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Mystery Fruits Can Enhance and Entertain

Why eat the same old bananas and grapes when there are lots of other, exotic fruits to choose from? Get out of a rut by checking out these five mysterious fruits.

Pepino Melon

"This is not like a honeydew or cantaloupe," Schueller warns. Pepino, in fact, means cucumber in Spanish, he says. The fruit -- also called mellow fruit -- comes from South America and is very popular in the Latin community, where cooks squeeze lime juice and hot sauce on it.

My pepino was a pearly oval with purple streaks. I cut it open and it had a pear-like interior, bland and a little grainy. My daughter said it tasted like a lettuce-flavored pear. It's suck-in-over-the-sink juicy, like the ripest of pears or peaches.

It also has fairly low nutritional values, Schueller says, which means to me that it's a perfect addition to something else or a host food for a yummy sauce!

Asian Pear

Speaking of pears, the term Asian pear covers at least 25 types of pears available year-round. They come not only from Asia and Chile, but from our own California. They are crammed with fiber and even some protein.

Asian pears are shaped like apples and crunch when you bite, like an apple. Inside, though, they are sweetish and more like pear than any other flavor, although I found the one I ate to be sort of a generic fruit taste.

Melissa's recommends putting a few leaves of lettuce covered in cream cheese (Neufchatel is lower fat) on a plate, then adding two Asian pears, cubed, sprinkled with chopped salted peanuts.

Ugly Fruit

Ugly fruit also goes by Uniq fruit or the trademarked spelling of Ugli. Think baggy grapefruit or a grapefruit crossed with a shar pei. Technically speaking, this is a tangelo from Jamaica. It comes into season in late October and is available nine months of the year.

The store I went to didn't have an "ugly" section, so I can only report what others say. The rumpled skin makes it easy to peel and section. It is citrusy -- somewhere between a tangerine and a grapefruit. You can put it in sweet or savory dishes. In fact, it also makes a fabulous hot toddy when the juice is mixed with rum and brown sugar (making it a "beautiful" fruit, in my book). It makes a mean marmalade, too.

Ugly fruit is high in fiber and loaded with vitamin C.

Speaking of citrus, I sampled an Australian orange and can report that this is an orange, whatever its Down Under pedigree. It looked like a tangerine with a snout and peeled easily.

Cherimoya

Pronounced "cheer-i-moya," this pale green "hand grenade" with shingled skin reportedly tastes like pineapple, mango, and strawberry. Schueller describes the taste as tutti-frutti. Cherimoyas are generally available year-round, and the white flesh can be eaten as a snack or baked into treats, such as a waffle.

Cherimoyas contain vitamin C, phosphorus, and thiamine. A respectable chunk contains 95 calories and less than 1 gram of fat.

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