Melagrane—pomegranates–one of my favorite fall fruits. Remove the ruby-red, glassy seeds to enjoy their delicious, tangy flavor–all on their own, or sprinkled in/on almost anything to enhance flavor and garnish appearance: on salads, with meat or poultry, on soups, in desserts… Pomegranate seeds add texture, spectacular color, bright flavor, and are incredibly high in anti-oxidants. (For more info on pomegranates, see Ask Michele.)
Cachi (pronounced “kah-kee”)—persimmons–you’ll usually find one or the other of two different types of these glossy red-orange fruits in American markets. The most common variety is Hachiya, with fruit that is oblong, conical, and looks somewhat like a giant, orange acorn. The Hachiya persimmon is very astringent and powerfully bitter until fully ripe. When it becomes squishy soft, cut the stem top off, and eat the fruit with a spoon to enjoy its sweet, luscious flavor. The Fuyu variety is smaller, more rounded and tomato-shaped. Because the Fuyu is tannin-free, it will be non-astringent and conversely may be eaten while still quite firm. Enjoy persimmons–cachi–in sweet or savory ways: sliced in salads, in desserts, or simply eaten out of hand.
Fichi d’India—prickly pears, cactus pears–this egg/pear-shaped fruit is actually the berry of a prickly pear cactus. In the United States, the fruit skin ranges from green to dark magenta. Most of the fruit in our market has been mechanically de-prickled, but beware of some invisible stinging hairs. With a knife, remove the tough double layers of thick skin to reveal the red-violet interior. Serve chilled, peeled, whole fruits for dessert (with a fork and knife.) Inside the fruit will be tiny black seeds–too hard to chew–simply swallow them. You will be rewarded with a delicate-flavored, sweet, refreshing fruit that is low in calories and rich in fiber.
Castagne—chestnuts–these beautiful, brown, shiny nuts are in once again from Italy. Score chestnuts on their flat side and roast in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes. The shell will curl back, revealing the sweet, starchy nut inside–don’t burn your fingers! Eat and enjoy. Chestnuts may also be boiled in milk or broth, and used in many other preparations from savory to sweet.
22 Parmenter Street between Hanover and Salem Streets