Guide to Spanish Fruit
Once the summer fades in Spain, Autumn arrives and brings a bumper crop of Spanish fruit. Seems like when you have fruit trees it seems that the whole crop comes at once. In September and October quince, avocadoes and pomegranates are plentiful. Other lesser known fruits are in season too such as Loquats, caquis and jujubes.
Over the years I have learnt what to do with the surplus fruit in Granada province. Gathering some good recipes along the way.
In this quick guide I outline Seasonal Spanish Fruit,
Including Tips on how to prepare it and what nutritional properties each one has.
What´s a Chirimoya?
Spanish name: Chirimoya or Cherimoya
English name: Custard Apple (Annona cherimola)
Appearance: It´s a large green tropical fruit. Inside it has white flesh and lots of shiny black seeds. It´s delicate and bruises easily and is in season in Autumn & Winter. Chirimoyas grow on the Costa Tropical and in Granada. They produce 50 million kilos every year.
How to eat it: Slice in half and eat with a spoon, avoiding the large black seeds. When overripe they are not so good. Great for smoothies. Locally there is a craft beer made with Chirimoya as an ingredient, brewed by Cervezas Nazari.
Good for: Chirimoya have 75% water content and contain vitamin A & C. They also have potassium and antioxidants too. Recommended for constipation, to reduce stress and are said to be good for skin, teeth and bones too.
Some say that the properties of the Chirimoya act in a smiliar way to aspirin.
Grown across many Spanish regions, Almonds are so popular in Spain. Served with Ham, cheese and wine, in all the christmas treats such as turron and marzipan… The trees are absolutely stunning when in flower in early springtime. Thousands of pink and white delicate blooms. I have particulared noticed them in Granada and Almeria province.
Almonds in other countries are increasing in popularity amongst consumers due to their heart and brain health properties. Also their versatility is a huge factor and you can use them in many ways. The highest quality variety are from Spain, known as Marcona almonds. They are highly prized, their flavour is superior and more aromatic than other varieties. The Marcona variety is harvested in each autumn across Spain.
Almonds are known to reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. They are a great snack for vegan, vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Specialist companies such as deliart foods have recipes to help incorporate almonds into dishes or use for snacks on different occasions. You can get them natural (white) or in different formats such as salted, fried or caramelized (garripiñadas).
How to eat a Pomegranate
Spanish name: Granada
English name: Pomegranate (Punica granatum)
Appearance: This is a large orange or red fruit with a thick skin. Full of bright red seeds inside it´s in season from October to February.
Pomegranates are grown locally, in and around Granada province. This Spanish fruit is very typical in Autumn especially
How to eat: Slice off the top and bottom then break it into 2 halves. Scoop out the seeds and eat them. (See video below) Careful with the red juice, as the stains are really difficult to get out. Eat the seeds alone or make juice from them. Also you can add them into yoghurt or top a salad with them.
Although in Spain its not as common in other parts of the world such as Israel fresh pomegranate juice is sold on street stalls. The variety of pomegranate is slightly different, darker in colour and more juicy. In Spain they are lighter in colour and more firm seeds.
Recipe: Here a great salad idea with pomegranate: Chickpea and Orange Salad recipe
Good for: They could help to avoid plaque building up on teeth and may even help to reduce blood pressure. Pomegranates are packed with antioxidants and high in fibre too.
The name of the city of Granada means pomegranate. You will see this symbol all around the city.
Spanish name: Sharoni and caqui (Diospyros kaki)
English name: Persimmon or Sharon Fruit (Varieties: Hachiyas and Fuyus)
Appearance: Caquis can be pale yellowey orange to deep red color. They look like tomatoes.
In Spain they are in season in Autumn.
How to eat: With a very ripe Caqui fruit (Hachiya) just lift skin and eat with a spoon. The pulp is almost liquid, like jam and has a very sweet taste. Unriped sharon fruit (Fuyu) can be ripened by storing in a container with alchol, such as aniseed liquor. When ripened they can be eaten sliced. (Do not eat on an empty stomach due to possible reaction with gastric juices.)
The astrigent nature of unripe Sharon fruit is quite unpleasant so it best to try these fruits when ripe.
Good for: High in fibre and rich in vitamin C.
Caquis may improve metabolism and the body to cope with fat storage. Personally I recommend eating the deep red caqui fruits, They have a wonderful colour and flavour. Be careful not to stain your clothing as it´s very difficult to remove.
Recipe: Persimmon Sorbet
Nisperos are very common around Granada province and in Andalucia. Called Loquat in English these small peach coloured fruits are a little fussy to prepare but have a delicate taste. Popular in China and from the Rosa family of plants. They have large smooth stones on the inside.
Loquats are low in calories but packed with vitamins and other nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
Name in Spanish: Membrillo
Known in English as: Quince
Appearance: Looks like an Apple but slightly larger. They are in season in Autumn
How to eat: Great to make jams and jellies as they are high in pectin. They can be used with apples in crumbles and baking to enhance the flavour. Quince can be roasted in the oven or boiled with cinnamon for a winter dessert.
They also have a pleasant perfume that fragrances your home. They are grown locally in Granada province and other areas of Andalusia.
Good for: High in fibre and antioxidants, supposed to help weight loss too
Recipe: Quince Jelly with Cheese
How to eat a Prickly Pear
Spanish: Higo Chumbo
Known in English as: Prickly Pear
Appearance: Green, orange or yellow fruits with small seeds. In season in summertime
How to eat: See how to prepare them in the video below. Once peeled eat cold from the fridge or use in smoothies. The cactus plant that bears these fruits has lots of fine needles. Also found on the fruit, they are fine and invisible. You must wear thick gloves to pick them and use metal tongs to pull them off the plant to avoid getting these painful cactus spikes in your hands. Once they are peeled the fruit inside of course is spike free.
You may see street sellers with Chumbo stalls in September and October. They have done all the hard work removing the spikes.
Good for: They contain magnesium and potassium.
The fruit has lots of fibre and antioxidants. Prickly pears may help to lower cholesterol
What is a Medlar fruit?
Spanish: Nispero de invierno
Known in English as: Common Medlar
Appearance: Small Brown fruit with long sepals, soft pulp inside, similar taste to apple puree.
How to eat: Chop off the top and eat the rest. These remind me of crab apples and are in season in wintertime. When it is picked from the tree if must be eaten within one or two days. It doesnt last long.
Good for: Rich in Pectin and Vitamin B & C, years ago it was a home remedy to help combat diarrhoea in children.
What is a Jujube?
Known in English as: Jujube or Chinese date
Appearance: This reddish Brown Berry looks like an acorn. It tastes similar to an apple and is in season in Autumn
How to eat: Eat alone but be careful with the stone in the centre. Although only a short shelf life, once picked only last 4-5 days.
Good for: They are small but have lots of Vitamin C. Supposedly they can ease the stomach and help to suppress appetite
Known in English as: Avocado
Appearance: An oval shaped fruit with green shiny skin. The flesh on the inside is pale green and has a butter like consistency when ripe. In season from November to January. In Granada province on the Costa Tropical 20 million kilos of avocados are produced each year.
How to eat: Apart from making guacamole avocadoes are also lovely in salads. Spreading avocado on toast is also a great way to liven up breakfast.
Good for: They have more potassium (per gram) than bananas and are rich in Vitamins B, E & K. They could help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood
Recipe: Choose a ripe avocado and slice it in half. The stone should come out easily. Fill the hole with balsamic vinegar and salt. Eat with spoon.
Oranges and Lemons
Traditional Spanish Fruit
Oranges and lemons are plentiful around the South of Spain. Probably the Spanish fruit most associated with Spain, these citrus fruits have a very long shelf life and store well.
When they are in season (Winter and Spring) I use them for eating and for a daily juice every morning. Perhaps you have surplus oranges which you can make marmalade with.
Recipe: I also make a herbal infusion from the flowers on the orange tree see the method here: A calming natural tea
Street oranges: In Seville, Granada and other Andalusian cities you will see Orange trees lining city streets. Although these oranges are eye catching they cannot be eaten straight from the tree. This variety of oranges are bitter sweet and decorative. Also you may see a lot of them, these colourful fruits are just for show. In Seville they have been used traditionally to make marmalade.
Other Orange varieties are grown specifically for table oranges or for juicing. Then you have lots of other smaller varieties such as clementines ormandarins, which again are other plants. Don´t be tempted to eat these street oranges as the taste is quite bitter and the fruit is not juicy either.
Seasonal Spanish Fruit
Of all of the fruits I get straight from the campo I don´t seem to have a favourite. Each one of them goes with that time of year. There´s nothing better than a cold chumbo on a hot august day. The sheer joy is having a different fruit each season and revel in the variety of them all.
You may also like to read The Story of Olives & Olive Oil
A Spanish Fruit Guide
Do you have lots of surplus fruit from your garden or trees?
Let me know your Spanish Fruit tricks and seasonal recipes too.