Roselle may be used raw, dried or juiced. The fruit's tart flavor requires a sweetener of some kind, and it is successfully used like a cranberry in recipes for jam, jelly, chutney and even wine.
Barrel Cactus Fruit
The fruit of the Barrel cactus is best prepared in sweet applications, since its natural tartness lends itself well to a hint of sugar. Cook the fruit down with agave syrup to make a jam, jelly or a sweet and sour chutney.
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Snake gourds are long and curved vegetables that fall into two different categories. There are the extremely long varieties that are grown for ornamental purposes and have hard skin and there are those grown for eating and medicinal purposes. These Snake gourds have a waxy green skin and are often speckled or striped with a lighter shade of green. The fruit is eaten when young. Longer varieties are best harvested when they are between 16 and 18 inches long. Smaller varieties are best harvested at 6 to 8 inches in length. When the gourd is young, the seeds are fairly nonexistent and the pulp around the seed mass is firm. The taste of a Snake gourd is similar to that of a cucumber. As a Snake gourd gets older, the rind gets hard and turns red. The taste becomes bitter and the insides gelatinous. The seeds are very hard and look similar to jagged-edged watermelon seeds.
Snake gourds are available during the late summer and fall months.
Some of the longest gourds in the world are known as Snake gourd or ‘Serpent’ gourd. There are several varieties of Snake gourd that are cultivated and grown in India and other areas of the sub-tropics. These cucumber relatives can grow up to five or six feet long and when dried, can be made into a didgeridoo, an Australian Aboriginal wind instrument. Farmers tie stones to the ends of the fruit to weigh it down while it grows, to ensure straighter gourds.
Snake gourd can be prepared and used like zucchini; sautéed and served as a side dish or added to dishes with other sautéed vegetables. Snake gourds can also be stuffed or sliced and grilled. In Asian dishes, Snake gourd is made into chutneys and pickled. When the gourd is mature, the seed mass within is scraped out and used like tomato paste in various Indian dishes.
In Ayurveda, the ancient medical system of India, the Snake gourd serves multiple purposes. Ingesting the fruit, leaves and flowers of the Snake gourd plant aided in digestive disorders, diabetes, skin diseases and general malaise.
Snake gourds are native to southeastern Asia, Australia and the islands of the Western Pacific. Originally domesticated in India, the serpent-like gourd can be found growing in Africa and other tropical and sub-tropical areas around the world. Botanically known as Trichosanthes cucumerina, Snake gourd seeds traveled from China to Europe via traders in the early 18th century, and were believed to have been planted at Monticello by Thomas Jefferson in 1820.