Monday, September 8, 2008

Bilimbi

While I am on a roll about Florida flora, I want to show you another nice tree that grows and fruits easily in Miami climate: the Cucumber Tree. Averrhoa bilimbi L., a member of the family Oxalidaceae is native to the Moluccas (Indonesia) but is now cultivated in many other places in the Tropics. It forms a medium- sized to large tree that may reach a height of 60 feet, but more commonly is 20 to 30 feet. This tree has a close relative in the Star Fruit but this is more cold sensitive than the Carambola.

The mature fruits of the bilimbi resemble small cucumbers and usually range from 2 to 3 inches in length. They have a smooth thin, green rind sometimes faintly five-angled, and an acid pulp in which are imbedded several small seeds. As with the carambola, there is a sweet form of the bilimbi, which lacks the acid taste. Fruits of the bilimbi are rich source of Vitamin C. They are candied or cooked with sugar as a preserve. The pulp also is used to make a refreshing drink. The fruit is generally regarded as too acid for eating raw, but in Costa Rica, the green, uncooked fruits are prepared as a relish that is served with rice and beans. Sometimes it is an accompaniment for fish and meat. Ripe fruits are frequently added to curries in the Far East. Bilimbi is often used in place of mango to make chutney. To reduce acidity, it may be first pricked and soaked in water overnight, or soaked in salted water for a shorter time; then boiled with sugar to make a delicious jam. Half-ripe fruits are salted, set out in the sun, and pickled in brine.

Cucumber Tree

1 comment:

Murline26 said...

Hi Lan,
Great to know this tree is also in Florida. I would love to have one.
Do you know how I can get one or the fruits? I live inMiami. Let me know at Murline26@aim.com.
Thanks!!