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Everything For and About the Jewish Community in Greater Boston and Beyond
Ethnic Produce Summary Minimize

Ethnic Produce Summary

From Wilson Farm in Lexington


Curry Leaf:

Use to flavor hot oil in which dish is to be cooked.

Unmistakable fragrance and flavor.

Drop in entire stem of small, shiny, pointed leaflets.

Fresh curry leaves will cause oil to hiss and spatter so stand back.


Curry leaves keep very well, use within a couple of weeks.

Leaves may be dried in a very low oven and kept indefinitely in an airtight container.


Banana Flower:

Deep purple-crimson colored. Native to areas from Sri Lanka to Laos.

Also known as Banana heart in South East Asia due to shape and color.


Look for fresh flowers with bright color.

Store in wrapping in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator

May be eaten raw, delicious sliced and served with a flavorful dip

To cook, peel away outer layers until inner, paler portion is revealed.



Small oval fruit with bright yellow or crimson skin with short fleshy hairs.

Contains a narrow seed covered with semi-transparent flesh which is crisp and sweet.

Comes from the Malay word meaning hair.

 Makes an excellent addition to dessert fruit.

To serve: Sit the skin in quarters, peel back skin pieces like petals and serve.


Chinese Okra:

Strongly ribbed, elongated and cylindrical in shape.

Fruit should be six to eight inches in length and tender

Fresh Chinese Okra may be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks if kept cool and humid.

Chinese Okra is low in calories – a 3 ounce serving has only 20 calories and is a good source of Vitamin C.

Dried Okra may be stored indefinitely.

Completely dried fruits are desirable if the inside “loofah” is to be removed and used.

Dried interior sponge is popular as a beauty aid


Taro Leaf:.

Native to Southeast Asia.

Similar in taste and texture to the Taioba leaf native to Central and South America

Use as a leafy green much like spinach.

Best served cooked, either steamed or sauted.

Cooks down similar to Spinach, 2 cups fresh taro leaf will cook down to ½ cup.


Chinese Eggplant:

Eggplant native to India and Pakistan, domesticated over 4000 years ago.

Introduced to China in 500 BC

Usually lavender or white, long and thin. Resembles a small zucchini.

Sweeter and more tender than regular eggplant

Thin, pleasant tasting skin is rarely peeled. Adds texture and flavor to the dish.

Eggplant should be heavy for size with firm, glossy skin.

Chinese eggplant has shorter shelf than regular eggplant.

Refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to a week.

Rinse and pat dry before cooking.


Japanese Eggplant:

Smaller than the Chinese eggplant

Dark purple skin

Skin is thin and rarely needs to be peeled before preparing

A bit more bitter than the Chinese eggplant

Eggplant should be heavy for size with firm, glossy skin.


Indian Eggplant:

Eggplant native to India and Pakistan, domesticated over 4000 years ago.

Small, round or oval fruit

Skin is thin and rarely needs to be peeled before preparing

Eggplant should be heavy for size with firm, glossy skin.


Chinese Bitter Melon:

Warty skin with an oblong shape, tapering ends and pale green

Thin layer of flesh surrounds a central seed filled with large flat seeds and pith.

Seeds and pith appear white in unripe fruit, ripening to red and sweetening.

Skin is tender and edible

Fruit is most commonly eaten when green.

Flesh is crunchy and juicy.

Turns yellowish as it begins to ripens and flesh becomes bitter.

A “bitter gourd face” is a common Chinese expression describing a serious or sad face.


Indian Bitter Melon:

Narrower shape with pointed ends

Suface is covered with jagged trainular “teeth”.

Skin is green to white

Often prepared with potatoes and served with yogurt to offset the bitterness.

Bitter melon stimulates digestion and acts as a mild anti-inflammatory



Also known as Taro Root

Native to Central and South America, Caribbean and Asia

Store cool and dry, around 50°

Starch root with a combination of potato, water chestnut and artichoke flavors

Peel the root and prepare as you would potatoes


Yuca Root/Cassava:

Also known as Tapioca

Store cool and dry, 40 to 45°

Native to Central and South America, now grown in the US

Outer bark covers a linen-white meat.

Dense and starchy

Use in soups and stews to absorb moisture or as a thickener in desserts

Peel the root and prepare as you would potatoes

Good source of iron


Star Fruit:

Also known as Carambola.

Native to Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka.

Popular throughout Asia and grown in the Caribbean as well as South and Central America

Now being commercially grown in the US – southern Florida and Hawaii

Juicy Tropical Fruit which turns bright yellow with light tinges of green when ripe.

Some dark brown along the five ridges is normal.

Flesh should still be quite firm.

Star fruit can be purchased green and left on the counter to ripen for a few days.

Chemical characteristics similar to grapefruit.

Only 30 calories per fruit

Good source of Vitamin C, makes Star fruit especially popular during winter months to prevent colds and flu

Full of antioxidants and flavonoids



Herb native to Tropical Americas and West Indies

Fresh leaves used as seasoning herb for meat

Widely used in dishes throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and the Far East.

Closely related to cilantro and coriander

Rich in calcium, iron, carotene and riboflavin

Has been used for medicinal properties as tea for flu and fevers.

The root is is eaten raw as antidote to scorpion stings and to alleviate stomach pains.


Baby Banana:

Smallest and sweetest of all banana varieties

Native to Colombia

Bananas are harvested and shipped while still green

Ripe fruit is about 3” long, with a thick, bright yellow peel and pale, creamy, dense flesh

As with all bananas, baby bananas should be purchased while still relatively green

Select fruit with smooth, unblemished skin

Store at room temperature

Wholesome source of complex carbohydrates, perfect energy boost for active kids and adults

Excellent source of Vitamin B6

Good source of Vitamin C, fiber and potassium


Green Chili Pepper:

Also known as Anaheim Pepper

Large, mild pepper

Bright green with a shiny skin, which ripens to a red color in late fall

Chile Peppers are native to South America and have been part of diet since at least 7,500 BC

Columbus first encountered chiles on his voyages west.

He likened the taste to the pepper spice of the Far East and named them peppers taking them back to Europe as proof he had indeed found a new route to Asia.

Spanish trade with the Far East introduced the chile pepper to the Philippines, India, and China during the early 1500’s.

High in B Vitamins, potassium, magnesium and iron.