12 Strange, Yet Beautiful Fruits & Vegetables

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Here's a fun roundup of odd fruits and veggies. If you have any experience eating any of them, we're all ears! The comments are open below...

1. Durian

There are more than 30 durian species in Southeast Asia alone, but only about one third of them are edible. Those who don't like the flavor of the durian fruit often say it smells like dirty gym socks. Yum!

2. Pitaya

Whole hot pink dragon fruits surrounding a dragon fruit cut in half to reveal the black-speckled white inside.
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Pitaya is found on several cactus species. In different countries it's known as dragon fruit, dragon pearl fruit, and strawberry pear.

3. Yangmei

A basket of purple, bumpy-skinned Chinese bayberries.
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Yangmei (sometimes called/spelled yamamomo, myrica rubra, kanji, katakana, Chinese bayberry, or Chinese strawberry) is native to Southeast Asia, mainly China.

4. Bottle Gourd

The bottle gourd grows in tropical areas all over the world and can actually be used as a real bottle, rather than eaten.

5. Monstera Deliciosa

A cluster of green monster fruit in a tree surrounded by leaves.
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This guy is also known as monstereo, windowleaf, Mexican breadfruit, Swiss cheese plant, ceriman, fruit salad plant, or just monster fruit, due to its monster size (it can grow up to two feet in length!). It’s mostly native to Mexico and Panama.

6. Black Radish

Six black radishes with their green tops still attached sitting on a cutting board.
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Black Spanish or Black Spanish Round occur in both round and elongated forms, and are sometimes simply called the black radish or known by the French name Gros Noir d'Hiver.

7. Carambola

A whole star fruit with a cut up star fruit on a black background.
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The carambola, also known as starfruit, is native to Southeast Asia and is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C and low in sugar, sodium and acid.

8. Horned Melon

A whole horned melon next to a horned melon cut in half, revealing the green insides.
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This fruit is another with tons of aliases: kiwano, horned melon, African horned cucumber, hedged gourd, jelly melon. It’s native to Africa, but also grows in California, Chile, Australia and New Zealand, as well. In California it’s widely known as Blowfish fruit. Although it’s edible, kiwano is mostly used as decoration food.

9. Buddha’s Hand

A yellow Buddha's hand fruit in a tree surrounded by leaves.
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Buddha's hand fruit is very fragrant and is used predominantly by the Chinese and Japanese for perfuming rooms and personal items, such as clothing. According to WIKI, "The fruit may be given as a religious offering in Buddhist temples. According to tradition, Buddha prefers the 'fingers' of the fruit to be in a position where they resemble a closed rather than open hand, as closed hands symbolize to Buddha the act of prayer."

10. Ugli Fruit

Two yello ugli fruit on a white background with an ugli fruit cut in half in front of them.
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The ugli fruit is actually a Jamaican tangelo, which was created by hybridizing a grapefruit (or pomelo), an orange and a tangerine. Because it's a bit unsightly when ripe, it was called the Ugli fruit by its trademarker, Cabel Hall Citrus Limited.

11. Noni Fruit

Talk about aliases! It's only called Noni in Hawaii. Elsewhere, this fruit goes as the great morinda, Indian mulberry, nunaakai (Tamil Nadu, India) , dog dumpling (Barbados), mengkudu (Indonesia and Malaysia), apatot (Philippines), Kumudu (Bali), pace (Java), beach mulberry, and cheese fruit! The tree that produces the fruit is actually in the coffee family.

12. Dulse

Technically, dulse is a red alga, but often considered a vegetable, most often found off the coast of Maine. In Iceland people eat it with butter!

8 Summertime Treats We Should Bring Back

Fox Photos/Getty Images
Fox Photos/Getty Images

Certain snacks are synonymous with summer. A waffle cone piled high with creamy ice cream. A sizzling hot dog fresh off the grill. A tall, cool glass of water buffalo milk. OK, maybe that last one hasn't gotten much play in our lifetimes—but in the centuries before refrigeration came about, anyone baking in the summer sun had to get creative. While many historic summertime treats have stuck around in one form or another, others, like the ones we've gathered here, have mostly melted away like a dropped Popsicle on a sidewalk in August.

1. Flavored Snow and Ice

The snow cones of eras past were a lot more literal than the neon kind we slurp at the carnival these days. In ancient Rome, slaves scoured nearby mountains for blocks of ice which were then crushed and topped with spiced syrups and fruit for their masters. Mesopotamian nobles, too, had icehouses built along the banks of the Euphrates River to beat the heat. Snow was even sold in the streets of ancient Athens, likely to cool wine. Flavored ices have remained popular around the world (Thomas Jefferson was known to serve freezes at Monticello), even as they've largely moved away from the straight-up snow-based variety. So popular, in fact, that in 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson knew he was onto something when he accidentally left a glass of water, powdered soda mix, and a wooden stirring stick on his porch overnight. The concoction froze solid and the Popsicle was born.

2. Flowerpot Sundaes

Lady Bird Johnson, a dedicated environmentalist, had White House chef Henry Haller serve flowerpot sundaes at her daughters' engagement parties in the 1960s. The seasonal sweet consisted of layers of ice cream, meringue, and sponge cake served in clay flowerpots and topped with fresh blossoms—the perfect combination of the First Lady's wildflower beautification measures and dessert duties. With her love of gardening, we're a little surprised Michelle Obama didn't bring this tradition back to Pennsylvania Avenue during her time as First Lady, though an entire flowerpot full of sugar probably wouldn't pass her healthy eating initiatives.

3. Kool-Aid

vintage Kool-Aid ad from 1950
Wandering Magpie, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The sugary summer drink dates back far further than the plastic jugs parents of the '80s and '90s had waiting after their kids' soccer games. A Nebraska businessman and amateur chemist added the powdered product to his existing lineup of goods like Nix-O-Tine (to help with tobacco dependency) and Motor-Vigor (a gasoline additive) in the late 1920s. Originally called "Fruit Smack," it came in six flavors (raspberry, grape, lemon, orange, cherry, and root beer) and debuted right around the time Coca-Cola was catching on nationally. Business was good but things really took off when the Great Depression hit and consumers realized they could stretch one little packet into a pitcher to cool down the whole family. Kool-Aid's still around, despite its 1970s association with the Jonestown mass suicide (though the evidence indicates they actually mostly drank a Kool-Aid competitor, Flavor-Aid) and today's health-conscious parents, but that smiling pitcher with limbs doesn't seem to hold the same wall-breaking power he once did.

4. Iced Water Buffalo Milk

There's some debate as to where ice cream officially originated, with various people (with varying amounts of accuracy and evidence) ascribing it to Marco Polo or Catherine de Medici, and even some attributions to King Solomon and Alexander the Great. China's Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) has a pretty solid claim on the feat, though. Emperors from that time were known to have enjoyed a frozen "milk-like" treat made from buffalo, goat, or cow's milk heated with flour and spiced with camphor. Refreshing!

5. Ice Cream Carts

An ice cream vendor in New York hands a young girl an ice cream, circa 1920.
An ice cream vendor in New York hands a young girl an ice cream, circa 1920.
Elizabeth R. Hibbs/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Before the tinny melody of "Pop Goes The Weasel" brought swarms of sweaty kids to the streets for a Chipwich, mobile ice cream vendors used more primitive—and less sanitary—means. In the late 19th century, vendors sold dishes of ice cream from carts cooled with ice blocks, which meant customers would lick their dish clean and then return it to the seller to use for his next customer. Not exactly a model of hygiene.

Before widespread milk pasteurization, ice cream also came topped with the threat of bacteria that could cause scarlet fever, tuberculosis, and other extreme ailments. The frozen treat became safer to order after studies of typhoid in New York implicated raw milk, causing most cities to require pasteurization, and inventions like the ice cream cone made that whole sharing dishes issue disappear. Technological advances around the same time made refrigeration easier and scoopers traded in their carts for cars. Ice cream trucks, which first appeared in the 1920s, have seen something of a resurgence in recent years as other food trucks have flourished and anything vintage has become hipster cool, but the once-ubiquitous carts tend to remain relegated to zoos, amusement parks, and other touristy areas.

6. Easy Cheese

Yes, Gwyneth Paltrow famously said she'd prefer crack to cheese from a can, but for the rest of us, spray cheese remains the stuff of nostalgic summer roadtrip memories. Easy Cheese first propelled its way into America's hearts—and arteries—in 1966, when it was known as Snack Mate. Like TV dinners and Campbell's soup casseroles, the nitrogen-pressurized product was right in line with the era's obsession with speed and efficiency. The name change came about in 1984 when Kraft took over and embraced its portability and ease over the quality it had been peddling in its early years. If you can get past the processed foods stigma and the wrath of judgy celebrities, you can still find the cheesy can on grocery store shelves and, of course, on YouTube.

7. Shoulder Clod

Two butchers, circa 1965.
Keystone/Getty Images

Once a standard cut for summer BBQs, shoulder clod rarely makes modern appearances in America's grilling pits anymore. Southern meat markets used to buy entire forequarters of beef, divide out the roasts, and smoke whatever was left over, but in the 1960s, wholesalers started shipping individual, vacuum-sealed cuts, making the fattier brisket the barbecue favorite. The unfortunately named "clod," a leaner piece of meat with beefier flavor that comes from the cow's shoulder, was all but forgotten. But, if you can find a chunk of clod at a local butcher shop, know that it will cook faster because of its leanness—a bonus if you don't have all day to spend minding the grill. And they tend to be larger, which is also a bonus.

8. Fromage (Not the Cheese Kind)

In the late 1600s, right around the time the Italians were experimenting with gelato, the French were mixing up a fluffier frozen treat they called fromage, even though it had nothing to do with cheese. Various recipes called for fruit-flavored ice, but some included cream and sugar as well—a combination that became a hit as the new century began. Can you imagine if your evening meal could be followed by a fromage plate and then a bowl of fromage? Heaven.

This story was updated in 2019.

A Simple Trick for De-Stemming Your Strawberries

iStock/Andrew1Norton
iStock/Andrew1Norton

Whether you prefer buying them from the farmers' market or picking them from the field yourself, summer is the best time to bring home strawberries. The fruits taste delicious on their own, but if you want to add them to a recipe like a cake or pie, they require a little prep work. De-stemming strawberries may seem intimidating, but that shouldn't discourage you from taking full advantage of all strawberry season has to offer. If you have a simple tool at home, you're just a minute or two away from a batch of perfectly hulled strawberries.

According to Lifehacker, all you need to remove the stem and core from a strawberry is a plastic drinking straw. Starting at the tip of the fruit, push the straw through the strawberry lengthwise until it pierces through the top, pushing out the stem in process. Slide out the straw to admire your perfectly cored, stemless strawberry. Now that it's been hulled, you can add it to smoothies, fruit salads, baked goods, or any other dish that calls for it.

Hulling strawberries with a knife instead of a straw can be dangerous, which is why many people opt to chop off the entire top portion. This method gets rid of the leafy stem, but it also wastes a lot of perfectly edible fruit. Buy hulling it, you get a clean, ready-to-eat product while preserving as much of the strawberry as possible.

Strawberries aren't the only foods that can benefit from a handy life hack. Here are some more things you've been eating all wrong (and the right ways to devour them).

[h/t Lifehacker]

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