Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jackfruit Jubilee, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, Fla.

Miami, Fla.—Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden held a Jackfruit Jubilee. This year’s festival educated people on what jackfruit was, where it came from, where it could be grown, and most importantly what it tasted like. There were over 18 different varieties on display and for tasting. 

Jackfruit Jubilee, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
One of the speakers, Chris Rollins, Manager of Fruit & Spice Park, Redlands, Fla., said, “Jackfruit is like a watermelon growing on a tree covered in alligator skin and tastes like cantaloupe, banana and juicy fruit gum.”

Chris Rollins, Manager Fruit & Spice Park, at Jackfruit Jubilee,
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
He gave a hilarious talk on his experiences at the park when the fruit was first planted. He said jackfruit was a comfort food for many Asian Miami-Dade residents that reminded them of home. “There was a time in the early 80s when I would hire an armed guard to watch my trees,” Rollins said causing the audience to laugh in disbelief.

“The point is these fruit are so compelling. They’re eaten raw in either a green or ripe form, they’re sap is used to make glue and their wood is highly prized," said Rollins.

Today, more South Florida farmers are growing jackfruit so there is a lower rate of stealing going on in the park.

Many South Florida botanic gardens also now grow jackfruit. You’ll have to visit these places during the growing season, from June to September, to see the largest fruit, that can get up to 100 lbs. in size.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sparkling Wines, Schnebly Redland's Winery, Homestead, Fla.

Homestead, Fla.— Schnebly Redland's Winery & Brewery makes good sparkling wine. They are a farm-to-table winery, so this means they use South Florida grown tropical fruit to make their wines. Their tasting room is located just under 40-miles south of downtown Miami. This makes them the southernmost winery in the United States. 
Gran Reserve sparkling fruit wine, Schnebly Redland's Winery & Brewery,
Homestead, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey.
During a recent visit I bought a "Special Tasting" for $9.95, which gave me a choice of five different dessert wines and some sparkling. And I was allowed to keep the champagne glass (that could be used at a later date for another tasting at a discounted price).

Most of the wines at Schnebly are sweeter than wines from other areas of the United States. But this is not a surprising because the heat of South Florida lends itself to this style of wine.

Having said that the Gran Reserve sparkling wine, made from coconut and carambola, was surprisingly dry with pleasant oak overtones. But it was not too dry for my palette so I bought a bottle, for $29.95, to take home. 

My wine pourer said they no longer added oak to this wine because the carambola developed a natural oak taste as it fermented.

Sparkling Passion fruit wine, Schnebly Redland's Winery & Brewery,
Homestead, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
I also liked the Sparkling Passion made out of South Florida grown passion fruit. It was refreshingly tart and slightly sweet. I bought two bottles ($29.95 each) with the intention using one to make pie.

There are a few places you can buy Schnebly flat wine like Publix, Walgreens, and Total Wines & More. But to buy the sparkling and dessert wines you need to go to the winery either in person or online.

If you do go to Schnebly Redland's Winery, bring a picnic lunch because all they have is snack size food. Also you are not allowed to bring in any type of beverage including water.

They are open seven days a week.  On weekends they have tours for $7 and after 6 p.m. they have a live band with a cover charge ranging from $10 to $12.50 per adult. 

Located at 30205 S.W. 217th Ave, Homestead, FL 33030
Phone (888) 717-WINE (Toll-Free) or (305) 242-1224

You can go to their website to learn more: http://www.schneblywinery.com

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hawaiian Purple Sweet Potatoes, Antioxidant Rich, Fla.

Sweet potatoes are a delicious, healthy alternative to potatoes. And with white skinned ones called Okinawan sweet potatoes they can also be colorful because these spuds are purple inside. Their natural purple color also makes them extra nutritious because it is high in anthocyanins, an antioxidant found only in purple foods like blueberries.

Naturally grown Hawaiian purple sweet potatoes bought at
Rorabeck's Palnt & Produce Inc, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
These potatoes are also known as Hawaiian purple sweet potatoes. They have a lovely sweet flavor with hints of roasted chestnuts. Their purple flesh is denser than regular orange colored sweet potatoes, which makes them a good ingredient for pies.

You can buy them online or at specialty stores. I bought mine at Rorabeck’s Plant & Produce Inc. on Military Trail in Lantana, Florida.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dragon Fruit, Homestead, Fla.

Homestead, Fla.--Dragon Fruit is a colorful addition to any meal. This Mexican native cacti fruit is also known as Pitaya. It is very juicy and has a mouth feel similar to kiwi fruit because of tiny black seeds. But the flavor varies from bland to tart to slightly sweet.  South Florida grown Pitaya have white or hot pink to red colored flesh surrounded by pink, leathery skin.

Homestead, Fla. grown Dragon Fruit
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
It is high in phosphorous, Vitamin C and antioxidants. It is easily peeled and can be eaten raw or put in smoothies or other drinks.

Many stores sell Dragon Fruit (Pitaya) but its always tastiest when bought directly from a farm. And right now it's Pitaya season in South Florida and will be until the end of October.

Recently, I visited Homestead and bought several pounds of delicious hot pink colored and white colored Dragon Fruit from Khemara Farms. I also bought some smaller burgundy-red colored fruit from the Krome Farmers Market.

Pitaya fruit producing cacti farm next to Krome Farmers Market
Homestead, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
The Krome location was next to a seven-acre Pitaya farm that grew only the red variety of the fruit.

The Krome Farmers Market is located at 25300 SW Krome (177th) Ave, Homestead FL 33031.
Phone: (305) 245-8868

Khemara Farms has a public visiting season from June to August.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Peanut Butter Fruit Tree In South Florida

If you love peanut butter then you'll love this fruit. It is native to Venezuela but recently has been showing in South Florida gardens. I first encountered it in 2010 at a Farmers' Market in Naples, Florida. The fruit is ripe when the skin changes from orange to red. And it tastes like peanut butter, well almost.

Peanut Butter Fruit, South Florida grown,
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
The tree grows fast, and produces fruit all year long. It is self-pollinating meaning you only need one plant to produce fruit.

I've had mine in the ground for 10 months and it is already producing fruit.

Naples, Florida, grown peanut butter fruit.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
The olive shaped, orange to red colored fruit has a large seed surrounded by a thin layer of flesh, about 1/8th of an inch (2-3 mm) in depth. The peanut butter taste varies from mild to medium.

It might not seem worth the effort of growing and preparing this fruit but if you have problems eating peanuts then this fruit can be a healthy alternative.

I found my peanut butter fruit tree (Bunchosia argentea) at a Rare Fruit Council International, Palm Beach Chapter, fruit auction.