Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Fruit Salad Plant (Monstera Deliciosa)

Across many Australian, well established backyards there lurks a plant that many do not know is actually a fruit and it tastes amazing. Its commonly known as the Fruit Salad Plant, the botanical name is Monstera Deliciosa.

Not to be confused with the Philodendron. They are easy enough to tell apart as the Monstera Deliciosa has swiss cheese looking leaves. Philodendrons grow up right with a main central stem, whereas Monstera tend to go wide.

We grow so many strange things in our garden and this is one that even my kids like to take along to school as Show 'n' Tell (and a taste test). In many island communities they are sold at their markets as a regular fruit.

The fruit is highly acidic, and needs to ripen fully before eating. Sometimes if eaten a little too early it can feel like lots of pins and needles in your mouth. I'm not kidding. But the more riper the fruit the smoother and lovelier it becomes, and that sharp pin-like sensation mellows away.

The flavour is a strange cross between a pineapple and a banana; thus like fruit salad.

We usually harvest one or two at a time and pop them into a brown paper bag and leave them in the pantry or cupboard to ripen up. You will definitely know when they are ready to eat when your whole pantry has a sweet aroma and the outside pineapple-like scales just fall off. Start to eat where the scales fall away because that will be the sweetest and ripest part.

Usually considered a plant for Tropics, it can grow like crazy in South Australia which is a Mediterranean climate with really hot summers. Our Monstera grows between our house and neighbouring fence and faces morning sun. It seems to thrive on neglect which is great for water conservation.

Picking Tip: When they easily snap off from their base, they are ready to harvest.

So next time you go past a Fruit Salad plant, have a look if you can find any fruit. Look for fruit in Spring and Summer.

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