Here in Florida, many Tropical Fruits are available. Listed below are my favorites.
POMEGRANATE: Love this fruit. I saw a new contraption on YouTube for getting the seeds out nice and clean. It worked. This fruit can be grown in Florida. It is a shrubby tree…grows 6-12 feet tall. I’ve got just the place for one in my backyard. Think I will give it a try – that is if I can find someone who sells the tree.
LOQUAT: I do have one of these trees. The squirrels love the fruit. One day I looked at my tree and said to myself…this is going to be a good harvest. Two days later the whole top of the tree looked like I had pruned it. Had to be the squirrels. It’s fruit is a tasty small yellow to orange fruit…has a big seed inside. Tastes kind of like a cross between a peach and a pear to me. It can’t be bought in stores because it doesn’t ship or store well.
FIG: I have this one too. It has taken a long time to grow….I put it in a pot because this can become a pretty big tree and I didn’t have the space. I didn’t know the color of figs range from green to purple. I had two green ones and was waiting for them to get ripe….The squirrels got them too.
MACADAMIA: I haven’t tried this tree. It was interesting, to discover it also is an “attractive evergreen ornamental” tree. I had better find a spot for this one….as I love those expensive to buy nuts. This tree grows great in Hawaii. However, it is listed as a tree that also grows well in Florida.
AVOCADO: How many times have you tried planting those big seeds in a pot? Did you know Florida and California fruits have different nutritional values? Did you know the tree has male and female flowers on the same tree, and you get fruit sporadically if they don’t bloom at the same time? I’ve had the trees grow and then die, or if they live – have bore no fruit. I have never seen a flower on my trees. Does anyone have any suggestions about how to plant and grow them to get fruit?
BANANA: This is a big tree. It needs lots of space and water. As I have the lack of space I haven’t tried to grow these trees, but have friends who grow them well in their yards.
LYCHEE: I always thought, as many of you may have, that this was a nut-tree. It is not, it is a fruit. This tree is also an evergreen. The tree likes humus. There is a Vietnamese family near where I live that farm these trees. They sell the fruit to China and then China sells the fruit back to the United States to stores like Wal-Mart. I first saw the fruit at Wal-Mart store in Canada. Anyway, mulch…lots and lots of mulch is always piled around bottom to hold the moisture in the root system. I love the fresh fruit, but have seen them canned in some grocery stores.
MANGO: When ripe…the taste of this fruit cannot be beat. However, my first experience was with eating a not so ripe fruit – which left a bitter taste in my mouth for this one. I have since learned to love mangos. There are many varieties – that is why so many different shapes and sizes are on display in the grocery store.
PAPAYAS: I have been growing this tree for over 30 years here in Florida. It is another species with many shapes and sizes of fruit. I plant the seeds…get many trees and then sort them out. Some growers still say you need a male and a female tree to get fruit. However, I did purchase a bisexual tree, out of curiosity. It bore the best fruit I’ve ever eaten. I planted the seeds – gave away the trees – and now many of my neighbors are growing papaya trees with great fruit. I think that kind of blew the male/female theory. However, if you can’t find a bisexual tree you do need a male tree among the female trees to get fruit. Papaya is also the source for pepsin in meat tenderizers. This fruit works wonders in the digestive tract.
PINEAPPLE: My very favorite. I have had great success growing pineapples in pots. When ripe, I twist the top off, and peel off the bottom leaves until I see the little root sprouts. Then, I put the top in a glass of water for a few days before I plant it or I plant it right away. Either way works. I put a little Miracle Grow around the bottom of the plant, water it when it needs water, and in 12 to 18 months I have a pineapple. I have 3-4 plants growing at staggered times so I have fruit to eat on a regular basis every 12 – 18 months. Love that Hawaiian Queen variety. Pineapple is a great source for pain relief because of the Bromelain content in the fruit.
STAR FRUIT (Averrhoa carambola): The five-angled star fruit, also known as carambola, is a waxy yellow-green tropical fruit. Again, described as a bushy evergreen tree, I have seen several varieties here in Florida that don’t look like evergreen trees to me. They grow well here, as they are not cold tolerant. Usually the taste is described as a cross between an apple and a grape. I always take the seeds out, but read that they are edible….therefore you can eat the whole fruit. Well known for its Vitamin C content – it provides 76% of the daily recommended value in one single serving. It also provides fiber, copper, pantothenic acid and potassium. It also has B-Complex nutrients. There is a tart variety and a sweet variety. I’ve yet to find the tart or bitter variety. Natural fructose provides the sweetness in the sweet variety. Therefore it is recommended that you should not eat too much of it….but the nutritional value is awesome.
How do you eat Star Fruit? In many ways. Choose fruits that are still firm, not mushy and do not have brown spots all over them. My neighbor has a huge tree and he brings me Star Fruit on a regular basis when the tree is bearing fruit. If there are mushy ones – I use them in smoothies. However, First, wash the fruit thoroughly – scrub it with your fingers and not a brush – or the skin will peel off. Second, with a sharp knife, cut the fruit across its broad side so that it is divided into star-shaped slices. Cut at least 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide. Now you can take out the seeds, eat and enjoy.
Other uses include: putting the cut up pieces in chicken soup, in lettuce or fruit salads, in cookies, cakes, pies, breads, make juice, and smoothies etc. You can even pickle them and make relish with them.
COCONUT: Last, but not least on my list of fruit….is another of my favorites. I do not grow Coconut Trees. I don’t have the room in my yard for one. Coconut is coming into its own as far as nutritional value, and Coconut Oil is the big item today. It is used in cooking, baking and even as skin care. I will blog more on that later. I love to cook with coconut oil. It is the cleanest oil to use in popcorn makers and the popcorn tastes better. I also use it as a skin moisturizer. It works miracles, at least for me.
There are many more tropical fruit trees that could be added to this list, but the ones listed are the easiest, in my opinion, to grow in the area in which I live – of Southwest Florida.
HAPPY TESTING, TASTING AND EATING!