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Exotic Vegetables and Star Fruit Month – February 2023

Exotic Vegetables and Star Fruit Month is celebrated every February to satisfy our curiosity and take our taste buds on an adventure. ‘Exotic’ means different things to different people. An exotic vegetable can be a vegetable foreign to your region or one you have not tried before. Examples of exotic vegetables in the United States include broccoli romanesco, black radish, purple yams, and fiddleheads. On the other hand, star fruit, also known as carambola, is a fruit native to tropical Southeast Asia; named so because, upon slicing, the pieces become star-shaped. Did you know that star fruit was first introduced to America in 1887?

History of Exotic Vegetables and Star Fruit Month

Tomatoes are plants facing an identity crisis. Scientifically or botanically, they are classified as fruits, but their culinary application is that of a vegetable. Based on the 1893 U.S. Supreme Court judgment, tomatoes are legally vegetables and scientifically fruits. The origin of the modern tomatoes can be traced to their wild ancestor, ‘Solanum pimpinellifolium,’ which is native to western South America. These ancestors were small, no bigger than peas.

Tomatoes were first domesticated by the Aztecs and people in Mesoamerica between 700 and 500 B.C. It was eaten fresh and cooked. A Spanish missionary to New Spain — currently Mexico — explained how he encountered a wide variety of tomatoes and how the Aztecs used them to cook various sauces during his time there.

Yellow tomatoes are thought to have been introduced to Europe in the 16th century by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés. Tomatoes were quickly taken in by the Spanish and Italians. Before that, it was mainly used as an ornamental plant. In France and Northern Europe, it was recognized by botanists as the relative of the poisonous belladonna and deadly nightshade. In 1692, one of the earliest tomato recipes appeared in a cookbook in Naples. Over time, different varieties of tomatoes were developed in Italy, including dried tomatoes, sauce tomatoes, pizza tomatoes, and tomatoes for long-term storage.

Tomatoes are thought to have been introduced to the United States from the Caribbean. By the mid-18th century, tomatoes were being cultivated in Carolina plantations and some parts of the southwest. Thomas Jefferson grew tomatoes at Monticello in 1781 after his trip to Paris. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that tomatoes became widely accepted in the United States.

Exotic Vegetables and Star Fruit Month timeline

700 B.C. — 500 B.C.
The Domestication of Tomatoes

Aztecs and people in Mesoamerica start cultivating tomatoes.

16th Century
Tomatoes in Europe

Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, introduces yellow tomatoes to Europe.

1692
Recipes

Tomato recipes appear in a cookbook in Naples.

Early 20th Century
A Household Staple

Tomatoes become a household staple food across the United States.

Exotic Vegetables and Star Fruit Month FAQs

When is the star fruit in season?

Star fruit is usually in season from mid-summer to early winter. That is October through early December.

What are exotic fruits and vegetables?

The term “exotic” has a different meaning for each person. However, exotic fruits and vegetables are those foreign to your region.

Which country is known for its exotic fruits?

Although there is no particular country known for its exotic fruits, regions such as Southeast Asia and South America export more fruits to other countries than any other region.

Exotic Vegetables and Star Fruit Month Activities

  1. Eat a star fruit

    Exotic, yes, but they are widely available in the United States. Check a nearby store for fresh star fruits. Once you get your star fruits, you can thoroughly rinse them, cut off the ends, remove the seeds, and enjoy. You may eat star fruits without peeling or deseeding them, as the entire fruit is edible.

  2. Prepare dishes using exotic vegetables

    Exotic vegetables can open a whole world of flavors you have never experienced. Check nearby grocery stores or markets for exotic vegetables, look up recipes that include these vegetables, and prepare a new dish every day throughout the Month.

  3. Make an exotic fruit salad

    Have you tried Thai tropical fruit salad? That is a combination of chopped and sliced local and exotic fruits, including Mexican papayas, star fruits, dragon fruits, mangoes, pineapples, and lychees. You create your special exotic fruit salad using carefully selected foreign fruits available locally. Make it both delicious and nutritious.

5 Interesting Facts About Fruits And Vegetables

  1. Banana clones

    The cavendish banana, eaten worldwide today, is cloned from a single banana plant in Southeast Asia.

  2. Tomatoes are fruits

    Botanically, tomatoes are not vegetables but fruits.

  3. Space vegetable

    Potatoes are the first vegetables grown in space.

  4. Thriving in soil and water

    Cucumbers can grow in soil and water.

  5. More protein than steak

    Broccoli offers more protein than steak, with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Why We Love Exotic Vegetables and Star Fruit Month

  1. Vegetables and fruits are nutritious

    Vegetables and fruits offer almost all the nutrients that the body needs. That includes vitamins A, C, and E, folic acid, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium. They are a good source of dietary fiber and protect from diabetes, stroke, cancer, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases.

  2. An opportunity to learn about new vegetables

    Exotic Vegetables and Star Fruit Month gives you a month-long period to learn about new vegetables. It’s a great opportunity to incorporate them into your diet.

  3. Exploring new recipes

    Learning about new vegetables means you also get to explore various ways they can be used in cooking. For example, Romanesco broccoli can be used as an ingredient in preparing pasta, casserole, or a vegan dish.

Exotic Vegetables and Star Fruit Month dates

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