzed by the grower. Select peaches that are colorful and free of bruises. After you get them home, let them ripen at room temperature for a day or so until they become softer. They're best and cheapest in the summer.
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pepino, mellowfruit, melon pear, melon shrub, pear melon, pepino melon
pepino
These are juicy and have a mild melon flavor. You can eat the peel if you like.
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pequin pepper dried, piquin pepper, chile congo, chile de monte, chile pequín
pequin pepper dried
These small red peppers are very hot.
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Persian cucumber
Persian cucumber
This is very similar to a Japanese cucumber.
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Persian melon
Persian melon
These are large, round melons. They're excellent when vine-ripened, but mediocre when not. Avoid Persian melons that have green backgrounds below the netting--they were picked too early. Also avoid those with protruding stems, or tears in the rind at the stem end--it's a tell-tale sign that the melon was picked too soon. When ripe melons are picked, the stem falls off easily, leaving a small, clean depression. They peak in the summer months.
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persimmon, Fuyu, Hachiya
persimmon
There are two varieties: the dark orange, acorn-shaped Hachiya and the light orange, tomato-shaped Fuyu. Many people have sworn off persimmons for life after biting into an underripe, astringent Hachiya. But if you wait until it's ripened to a soft, shriveled mess, you can spoon out its exquisitely sweet and delicate pulp. Fuyus aren't as flavorful, but they're more idiot-proof in that you can eat them while they're still firm and not get your mouth in a pucker.
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Picholine olive
Picholine olives
Picholines are green, torpedo-shaped olives that are brine-cured. Those made in Provence are marinated with coriander and herbes de Provence, while American picholines are soaked in citric acid. They make great martini olives.
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pimento, cherry pepper, pimiento
pimento
Pimentos are often sold roasted and peeled in cans or jars, or used to stuff green olives.
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pineapple, golden pineapple
pineapple
Pineapples are juicy, mildly acidic, and very versatile. They can be squeezed for juice, sliced on cakes, skewered and grilled, or eaten raw without adornment. Select only ripe pineapples that give a little when you squeeze them. Hard, unripe pineapples stop becoming sweeter once they're picked. A new variety, the golden pineapple, is sweeter, juicier, and richer in vitamin C than ordinary pineapples. A white pineapple also has been developed. Canned pineapple is an acceptable substitute for fresh in many recipes.
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Pink Lady apple
Pink Lady apple
This is a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Lady William. It's sweet and crisp, and good in salads and pies.
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Pinkerton avocado
Pinkerton avocado
These peel easily and their flavor is excellent. One of the best varieties.
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Pippin apple, Newtown Pippin apple
Pippin apple
This is a firm, tart apple that's great for pies, baking, and applesauce.
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piri piri pepper dried, bird's-eye chili, pili pili, peri peri pepper
piri piri pepper dried
These are insanely hot tiny peppers.
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plantain, Adam's fig, cooking banana, macho banana, platano, platano macho
plantain
These look just like large green bananas, and they're usually cooked before eating. Hispanic and Caribbean use them like potatoes, either frying them or boiling them in stews. Different recipes may call for plantains in varying stages of ripeness, with their skins either green, yellow, or black. A green plantain will first turn yellow and then black if allowed to ripen at room temperature. As it ripens, the pulp becomes sweeter and less starchy.
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plum
plum
Plums are juicier than other stone fruits, and have a longer growing season. There are many varieties, some sweet, some acidic, and some best suited for drying into prunes. They're often eaten out of hand, but they also work well in cobblers, compotes, and tarts.
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pluot
pluot
This is a plum/apricot cross, with plum dominating.
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poblano pepper , ancho chile, pasilla pepper
poblano pepper
These mild, heart-shaped peppers are large and have very thick walls, which make them great for stuffing. They're best in the summer. When dried, this pepper is called an Ancho chili.
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pome Fruit, false fruit
pome Fruit
The family of pome fruits include apples, pears, quinces, Asian pears, and loquats.
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pomegranate, Chinese apple
pomegranate
Cut through the pomegranate's leathery skin, and you'll find hundreds of pretty kernels, each with a tiny seed surrounded by ruby red pulp. You can eat the kernels, seeds and all, and they're great as garnishes or sprinkled in salads. You can also press the kernels for juice and strain out the seeds. Wear an apron when working with pomegranates; the juice can stain your clothes. They arrive in markets in the late summer and early fall.
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pomegranate juice
pomegranate juice
Don't confuse this unsweetened juice with grenadine, which is a heavy, sweet syrup. Look for it in health food stores and Middle Eastern markets. Knudsen is a well-regarded brand.
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pomelo, Chinese grapefruit, pummelo, shaddock
pomelo
This has a very thick peel, so you have to work to get at the pulp. Many people think it's worth the trouble, for a pomelo is milder and sweeter than its closest substitute, the grapefruit.
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Ponentine olives
These are mild Italian brine-cured black olives.
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prickly pear, barbary fig, cactus pear, Indian fig, Indian pear, tuna
prickly pear
The pulp of these cactus fruits is a brilliant red or, occasionally, a yellowish green, and it tastes a bit like watered-down watermelon. Cooks exploit the color by adding slices of the pulp to fruit salads, or by puréeing it and straining out the seeds. They're quite popular in Hispanic countries and around the Mediterranean.
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prune, dried plum
prune
In a marketing makeover, producers are starting to call these dried plums instead of prunes. Whatever you call them, they're sweet and just loaded with dietary fiber, iron, and other nutrients. You can eat them whole, chop them into sauces and stews, or make a compote out of them.
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pumpkin, jack o'lantern pumpkin, pie pumpkin, sugar pumpkin
pumpkin
Use the small sugar pumpkin = pie pumpkin for pies; the larger jack o'lantern pumpkin is too watery. Canned pumpkin purée is convenient and a good substitute for fresh.
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