In The Media

Fig: the sweet fruit – Taste&Flavors

Common fig or Ficus Carica, is one of the oldest fruit trees native to the Mediterranean region, more specifically the Middle East where remnants of fig cultivation dating back to 5,000 BC have been found in Jordan, Syria and Iraq.

Fig: Taste&Flavors

Check out the full article in Taste&Flavors magazine.

Eat Local

Prickly pear or cactus fruits

Cactus fruits are packed with a number of nutrients and vitamins!
Cactus fruits are packed with a number of nutrients and vitamins!

Comes the summer and you start noticing ambulant merchants with spiny yellow and orange fruits on their charts… Prickly pears!

Also known as cactus fruits or “sobbeir” in Arabic, prickle pear trees were found along the Lebanese coast, especially in the northern and southern parts up to 900m of altitude; people grew them as fences for their gardens and orchards, but also benefited from the tasty fruits consumed fresh or used for Arak processing.

No wonder why they used to plant cactus trees as garden hedges :) ©TasteofBeirut
No wonder why they used to plant cactus trees as garden hedges 🙂 ©TasteofBeirut

Cactus trees are very well adapted to arid and semi-arid climates, and have been cultivated for long time in Lebanon. Although the southern villages around the Hasbani River have produced more than ten thousand tons of fresh fruits during the past 5 years, this crop is still underutilized with absence of governmental support.  A virus that infected the plantations in the south has caused a drastic decline in the production in 2015.

However, planting cactus – Opuntia ficus indica (L.) Mill – is not an expensive production and does not require a lot of maintenance and attention, hence it could be considered as a new source of income to small farmers and contribute to the biodiversity of the farms.

Prickly pear are delicious fruits with many health benefits: they are packed with a number of nutrients including calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. They are also a very rich source of Vitamin C which makes this fruit a booster for the immune system.

[quote]A medium sized prickly pear fruit provides 1/3 of the entire daily need of vitamin C![/quote]

Cactus fruits also contain a significant amount of fibers that are very beneficial to the digestive system among other health benefits. These high-fiber fruits are also an excellent source of antioxidants and carotenoids having an important role in fighting diseases.

Peeling prickly pears can be tricky because of the tiny needles that cover their skin.
Peeling prickly pears can be tricky because of the tiny needles that cover their skin

How to safely peel this delicious fruit??  

Peeling the cactus fruit can be painful, because of thorns covering its skin. These small thorns called glochids are so thin that you don’t even feel them when they enter your skin.

Cactus fruits can be peeled using one of these methods:

  1. With a knife and wearing thick gloves: cut both ends of the prickly pear off, slice the body of the fruit vertically, peel the fleshy skin
  2. Using a brush: remove the thorns and then cut the fruit
  3. Soak the fruits in water for an hour and peel them under a running tap

cactus fruit 3

Eat Local

Fall-ing for persimmon

kakiThe persimmon (known as kaki) is a sweet, slightly tangy fruit with a soft to occasionally fibrous texture. Native to China, this fruit with broad, stiff leaves has been introduced to our region long time ago, and is now a fruit that announces fall season!

kaki 3Persimmon is rich with pro-anthocyanidin, a type of tannin which give the immature fruit an astringent and bitter taste. As the fruit matures, the tannin levels are reduced.

Although kaki fruits are harvested while immature, they are only edible when allowed to rest and soften.

[quote]Immature fruits are stored under room temperature, with either banana or apple to accelerate their ripening. The fruits are put together in a box, bowl or bag and covered: the ethylene gas produced by the apples and bananas allow persimmons to ripe.[/quote]

Ripe fruits have a soft jelly-like consistency and hence are eaten with a spoon.

kaki 1

Persimmons are rich in a an array of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C,vitamin E and vitamin B6, as well as dietary fiber, manganese, copper, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous.

kaki 4

In Lebanon, persimmon is known as “kharma” and is harvested in autumn. The colors of kharma trees during fall, create beautiful landscapes. Kharma are also processed into jams and juice.

kaki 2