Fruit Adventures in Homestead

This post is long overdue but with the start of classes things have been hectic. Hurricane Dorian was supposed to pass through us yesterday but in fact stayed away and luckily didn’t do much other than cause some flooding in low grassy areas throughout the area. I wish those in the Bahamas a speedy recovery from the storm, check out this link by The New York Times to see how you can help:

Last month, I visited the Fruit and Spice Park in Homestead, FL and I can safely say it won’t be my last visit. I mean, from the moment we walked in and saw all the array of tropical fruits to taste, I knew I was in for a great day.

This was the array of exotic fruits that welcomed us into the park.

Out of all the fruits I tried, here’s the rankings I would give based on how much I personally liked them:

You can see the fruits available for tasting, Canistel, Pitaya, Rollinia, Mango, Bilimbi, etc.
  1. Canistel (Pouteria campechiana) – This fruit was definitely surprising because I had heard of it before, but never tried it. It tastes sweet, similarly to a Mamey but less like pumpkin and totally unique, plus the texture was like a slightly creamy, hard-boiled egg yolk which might sound gross but trust me, it was delicious.
  2. Rollinia (Rollinia deliciosa) – Tasted like slightly lemony, custardy pudding. A bit slimy but I thought it wasn’t too bad.
  3. Bilimbi (Averrhoa bilimbi) – Many people would disagree and say this fruit is terrible because it’s sour and tastes “green”, but I thought it was awesome. Yes, it’s super sour – like a lemon but a bit more bitter, but the flavor was like a green starfruit (hint- they’re related) and with some salt it was great. I would love to grow some.
  4. Malay Apple/Pomarosa (Syzygium malaccense) – This fruit was on my wishlist to taste and I have to say despite being slightly underwhelming, I found it to be delicious. It has a soft apple-like texture and is very juicy, light sweetness and tasted like roses. It did have a slight astringent taste at the end but I suspect it varies from tree to tree. I would love to grow these here but the winter is too harsh for them, I had a potted one about 3 years ago that died around Christmas because it just can’t take the cold. I would try again if I find one and protect it more.
  5. Pitaya (Hylocereus undatus) – I’ve had this before and I am sure you have too, or at least seen it. It’s commonly called a dragonfruit (that trendy fruit that tastes like a bland and sad kiwi) and it’s a completely different thing when you taste a freshly picked and ripened one. The flavor is there and it’s very sweet and refreshing. I have some seedlings I found this week which I had forgotten about; a few years ago I sowed seeds in a pot and neglected them so much I thought they died. To my surprise they’re almost a foot long! Yes, 5 years under deep shade doesn’t help them grow but I will immediately find a good place for them and hopefully get fruit! They look healthy so that’s great.
  6. Ackee (Blighia sapida) – Another fruit I had tried previously but only in a can, and I was so scared to eat it because if you didn’t know it’s highly poisonous and can cause severe sickness if it doesn’t open by itself and is cleaned properly, so if you don’t know how to eat it DON’T!!!! I did know to eat only the aril and removed all the other pink pith, but I still only tried a tiny bit just in case I did anything wrong. The bit I tried was delicious, savory and buttery with an umami cheese flavor much better than the canned stuff. I would love to grow some but it’s a big tree! Also, I need someone to show me exactly how to clean it so I don’t poison myself (haha).
This is the Malay Apple tree. Since the park doesn’t allow picking from the trees, you have to look for fallen fruit if you want to taste something. Luckily I found a good one and it was pretty good.

Sure, I tried other fruits but really these 6 stood out. We took a tour of the grounds and our guide was very knowledgeable, plus he showed us some extra fruits that most people wouldn’t even know about. There was such a great variety of trees you just can’t see them all in one day. The plant that I was most surprised by was the Shampoo Ginger (Awapuhi) our guide showed us. He yanked off a flower and squeezed the soapy and slimy water right out of it into our hands, and to our surprise it smelled incredible, and he said you can use it as a natural soap or shampoo. So naturally, when I got home I went on Etsy and bought a rhizome which I just planted earlier in a pot (trust me, you’d do the same). After our tour we drove around and found a corner stand selling Guarapo de Caña (known as sugarcane juice in English) which was my first time trying it; it was very sweet and refreshing.

Also, I had stopped by a fruit stand called “Robert is Here” on the way back and tasted the sweetest and most flavorful mangoes ever. The variety name is “Keitt” for those of you keeping score. (I’m currently searching for a tree of these as well). I had a Canistel milkshake that was thick and super sweet, I recommend it. Also, “Donnie” avocados so far are my favorite Florida avocado; “Hass” is the typical variety everyone eats but Florida avocados are the less fatty, smooth-skinned and big avocados you see. I tried “Brogdon” but it wasn’t as good in my opinion, but I may have just had a dud fruit).

Canistel Milkshake – super thick and delicious! (Also no, I am not getting paid for advertising, but it is a cool place to visit if you’re in the area!)

I had a surprise yesterday when I checked the Passionfruit vines, we had two flowers! One of them was not pollinated because I don’t think we have Carpenter bees nearby, but the one that bloomed this morning was pollinated by me, so let’s hope for a fruit.

Passionfruit blossoms are very unique and they smell incredible. I swear, just one can be smelled from 50 feet away as the breeze carries the scent.

Going down South for a bit, enjoying the breeze and all the Foxtail Palm trees and Poincianas reminded me of my childhood growing up near Miami. I do miss the weather (it’s also hot here but there’s a lot more humidity than down in Miami (even with the everglades)) and I hope to go back soon. It was a truly memorable experience and I hope to explore much more! Backyard updates to come soon, so stay tuned. Bye for now! – Gabe

9 thoughts on “Fruit Adventures in Homestead”

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