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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Editor's Choice: Frieda's, Inc.

There’s an old saying: You can’t judge a book by its cover. A treasure trove of specialty produce we recently received from Frieda’s, Inc. ( proved that applies to other things as well.

As we opened the box, some things looked familiar, such as the Zulu queen baby pineapple. Only 5 inches high, it can be used as regular pineapple. A co-worker who enjoyed it for breakfast reported it was very sweet.

I have to admit, some of the fruit, while vivid in color, looked a little frightening. Pieces had lots of horns, thorns and prickly things. The dragon fruit, aptly named, has green-tipped scales. The fruit itself has earthy taste, something like a pear, but not as sweet.  I’ve tasted passion fruit juice, but never thought about using it to top ice cream.

I discovered in the box, a treat that brought a flood of good memories. It was a bunch of red bananas. My great-grandfather worked selling fruit and my mom had told me about red bananas. Growing up in the Midwest and only having yellow bananas, it almost seemed like the stuff of myths. I put it aside to try after lunch. The red banana had more substance and a little sweeter flavor than a yellow banana cousin.

But the biggest surprise, was yet to come. It was something called rambutan eyeball -- and it was hairy and strange looking. My Chinese co-worker was very excited when she saw a bag of them.She said the fruit is very popular. Interestingly, she didn’t know its name in English. Anyway, she picked up one, cut it open and insisted I try it. Out of its skin, the fruit had a slippery texture, but the taste was rich and a little sweet. I could see why it was so highly prized. She happily took home the remainder of the bag.

That was my introduction to exotic fruit. For gourmet retailers, I could see a selection of these fruits as a way to bring interest and color to your produce section. And of course, sampling would be ideal.