Daily Archives: August 23, 2009

Fruit Of The Week STAR FRUIT / CARAMBOLA

Ayesha's Kitchen

Ayesha's Kitchen

Carambola or starfruit is the fruit of Averrhoa carambola, a species of tree native to Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka. The tree and its fruit are popular throughout Southeast Asia, Malaysia, the South Pacific and other parts of East Asia. The tree is cultivated also throughout the tropics such as in Trinidad, Guyana, and Brazil, and, in the United States, in south Florida, and Hawaii.

The carambola is closely related to the bilimbi. The fruit in cross section is a five-pointed star, hence its name.

Origin and Distribution

The carambola has been grown in parts of Asia for hundreds of years – some claim that it originated in Sri Lanka and Moluccas. Malaysia is the global leader in starfruit production by volume, and ships the product all over Asia and Europe.

Due to concerns on pests and pathogens, however, whole starfruits cannot yet be imported to the US from Malaysia, under current FDA/USDA regulation. In the United States, starfruits are grown in tropical and semi tropical areas, including Florida, Puerto Rico and Hawaii.

Gastronomy

Carambolas are best consumed when ripe, when they are yellow with a light shade of green. It will also have brown ridges at the five edges and feel firm. An overripe fruit will be yellow with brown spots.

The fruit is entirely edible, including the slightly waxy skin. It is sweet without being overwhelming and extremely juicy. The taste is difficult to compare, but it has been likened to a mix of papaya, orange and grapefruit all at once.

Health benefits

Star fruit is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, and low in sugar, sodium and acid. Star fruit is a potent source of both primary and secondary polyphenolic antioxidants.

Health risks

Carambola is a fairly complex fruit with many benefits like strawberries, but a small percent of the human population should be cautious of the fruit for health reasons. Like the grapefruit, carambola contains oxalic acid which can be harmful to individuals suffering from kidney failure or under kidney dialysis treatment. Consumption by those with kidney failure can produce hiccups, vomiting, nausea, and mental confusion, and fatal outcomes have been documented in some patients.

Drug interactions

Like the grapefruit, star fruit is considered to be a potent inhibitor of seven cytochrome P450 isoforms. These enzymes are significant in the first pass elimination of many medicines, and thus the consumption of star fruit or its juice in combination with certain medications can significantly increase their effective dosage within the body. Research into grapefruit juice has identified a number of common medications affected, including statins which are commonly used to treat cardiovascular illness, benzodiazepines (a tranquilizer family including diazepam) as well as other medicines

Cultivation

The carambola is a tropical and subtropical fruit. In India, it grows in up to 4,000 feet in elevation. It prefers a total exposition to the sun, but requires enough humidity and a total of 70 inches or more of rainfall a year. It does not have a preference in grounds but it requires a good drainage.

Carambola trees are planted at least 20 feet from each other, and fertilized three times a year. The tree grows fast and produces food at 4 or 5 years of age, sometimes even before that. The large amount of rain during spring actually reduces the amount of fruit, but in ideal conditions carambola can produce from 200 to 400 pounds of fruit a year. The fruit is cultivated mainly during the months of June, July, and August, but sometimes year-round.

Major pests are fruit flies, ants, and birds. Crops are also susceptible to frosts, especially in the United States.

Recipes:

Will be updated soon in Ayesha’s kitchen.

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Vegetable Of The Week GINGER

Ayesha's Kitchen

Ayesha's Kitchen

Ginger is a tuber which is consumed whole as a delicacy, medicine or used as spice for cooking or tea. It is the underground stem of the ginger plant, Zingiber officinale. Besides its genus, the plant family to which it belongs–Zingiberaceae–was also named after ginger. Other notable members of this plant family are turmeric, cardamom and galangal.

The ginger plant has a long history of cultivation, having originated in Asia and is grown in India, Southeast Asia, West Africa and the Caribbean. It is sometimes called “root ginger” to distinguish it from other things that share the name “ginger”.

Chemistry

The characteristic odor and flavor of ginger root is caused by a mixture of zingerone, shogaols and gingerols, volatile oils that compose about one to three percent of the weight of fresh ginger. In laboratory animals, the gingerols increase the motility of the gastrointestinal tract and have analgesic, sedative, antipyretic and antibacterial properties.

Ginger sectionGinger contains up to three percent of a fragrant essential oil whose main constituents are sesquiterpenoids, with (-)-zingiberene as the main component. Smaller amounts of other sesquiterpenoids (β-sesquiphellandrene, bisabolene and farnesene) and a small monoterpenoid fraction (β-phelladrene, cineol, and citral) have also been identified.

The pungent taste of ginger is due to nonvolatile phenylpropanoid-derived compounds, particularly gingerols and shogaols, which form from gingerols when ginger is dried or cooked. Zingerone is also produced from gingerols during this process; this compound is less pungent and has a spicy-sweet aroma. Ginger is also a minor chemical irritant, and because of this was used as a horse suppository by pre-World War I mounted regiments for feaguing.

Ginger has a sialagogue action, stimulating the production of saliva, which makes swallowing easier.

Usage

Culinary Usage:

Young ginger rhizomes are juicy and fleshy with a very mild taste. They are often pickled in vinegar or sherry as a snack or just cooked as an ingredient in many dishes. They can also be stewed in boiling water to make ginger tea, to which honey is often added as a sweetener; sliced orange or lemon fruit may also be added. Mature ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry. The juice from old ginger roots is extremely potent[citation needed] and is often used as a spice in Indian recipes and Chinese cuisine to flavor dishes such as seafood or mutton and vegetarian recipes. Powdered dry ginger root (ginger powder) is typically used to spice gingerbread and other recipes. Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of 6 parts fresh for 1 part ground, although the flavors of fresh and dried ginger are not exactly interchangeable. 

Ginger is also made into candy, is used as a flavoring for cookies, crackers and cake, and is the main flavor in ginger ale—a sweet, carbonated, non-alcoholic beverage, as well as the similar, but spicier ginger beer which is popular in the Caribbean.

Fresh ginger should be peeled before being eaten. For storage, the ginger should be wrapped tightly in a towel and placed in a plastic bag, and can be kept for about three weeks in a refrigerator and up to three months in a freezer.

Medicinal Usage:

The medical form of ginger historically was called “Jamaica ginger”; it was classified as a stimulant and carminative, and used frequently for dyspepsia and colic. It was also frequently employed to disguise the taste of medicines. Ginger is on the FDA’s ‘generally recognized as safe’ list, though it does interact with some medications, including warfarin. Ginger is contraindicated in people suffering from gallstones as the herb promotes the release of bile from the gallbladder. Ginger may also decrease joint pain from arthritis, though studies on this have been inconsistent, and may have blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties that may make it useful for treating heart disease.

Diarrhea

Ginger compounds are active against a form of diarrhea which is the leading cause of infant death in developing countries. Zingerone is likely to be the active constituent against enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin-induced diarrhea.

Nausea

Ginger has been found effective in multiple studies for treating nausea caused by seasickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy, though ginger was not found superior over a placebo for post-operative nausea.

Recipes:

In Ayesha’s Kitchen, you can Find a huge number of recipes containing ginger in Indian, Pakistani and Curries and Gravies Categories.

Prawn Pizza

Prawn Pizza is gorgeous Isn’t it ???

Ingredients:

  • 1 thin pizza base/ dough maker’s pizza base
  • 10 – 20 cooked peeled prawns*
  • 4 tbspns pizza sauce
  • 1 tspn oregano
  • ¼ tspn Fresh cracked black pepper
  • 6 – 8 cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup tasty cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup mozzarella
  • 2 tbspns olive oil

Procedure:

-Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

-Prepare a pizza base, apple olive oil, pizza sauce and cheese.

-Place prawns and cherry tomatoes and top them with some black pepper and oregano.

-Bake For 20 minutes in a preheated oven on 200 degrees Celsius.

-Slice and serve.

Outcome:

Lovely prawn pizza with tangy cherry tomatoes is ready to serve.

Ayesha's Kitchen

Ayesha's Kitchen

Tips:

-Take small size cherry tomatoes.

-See “Tips” page For more details of pizza base.

Servings:

This will serve 4 persons easily.

 

*Refer to “Glossary” page.