If you ask me, winter is a great time to get reacquainted with some of the often ignored, in-season fruits. Of sure, you can always focus your time and affections on the popular fruits like grapefruits, oranges and kiwis. We all know that an orange contains a lot of vitamin C. However, I want to warn you, even slightly spoiled oranges can not be eaten. But how to tell if an orange is bad? And where is the culinary adventure in that? With that said, here are five, lesser known fruits to help shake up your winter menus:
Sharon Fruit
Most folks have heard of persimmons. They are often celebrated on cooking shows and on blogs alike. But what about its relative the Sharon fruit? Doesn't it deserve a little love too? It's a seedless, vibrant orange fruit that tastes sweet and slightly spicy all in one shot. Try serving it in a garden salad topped with parmesan cheese or using it to make an apricot and Sharon fruit infused yogurt dipping sauce. It also tastes great when tossed into a fruit salsa and served on top of fish tacos.
Red Bananas

Not into trying Sharon fruit? What about red bananas? In my opinion, they are the darlings of winter fruit displays. Even though you may not know what to do with red bananas just yet, you'll recognize them straight away. They have a reddish looking peel, which some may say makes them the red-headed step children of the banana world. Don't judge this banana by its funky looking peel though. It tastes just as good, if not better, than its brethren. Once you get past the reddish peel, a slightly pink, slightly raspberry tasting fruit awaits. It works well as a topping for piping hot oatmeal. You can also use it as an ingredient in banana raspberry muffins and banana fritters.
Wondering what that pudgy looking green thing is sitting on your grocer's fruit display? It may just be the cherimoya. The cherimoya is a paradox of sorts. It's classified as a fruit but tastes like a tropical custard. Thus, there is a good chance that your kids will love it. They also come in different varieties. Some of the cherimoyas have raspberry undertones whereas others taste more like peaches and papayas. You can eat it straight or use it to create amazing meringue, crème Brulee and salsas. It also works well when added to plain yogurt and homemade smoothies.
Red Currants
Looking for something a little more bold and bright? Then reach for the red currants. They are tart little orbs of goodness that look similar to cranberries. Although they are traditionally considered a summer fruit, you can still find them in some grocery stores around the winter holidays. Try converting the red currants into liqueur or a simple syrup that can be added to sauces and desserts. They also make amazing preserves, candied delights and toppings for strong game meats like venison.
Cactus Pears
Lastly, you may want to dust off those cowboy boots and gingerly grab a few cactus pears. The fruit's stunning magenta color and watermelon like flavor is outrageously appealing. Try using it to make cheesecake, lemonade, jams, glazes and salad dressings. If you can't purchase the cactus pears in your area, at least consider giving prickly pear syrup a whirl. You can typically purchase it online through specialty retailers for around $75 a gallon.
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