Fruit

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Berry

Published April 5, 2012 by myberriesfarm

My name is Solmaz Hafezi and welcome to my little bit of garden.

The botanical definition of a berry is a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. Grapes are an example. The berry is the most common type of fleshy fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp. They may have one or more carpels with a thin covering and fleshy interiors. The seeds are usually embedded in the flesh of the ovary. A plant that bears berries is said to be bacciferous. Many species of plants produce fruit that are similar to berries, but not actually berries, and these are said to be baccate.

In everyday English, “berry” is a term for any small edible fruit. These “berries” are usually juicy, round or semi-oblong, brightly coloured, sweet or sour, and do not have a stone or pit, although many seeds may be present.

Made it myself

Made it myself (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Many berries, such as the tomato, are edible, but others in the same family, such as the fruits of the deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) and the fruits of the potato (Solanum tuberosum) are poisonous to humans. Some berries, such as Capsicum, have space rather than pulp around their seeds.

In botanical language, a berry is a simple fruit having seeds and pulp produced from a single ovary; the ovary can be inferior or superior.

The fruit of citrus, such as the orange, kumquat and lemon, is a berry with a thick rind and a very juicy interior that is given the special name hesperidium.

Berries which develop from an inferior ovary are sometimes termed epigynous berries or false berries, as opposed to true berries which develop from a superior ovary. In epigynous berries, the berry includes tissue derived from parts of the flower besides the ovary. The floral tube, formed from the basal part of the sepals, petals and stamens can become fleshy at maturity and is united with the ovary to form the fruit. Common fruits that are sometimes classified as epigynous berries include bananas, coffee, members of the genus Vaccinium (e.g., cranberries and blueberries), and members of the family Cucurbitaceae (e.g., cucumbers, melons and squash).

Another specialized term is also used for Cucurbitaceae fruits, which are modified to have a hard outer rind, and are given the special name pepo. While pepos are most common in the Cucurbitaceae, the fruits of Passiflora and Carica are sometimes also considered

The Tree of Scarlet Berries by Amy Lowell

Published April 5, 2012 by myberriesfarm
Alaska wild berries from the Innoko National W...

Alaska wild berries from the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Solmaz Hafezi

The rain gullies the garden paths And tinkles on the broad sides of grass blades. A tree, at the end of my arm, is hazy with mist. Even so, I can see that it has red berries, A scarlet fruit, Filmed over with moisture. It seems as though the rain, Dripping from it, Should be tinged with colour. I desire the berries, But, in the mist, I only scratch my hand on the thorns. Probably, too, they are bitter.

Phyllanthus Emblica

Published April 5, 2012 by myberriesfarm
Nelli (Tamil: நெல்லி)

Nelli (Tamil: நெல்லி) (Photo credit: dinesh_valke)

Photo by Solmaz Hafezi

Phyllanthus emblica (syn. Emblica officinalis), the Indian gooseberry, or aamla, is a deciduous tree of the Phyllanthaceae family. It is known for its edible fruit of the same name.

The tree is small to medium in size, reaching 8 to 18 m in height, with a crooked trunk and spreading branches. The branchlets are glabrous or finely pubescent, 10–20 cm long, usually deciduous; the leaves are simple, subsessile and closely set along branchlets, light green, resembling pinnate leaves. The flowers are greenish-yellow. The fruit are nearly spherical, light greenish yellow, quite smooth and hard on appearance, with six vertical stripes or furrows.

Ripening in autumn, the berries are harvested by hand after climbing to upper branches bearing the fruits. The taste of Indian gooseberry is sour, bitter and astringent, and it is quite fibrous. In India, it is common to eat gooseberries steeped in salt water and turmeric to make the sour fruits palatable. It is also used to straighten hair.

Indian gooseberry has undergone preliminary research, demonstrating in vitro antiviral and antimicrobial properties. There is preliminary evidence in vitro that its extracts induce apoptosis and modify gene expression in osteoclasts involved in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. It may prove to have potential activity against some cancers. One recent animal study found treatment with E. officinalis reduced severity of acute pancreatitis (induced by L-arginine in rats). It also promoted the spontaneous repair and regeneration process of the pancreas occurring after an acute attack.

Experimental preparations of leaves, bark or fruit have shown potential efficacy against laboratory models of disease, such as for inflammation, cancer, age-related renal disease, and diabetes.

A human pilot study demonstrated a reduction of blood cholesterol levels in both normal and hypercholesterolemic men with treatment. Another recent study with alloxan-induced diabetic rats given an aqueous amla fruit extract has shown significant decrease of the blood glucose, as well as triglyceridemic levels and an improvement of the liver function caused by a normalization of the liver-specific enzyme alanine transaminase activity.

Although these fruits are reputed to contain high amounts of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), 445 mg/100g, the specific contents are disputed, and the overall antioxidant strength of amla may derive instead from its high density of tannins. The fruit also contains other polyphenols: flavonoids, kaempferol, ellagic acid and gallic acid.

Indian gooseberry Phyllanthus emblica at Jayan...

Indian gooseberry Phyllanthus emblica at Jayanti in Buxa Tiger Reserve in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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In traditional Indian medicine, dried and fresh fruits of the plant are used. All parts of the plant are used in various Ayurvedic/Unani medicine (Jawarish amla) herbal preparations, including the fruit, seed, leaves, root, bark and flowers. According to Ayurveda, aamla fruit is sour (amla) and astringent (kashaya) in taste (rasa), with sweet (madhura), bitter (tikta) and pungent (katu) secondary tastes (anurasas). Its qualities (gunas) are light (laghu) and dry (ruksha), the postdigestive effect (vipaka) is sweet (madhura), and its energy (virya) is cooling (shita).

According to Ayurveda, aamla balances all three doshas. While aamla is unusual in that it contains five out of the six tastes recognized by Ayurved, it is most important to recognize the effects of the “virya”, or potency, and “vipaka”, or post-digestive effect. Considered in this light, aamla is particularly helpful in reducing pitta due to its cooling energy and balances both Pitta and vata by virtue of its sweet taste. The kapha is balanced primarily due to its drying action. It may be used as a rasayana (rejuvenative) to promote longevity, and traditionally to enhance digestion (dipanapachana), treat constipation (anuloma), reduce fever (jvaraghna), purify the blood (raktaprasadana), reduce cough (kasahara), alleviate asthma (svasahara), strengthen the heart (hrdaya), benefit the eyes (chakshushya), stimulate hair growth (romasanjana), enliven the body (jivaniya), and enhance intellect (medhya).

In Ayurvedic polyherbal formulations, Indian gooseberry is a common constituent, and most notably is the primary ingredient in an ancient herbal rasayana called Chyawanprash. This formula, which contains 43 herbal ingredients as well as clarified butter, sesame oil, sugar cane juice, and honey, was first mentioned in the Charaka Samhita as a premier rejuvenative compound.

A jar of South Indian Andhra amla pickleIn Chinese traditional therapy, this fruit is called yuganzi (余甘子), which is used to cure throat inflammation.

Indian gooseberrys in central Tamilnadu i.e. s...

Indian gooseberrys in central Tamilnadu i.e. salem ditrict green hills(பச்சைமலைத் தொடர்) தமிழ்: இடம்:இந்தியா,தமிழகம்,சேலம் மாவட்டம். பச்சைமலைத் தொடரில் மலையேறும் போது, சேகரித்த நெல்லிகள். அரிநெல்லிகளைப் போல வடிவம்.ஆனால் பெருநெல்லிகளைப் போன்ற அளவு. இக்காட்டின நெல்லிமரம், தற்போது விவசாயிகள் பயிரிடும் கலப்பின பெருநெல்லினத்திற்கு தாய்மரமாக இருக்கலாம். இதன் ருசி, 5 சுவைகளையும் தருகிறது. ஆனால், கலப்பின நெல்லிகளிலே ருசியில்லை. நீர்ப்புத்தன்மையே காணப்படுகிறது. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Photo by Solmaz Hafezi

Emblica officinalis tea may ameliorate diabetic neuropathy. In rats it significantly reduced blood glucose, food intake, water intake and urine output in diabetic rats compared with the non‐ diabetic control group.

Particularly in South India, the fruit is pickled with salt, oil, and spices. Aamla is eaten raw or cooked into various dishes. In Andhra Pradesh, tender varieties are used to prepare dal (a lentil preparation), and amle ka murabbah, a sweet dish indigenous to the northern part of India (wherein the berries are soaked in sugar syrup for a long time till they are imparted the sweet flavor); it is traditionally consumed after meals

Gathering Berries by Aleria Jensen

Published April 5, 2012 by myberriesfarm
Urera caracasana fruits

Urera caracasana fruits (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Urera caracasana fruits (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gathering Berries by Aleria Jensen Published in the September/October 2007 issue of Orion magazine

I KNEEL IN THE MUSKEG, bucket between my legs, cushion of sphagnum moss crimson beneath my rubber boots. My fingers follow an old pattern: pluck, twist, plop into the bucket. Among the browning skunk cabbage beneath the jack pines, clusters of bunchberry announce fall’s arrival like splashes of wine. Nearby my brother leans into the hillside.

I have picked blueberries on this island for as long as I can remember. Before me—mother, father, grandmother. A hundred years, and every year the berries bring their summer glow to our freezers, our ovens, our plates.

The search image for berries lies deep in my body, wherever such inclinations reside. Scan the meadow, the forest edge, the avalanche chutes. Highbush or lowbush? Blueberry or black huckleberry? Wrinkled and wormy or a plump, perfect, purple sphere? My eyes don’t even pause on the empty bushes. Scan left, right. Up ahead—jackpot. A loaded bush, heavy with fruit. Bend over, pick till your back hurts. Fall to your knees, pick. Stretch. Sink back down. The harvest is deeply satisfying, an old rhythm of provisioning for winter, of sharing in what the land has to offer. I am slowed into meditations on the shape of leaves, the rising scent of earth, the gradual cycle of ripening. This is one of the great traditions of my life.

Today, half the berries I touch dissolve beneath my fingers, the water-logged spheres spitting soggy grains from their skins. This has been southeast Alaska’s wettest summer in thirty years. Many of us in the rainy capital city have spent a good deal of time and conversation feeling sorry for ourselves, owing to the particular lack of sunshine this year. And now fall has come, light is waning, water has gotten to the berries. Grumbling, I mutter to my brother about the sodden mush I keep picking. He replies, “The land just gives and gives and gives, and all we do is show up.” Looking up from a bush, he adds, “I think they’re in exceptional condition, given everything they’ve been through.”

I continue to pick and realize he is right. All we do is show up. Wake up, drink our coffee, jump in the car, head for these boggy slopes. Expect the land to provide. And it does. Despite the soggy ones, there are plenty of good berries. Plenty for us, for bears and birds and insect larvae. Plenty for muffins, pancakes, and smoothies. Even if it takes longer to fill our buckets, if some fruits are saturated, if we slip and slide and have to hold our pails high above the dripping branches. It’s part of living among wilderness, in a rainforest. Part of why we love it here.

I find myself feeling a huge gratitude, not only for what the land shares, but what it endures. Given everything they’ve been through. Mid-September, cold mists, no sun by which to ripen, berries still hanging on. I think about the story line leading to each fruit. The poor drainage and low nutrients that give rise to the muskeg. The perennial ericaceous shrub surviving winter temperatures and darkness. The pink blossom opening in April or May. The dusting of pollen that must be exchanged, the hovering of bumblebees and hummingbirds. Each fruit an evolution.

At the end of the day, covered in mud, tongues purple, we tramp down through fog and reddening moss. We stop to pop berries into our mouths, last tastes for the day. These tart ones, so different from the sweet domesticated ones sold by the pint at the supermarket. Within it, each fruit holds what I hold: an accumulation of place. The tangy explosion of these northern berries on the tongue is the landscape communicating itself, an expression of its essential wild character. Taste me—here is your peat moss, your snowmelt, your glacial till. Here is your hemlock root, your jack pine, your overwintering bee. Taste me