The weirdest fruit and veg

Thanks to the influence of other countries and cultures, the British diet has come a long way from plain, unseasoned meat, and soggy, over-cooked vegetables. But are we ready for this selection of weird fruit and veg that is about to become mainstream?

The smelliest fruit
Durian fruit has a distinctive spiky appearance: believe it or not, think curled up hedgehog! In fact, its name is based on the Malay word for thorn, “duri”. The fruit has a sweet taste, custardy texture and is considered a delicacy in South East Asia. A new variety of the durian fruit is about to hit supermarket shelves – it has such a strong scent that previous attempts to import it to the UK have been unsuccessful. The musang king variety of the fruit has high sulphate levels, making it very smelly. It has been compared by some to sewage and the fruit has been banned from the Singapore rail network due to its powerful pong.

However, locals describe it as ‘the king of fruits’ and experts say the stronger the odour the better, just like with a good cheese. Thanks to advances in vacuum packaging the fruit is now soon to be available to UK shoppers.

Never mind the knobbly bits…
The award for the veg that looks the most unappealing to eat could well be the kohlrabi. It certainly isn’t a looker, but this veg is packed with nutrients. Ranging in size between a golf ball and tennis ball, most kohlrabi is green but sometimes purple. They are a bulbous veg with lots of knobbly bits and leafy stalks sprouting from the top. Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall describes kohlrabi as ‘vegetable sputnik’.

It has the texture of a radish, the crunch of a carrot and a turnip-like flavour. It can be chopped or sliced in a stir-fry or eaten raw in a salad. Kohlrabi is now widely available in the UK, although when it was first grown here it was fed to cattle. It is much more prevalent in German and Dutch diets and is also popular in China and India.

Cauliflower, but not as we know it
Romanesco cauliflower is a superfood, rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and fibre. Romanesco has got to be one of the most striking varieties of veg around. Bright green, and with tightly packed florets in a fractic pattern that makes you go cross eyed if you’re not careful. You cook romanesco in the same way that you would broccoli and it tastes a lot like cauliflower with the same crumbly texture. Originally grown in Italy, romanesco was introduced to the UK by a number of high profile chefs who championed it in their restaurants. It’s now easy to find in greengrocers and in supermarkets.

Jerusalem vs globe
Most people have come across globe artichokes, but fewer make use of their knobbly cousins, the Jerusalem artichoke. With a reputation for causing flatulence, these might be one to save for a night in on your own. Jerusalem artichokes look like a stem of ginger crossed with a potato and are cooked in the same way as a spud. They have a nutty and sweet flavour and are a good source of iron.