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Buddha's Hand and Other Miracle Fruits

June 16, 1999|DAVID KARP

These exotic items are grown in California and sold at farmers markets.

* Buddha's Hand Citron. Looks like a cross between a lemon and an octopus; perfumes a room for weeks. Grower: Cunningham Organic Farm, Fallbrook. Season: October to February. Market: Temecula.

* Cork Oak. Fashion your own stopper. Grower: Bernard Ranches, Fallbrook. Season: sporadic. Markets: Beverly Hills, Culver City, Santa Monica (Wednesdays), Hollywood, Monrovia, Montrose, Northridge.

* Exotic Bananas. Twenty unusual varieties, including blue, furry Ice Creams and exquisite Gold Fingers. Grower: S.L. White Farms, Escondido. Season: May to November. Market: Hillcrest (in San Diego).

* Indian Blood Peach. Has woolly skin and red flesh, with intriguing cherry-berry flavor. Called pe^che de vigne in France, where it is traditionally used for preserves. Grower: Circle C Ranch, Lake Hughes. Season: August. Markets: Hollywood, Santa Monica (Wednesdays).

* Moloukhiya (also many other spellings, such as "malukhia"). Young leaves used fresh or dried in Middle Eastern soups and stews. Fiber of mature plant, known as jute, used for burlap and rope. Grower: Supreme Farms (Romeo Lozano), Dinuba. Season: third week of June to November. Market: Thousand Oaks.

* Miracle Fruit Plant. Eat one bean from this plant and for the next hour, even the sourest lemon will taste sweet. Grower: Papaya Tree Nursery (David and Tina Silber), Granada Hills. Season: sporadic, spring and fall. Market: Hollywood.

* Pineapple. Connoisseurs' varieties, much sweeter and more flavorful than Smooth Cayenne, the prevalent commercial import. Grower: ACW Farms, Fallbrook. Season: May to October, next year. Markets: Anaheim, Fullerton (Wednesdays), Corona del Mar, San Clemente, Yorba Linda.

* Pink Lemon. Variegated lemon with striped rind and pink flesh, less sour than ordinary lemons. Possible inspiration for pink lemonade. Grower: Crown 12 Ranch, Corona. Season: now and sporadically throughout year. Market: Fullerton (Wednesdays), Redondo Beach, West Hollywood.

* Red Shiso. Leaves used to spice Japanese pickled plums, also to garnish sushi. Grower: R Farms, Santa Ana. Season: next week or so. Markets: Irvine, Hollywood.

* White Apricot. Twice as sweet as an ordinary apricot; luscious, delicate and aromatic. Common in the Near East, rarely grown in California. Grower: Mud Creek Ranch (Steve and Robin Smith), Santa Paula. Season: about July 4, for just one week. Market: Agoura Hills, Ojai.

Also noted: carambola (starfruit), carob, catfish, coffee, doughnut peach, jaboticaba, longan, lychee, mume (Japanese apricot), naranjilla, pink-fleshed apple, pink-fleshed cherimoya, pink peppercorn, pitahaya, red-fleshed apricot, sugar cane, tea, wampi, white and red wild strawberries, yuzu.

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