Last week I stopped by my friend’s kids’ soccer practice to be met by a palm tree bearing strange fruit. No one around me seemed to know what kind of fruit it was and I wondered aloud if it was the local loquat. Again, I was met with blank stares.
I split one open with my fingers and breathed in deeply; a sweet perfume emanated from the inside. I knew I had encountered something edible. But still, I didn’t taste.
The week passed without much thought of this strange fruit. And then tonite, when I was out for my run, I encountered a short palm with a good clumping of this fruit. And the owner of the property was in the driveway rummaging through her car.
I asked her if those were loquats and was met with a look that told me she hadn’t the slightest idea what I was talking about. So I motioned to the tree. “OHHH!” She finally understood what I was talking about. Stil, she hadn’t the slightest idea as to what kind of fruit it was. But, she said, I was free to help myself. “Take all of them.”
I took four and tasted one immediately. Sweeter than sweet–sweet enough to make your throat hurt.
And that’s when I realized I should get home and look on google image to see just what I was eating. I have a basic rule which I am always reminding my kids of: don’t just eat anything because it looks good! And tonite I broke it.
Google Image showed up lots of pictures of loquats, which slightly resembled what I was holding, except for the fact that the tree the fruit grows on is definitely not a palm. I googled “palm fruit” and came up with some hits. And when I saw “peach palm” in the description of one of them, I took a shot with Google Image and came back with my fruit.
I then told my husband I was going back to that lady’s house to pick more. My son couldn’t resist the fruit adventure and got out of bed to tag along. At the tree we noticed most were on the ground; we were probably a few days past the prime. But still, there were a lot of fruit–mostly unripe. I will have to go back over the next few days to see if I can accumulate some for jam. Even if I just make 8 jars, I will be happy. They are a stone fruit with major cling and will be more of a pain to prep than cherries, but the thrill is all in the find.
We then headed over to the soccer fields where I first encountered this fruit. But when we arrived, I noticed all the peach palm had dropped from the trees. That is when I saw my friend, Ekadasi, heading out from soccer practice with her kids. Eagerly I showed them my bucket of fruit (not very full) and offered samples. “You can eat those?” The kids were amazed. They loved the ultra sweet flavor and even asked for more.
It’s always fun to find out what is edible in your own backyard. And if anyone reading this has some peach palm growing in their backyard, please contact me. I would love to come and pick!