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Exotic Foods

M a r i a n Va n A t t a

Va n A t t a
Marian
A Kitchen and Garden Guide
W

Exotic Foods
ith over thirty years’ experience cultivating tropical and
subtropical fruits and vegetables, author Marian Van Atta
brings the exotic home in the second edition of this popular guide:
• Learn how to take full advantage of year-round warm weather
(or your sun porch or greenhouse if you live in a colder
climate) and grow rare delights such as the Surinam cherry,
mango, avocado, lychee, and carambola, to name a few.
• Learn how to grow favorite American fruit trees (such as
apples, pears, and peaches) that you never thought could
grow in your subtropical backyard.
• Find sources for exotic edibles as well as valuable tips to
keep them free of pests and producing for years.
A wealth of sumptuous and nutritious recipes, including drinks, main
courses, desserts, relishes, jams, and jellies, are sure to inspire you to
serve your bounty. Whether you are a cook who likes to garden, a
gardener who likes to cook, a plant enthusiast, or simply someone who
loves good food, this thorough garden and
kitchen guide is guaranteed to have some-
thing for you.

M arian Van Atta has been sharing


her knowledge about exotic fruits
and vegetables for many years. Her four
children and four grandchildren help with
growing the plants, sending out seeds, and
developing recipes. Her daughter, Kathy,
drew many of the illustrations for this
book. Her husband, Jack, now retired from

Exotic Foods
the space program, works on the garden
and especially enjoys testing recipes.

Pineapple Press, Inc


S a r a s o t a , F l o r i d a
Cover photo by Cindy Thuma Cover by ospreydesign Pineapple
Press, Inc
A Kitchen and Garden Guide
Exotic Foods
A Kitchen and Garden Guide
M a r i a n Va n A t t a

Pineapple Press, Inc


Sarasota, Florida
Copyright © 2002 by Marian Van Atta

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any
Contents
means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any
information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Introduction: Welcome to a Taste of Sunshine . . . . . . . . . . vii
publisher.

Plants from Warm Climates Freeze Protection, Soil Enrichment,


Inquiries should be addressed to:

Pineapple Press, Inc.


1 Cover Crops,Weed Control, Indoor and Container Cultivation,
Watering, Landscaping with Exotic Edibles . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
P.O. Box 3889
Sarasota, Florida 34230
Citrus Fruit Grapefruit, Oranges and Tangerines, Lemons and
www.pineapplepress.com.
2 Limes, Calamondins and Kumquats, Other Citrus Fruits . . . 9

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Nut and Condiment Trees Macadamia Nuts, Pecan, Nogal,
Van Atta, Marian, 1924–
3 Horseradish Tree, Olive, Pine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Exotic foods : a kitchen and garden guide / [Marian Van Atta].—1st ed.
Favorite American Fruit Trees Apples, Peaches, Pears, Java
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 1-56164-215-0
4 Plum, Persimmon, Elderberry, Mulberry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
1.Tropical fruit. 2.Tropical crops. 3. Cookery (Tropical fruit) I.Title.
Exotic Fruit Trees Avocado, Carambola, Carob, Chocolate,
SB359 .V35 2001
634’.6—dc21
5 Barbados Cherry, Dovyalis, Lychee, Loquats, Mango, Sapodilla,
Indian Jujube, Strawberry Tree, Jaboticaba . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
00-061140
Shrubs Pyracantha, Prickly Pear, Papaya, Guava, Carissa,
First Edition
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 6 Figs, Surinam Cherry, Australian Brush Cherry, Bananas,
Miracle Fruit, Downy Rosemyrtle, Monstera, Achiote,
Design by ospreydesign Pomegranate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
Printed in the United States of America
Fruiting Canes Youngberry, Blackberries, Mysore Raspberries,
7 Roses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115

Plants with Edible Roots and Bulbs Chinese Water Chestnuts,


8 Jicama, Ginger, Jerusalem Artichoke, Sweet Potato, Peanuts,
Chuffa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127

Food-Bearing Vines Grapes, Kiwifruit, Passion Fruit, Chayote,


Acknowledgments
9 Calabaza, Kiwano . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147

10 Useful Plants from Seeds and Cuttings Roselle, Poha Berry,


Pineapple, Aloe,Winged Beans, Quail Grass, Okra, Pigeon Pea,
Gotu-kola. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165
M any people helped to make this book possible. First the read-
ers of my weekly “Living off the Land” column asked for
more information.We then started the “Living off the Land Subtropic
Newsletter.” Readers who contributed articles, recipes, fruit and veg-
Raising Exotic Quail Tiny eggs from tiny birds give great
11 pleasure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187
etables to experiment with and plants to grow are all part of this book.
I am especially grateful to Kaye Cude, Bob and Opal Smith, Elizabeth
Serving Up the Bounty Special and basic recipes for jam Robinson, Lori Smith, Georgiana Kjerulff, Melvin Manthey, Sylvester
12 and jelly, juice-making, wine-making, teas, and special citrus
favorites. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
Rose, Patrick D. Smith, Bill Bixby, Frieda Caplan, J.R. Brooks and Son,
and Dr. Martin Price.
Betty Mackey grouped plants in logical order from our first 74
Appendices issues. Martha Draheim and Peggy Marion put the information on the
1 Rare Fruit Grower and Related Associations . . . . . . . . . . . 201 Macintosh computer, and Anne Van Atta checked my second version.
2 Seed Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203 Dr. Franklin Martin helped with botanical names and technical advice.
3 Fruit Tree Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204 Special thanks to Brigadier General D. E.Thomas of San Antonio,
4 Mail Order Produce and Cooking Supplies . . . . . . . . . . . 206 Texas, Gill Whitton of Tampa, and Tom MacCubbin and Robert
5 Classes, Lectures, and Places to Visit and Learn . . . . . . . . . 207 Vincent Sims of Orlando, for promotional help with their garden radio
Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209 shows.
We thank our subscribers, some of whom have been with us since
Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209 the first issue in 1975. Without their continued support this book
would not have been written.
Pineapple Press is making this book a reality—and we will no
longer have to dig out copies of our first 74 issues.We thank them!

v
vi | Exotic Foods: A Kitchen and Garden Guide
Florida Space Coast Writers’ Conference made it possible for us to
meet Pineapple Press.We thank Ed Kirschner for keeping this organ-
ization alive since 1984.
We thank the staff at Kwik Kopy in Melbourne for printing our
newsletter and the Melbourne Post Office for sending it out all over
the world.
I am especially proud of our contributors, who wrote from their
personal experiences. They come from Florida, California, Arizona,
Introduction
Texas, Ohio, Haiti, Ecuador, and Germany.They helped me share ways
for you to raise and use exotic foods.

W elcome to the taste of sunshine! If you are a gardener who


likes to cook (or eat!), or a cook who likes to garden, then
this book is for you.
Here is a guide to the vast array of exotic fruits and other delicious
edibles from the sunny tropics and subtropics.This book lists and illus-
trates more than 70 useful plants and gives growing instructions,
sources, recipes, and fascinating facts about each one. Mango, pineap-
ple, carambola, roselle, guava, Key lime, orange, blueberry, pomegran-
ate, kiwi, banana, jujube, sapodilla, lychee, macadamia, olive, peanut, fig,
papaya, cactus pear—these and many more fruits, nuts, and plants are
included.
This book also tells how to find and use some of the easier to pre-
pare wild edibles. For flavor, there is nothing like fresh-picked produce,
wild or domesticated. It is an offering from the land that can easily be
yours.
Though some of the plants described in this book may be new to
you, it is not difficult to learn to know, grow, and use them. Like more
familiar plants, the exotics share simple basic needs: fresh air, sunshine,
soil with nutrients, warm weather, and water. Information on each
plant type’s size, soil preference, pest control, best varieties, and special
needs lets you grow a lychee tree as easily as an oak, if your climate is
right.

vii
viii | Exotic Foods: A Kitchen and Garden Guide Introduction | ix
This book gives many workable ideas to gardeners living in the Many years ago I started to experiment with subtropical foods I
subtropics. In the United States this includes zone 9 (as designated by grew at home or found in the wild. For over 20 years, my newspaper
the U.S. Department of Agriculture), where minimum temperatures column,“Living off the Land,” has been sharing what I’ve learned with
are 20 to 30 degrees, and zone 10, with 30 to 40 degrees, and the readers of several newspapers and magazines. My readers—who
newly created zone 11, where temperatures do not drop below 40 include horticulturists, farmers, members of rare fruit clubs, garden
degrees.The new USDA Plant Hardiness Map of the United States on clubs, and amateur gardeners—share information with me, too! My
page 2 shows areas where it frosts occasionally but rarely. The tech- overflowing mailbag prompted me to start a newsletter,“Living off the
niques in this book also work in corresponding regions around the Land” in 1975. Now much of this information, gathered by me and by
world. With a possible global warming trend, and new tissue culture my correspondents and researchers, has been assembled here in one
technology, some of these subtropical plants may be cultivated in other convenient reference.Throughout the book I’ve noted when a section
areas in the future. Except for the largest of the trees, the plants may was contributed by someone else.
also be grown in greenhouses, enclosed atriums, and sun-rooms. In many ways, this book is a trip around the world.The tropics and
In addition to providing exotic flavors, growing food in subtropical subtropics circle the globe, encompassing many cultures and national-
climates brings fresh food to your table year-round.This helps reduce ities. Latin American,African, Oriental, and Mediterranean food plants
the need for preserving. My husband, Jack, and I can easily feast on our can share space in the same backyard. In many cases, the same food
homegrown produce and the fish he catches from nearby waters any types are cultivated, but they are cooked differently by various ethnic
time of the year. groups. You will find some of these fascinating and delicious recipes
Growing your own food assures you of purity and good quality in within these pages. Some words of caution: the first time you try a new
your family’s diet. Even the most familiar foods, such as strawberries exotic food or wild edible, eat only a small amount. There is a slight
and oranges, taste better when fresh picked. And, because many food chance you may have an allergic reaction. Some people are very aller-
plants are attractive in the landscape, growing them enhances the value gic to mangos. Also be sure wild edibles are identified correctly by a
of your property. If more people grew fruit and vegetables, the food local expert before you eat them.There are many “right” ways of gar-
supply of the world would be increased. Insect control would be more dening. Plants are adaptable to climate and shade, within limits, and soil
manageable because plants would be spread out and less susceptible to builders and other methods are available for enriching garden soil.The
disease. It is much easier to keep the pests off six citrus trees in your instructions and recipes included here are based on the firsthand expe-
yard than off 1,000 trees growing in a commercial orange grove. rience and practical advice of amateur and professional gardeners from
Step into your garden - what do you see? Are there exciting plants a variety of climate zones.While this book will not eliminate trial and
to look at, or some producing fruit? In my own garden, one of the error in the garden or kitchen, it does offer many useful suggestions
finest sights is the tall carambola tree with golden star fruit. As space and ideas and will help prevent time-consuming, expensive mistakes.
becomes more and more valuable and yards and gardens become The first chapter describes the needs of plants that grow in the sub-
smaller, we must become more selective about what plants to grow. tropics. It explains how to enrich soil naturally with compost and
Whenever possible, plants should serve more than one purpose. Many cover crops. Basic principles of freeze protection, mulching, pest con-
of the plants featured in this book offer landscape interest as well as trol, plant containers, and irrigation are discussed.
flowers and fruit to bring indoors. Succeeding chapters describe individual categories of food plants in
x | Exotic Foods: A Kitchen and Garden Guide
detail. Each plant, its flowers, and its fruit are pictured together and
described. Included are many types of citrus; nut and condiment trees;
favorite American fruit trees especially bred for the subtropical cli-
mate; exotic fruit trees like loquat and carambola; shrubs bearing edi-
bles, such as Surinam cherry; fruiting canes like raspberry and young-
berry; plants with edible roots, such as water chestnuts; food-bearing
vines, from grape to kiwi; unusual fruit from seed; and subtropical
herbs.
Growing instructions and suggestions for using each plant are
included in each chapter.There is also a separate chapter of recipes for
jelly, jam, frozen ices, tea, wine, special calamondin cake and bread, and
more.
The bibliography and list of sources for plants, found at the end of
the book, will make the information in this book even more useful.
Many gardeners who are new residents of subtropical areas become
discouraged when they try to grow Northern plants with Northern
methods in this sometimes harsh climate, and find that their efforts fail.
Hot-climate gardening is different, to be sure. But gardening in the
subtropics and indoors is easy and rewarding if you choose from
among the special plants described in this book. It is my wish and hope
that readers will take advantage of the sun that shines year-round to
grow delightful exotic and flavorful products of the warmer regions of
the earth.
Exotic Foods
by
Marian Van Atta

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