By Elke Probkevitz

Exotic New Fruits For The New Year

Every year around this time, we find new and exotic produce at the market. Part of the tradition of Rosh Hashanah is to experience a new fruit that has just come into season and say the blessing of Shehecheyanu. This is to remind us to be grateful that G‑d has protected us and kept us healthy and well to experience the next season and enjoy this moment.

Have you ever wondered where these fruits came from and why we only see them this time of year? Well, I have, and I decided to find out.

Passion fruit. This is one fruit that is delectable enough to be eaten all year round. Passion fruits, also called parchitas, grow on a vine and are native to South America. It is a round fruit with golden or purple skin and has a soft, juicy, bright yellow inside full of crunchy seeds. The skin must be pierced and cut with a sharp knife and the flesh is scooped out with a spoon. It has a tart pulp and is used in juices as a flavor booster and found puréed.

Jackfruit. A common fruit in Asia and Australia, the jackfruit is also native to southwestern India, Bangladesh, Philippines, and Sri Lanka. It looks like a prickly little alien. Inside there are pods or bulbs that are a fleshy covering for the pits. It can be eaten as is or cooked. It is available fresh rarely, but also comes canned and can be found as sweet chips.

Lychee. A small fruit with white flesh with a grape-like texture and red rind that can be easily peeled. The lychee comes from an evergreen tree native to southern China, India, and Taiwan, and has become more popular worldwide in recent years. It is now grown in southern Florida for commercial sale of the fruit. It also comes canned and in juice form.

Star fruit. As its name suggests, this fruit looks like a star when sliced up crosswise. The golden-yellow fruit is sweet and crunchy with a flavor similar to a mixture of pineapples, apples, and kiwis. It is very juicy and can be sweet or slightly acidic. It comes from the carambola tree that even grows in the U.S.

Mangosteen. Also from an evergreen tree, the mangosteen has purple, creamy flesh that tastes kind of citrusy and sweet with a hint of peach and the texture of a ripe plum. It is about the size of a mandarin orange. It has a scar at one end from where the flower was, which tells you how many segments are in the fruit by the number of flower parts remaining. It is full of antioxidants and might even lower the risk of diseases such as cancer.

Dragon fruit. A beautiful pink fruit with green leaves and an unexpected white center speckled with black seeds. The dragon fruit comes from many different species of cactus. It is sweet and mild with a creamy pulp. It is native to Mexico and other parts of Central and South America. Juice and wine are produced from the fruit, and the flower is eaten or used in tea.

African cucumber. Also called a horned melon or melano, the African cucumber looks like a yellow melon covered in little horns with a bright green interior full of cucumber-like seeds. Originally from the Kalahari Desert in Africa, it now can be found in California and New Zealand. The pulp is similar in consistency to the passion fruit and the taste is a little like a banana, lime, and cucumber combined. v

Angel Food Cake With Tropical Fruit Salad


1¼ cup powdered sugar

1 cup cake flour

¼ tsp. salt

9 large egg whites

1½ tsp. cream of tartar

1 cup superfine sugar

1 Tbsp. grated orange peel (optional)

1½ tsp. vanilla extract

For fruit salad:

2 blood oranges, peeled

3 ripe passion fruits

1 kiwi, peeled and chopped into ½-inch pieces

1 cup mango, cut into ½-inch cubes

1—2 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, sift powdered sugar, flour, and salt so there are no lumps. With an electric mixer, beat egg whites in a large bowl until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add superfine sugar and beat until thick and shiny with fluffy peaks. Do not overbeat.

Add orange peel and vanilla and blend. Sift one-fourth of flour mixture into egg whites and gently fold with a spatula. Repeat with remaining flour, one-fourth at a time. Transfer batter to ungreased 10-inch angel food cake pan (removable bottom, not nonstick). Bake until golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 50 minutes. Immediately turn pan over to cool completely. Gently tap bottom to loosen cake and transfer to a plate.

While cake is baking, segment oranges into a bowl, allowing juices to collect in the bowl. Cut segments in half. Scoop out the pulp from the passion fruits into bowl. Add kiwi, mango, sugar, mint, and salt. Toss gently to combine. Cover and chill till ready to serve. Serve salad alongside slice of cake.

Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook that you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to, or visiting

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