Fruit trees have always been very much valued in Irish culture. Apples and wild strawberries are some of the most commonly grown fruits in Ireland. Another very common fruit is the bilberry. In Ireland it is referred to as a fraughan. It is also called the blaeberry, whortleberry, winberry, and fraughan. While closely related to the blueberry, the bilberry is a different fruit. The blueberry is native to North America while the bilberry is native to Europe.
Bilberry fruits grow on low shrubs and are nearly black berries. They produce single or paired berries on the bush rather than clusters like blueberries. The bilberry is smaller than a blueberry, has a fuller taste, and is softer and juicier. They appear nearly black with a hint of purple. The pulp is red or purple, often staining the hands, lips, and tongue of those eating the raw fruit. Bilberry extract is even used in edible ink for stamping meats.
These fruits can be eaten fresh or made into jams, desserts, juices, or pies. In some areas they are used to flavor crepes and liqueurs.
Another common fruit in Ireland is the sloe tree or blackthorn. The sloe tree is a large shrub or small tree that grows to about 16 feet in height. It has dark, often blackish bark and stiff spiny branches. The leaves are oval with serrated edges. The flowers are about a half inch in diameter with five white petals. The fruit itself is just under a half inch in diameter and is black with an indigo waxy bloom. The flesh is thin with a strong astringent flavor.
The sloe is similar to a small plum. It is rather tart if eaten unless picked after the first few days of the autumn frost or frozen after harvest. However, they are suitable for preservatives and desserts. The juice is also used in liqueurs and wines.
Other uses of the sloe include providing a “cattle-proof” hedge. Because of its thorns, the shrubs stop cattle from crossing. Also, the juice of the berries can be used to dye linen a reddish color. When washed out it leaves the linen a pale blue. Blackthorn is also an excellent firewood. It burns slowly with good heat and little smoke. It can also be polished and used for tool handles and canes.
Day 1 - Shamrock Smoothie
Makes 5 8oz. Smoothies
- kiwi fruit, peeled and quartered
1 cup seedless green grapes
1 banana, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 6 ounce carton key lime- or vanilla-flavored yogurt
1 cup orange juice or white grape juice, well-chilled
3 tablespoons honey
2 - 4 tablespoons rum (optional)
1 - 2 drops green food coloring (optional)
Fresh kiwifruit slices
1. Place kiwi fruit and banana in a 15x10x1 inch baking pan. Freeze uncovered for 2 hours or until frozen.
2. In a blender, combine grapes, yogurt, orange juice, honey, rum and 1/3 of the frozen fruit. Cover and blend until nearly smooth. Gradually add remaining fruit, blending after each addition until almost smooth. Add food coloring.
3. Pour into glasses and garnish with kiwifruit slices.
Come back tomorrow for another fruit filled St. Patrick's Day recipe.
Image courtesy of http://www.recipe.com/shamrock-smoothies/
Fruit Kabobs - Day 2
To make 5 kabobs, follow the recipe below.
- 1 green apple
- 3 kiwis
- 2 bananas
- green grapes
- wooden skewers
Add fruits to the skewers in an alternating pattern. The kids can even choose their own unique pattern. For an added bit of fun, try dipping the kabobs in cool whip with green sugar sprinkles.
image courtesy of http://fitcraftystylishandhappy.blogspot.com/2012/02/fruit-kabobs-and-dip-for-st-pattys-day.html
Avocado Deviled Eggs - Day 3
To make 12 avocado deviled eggs, follow the recipe below.
- 6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise
- 1 fully ripened avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
- 1 tablespoon plain low or no-fat yogurt
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
- Chopped chives (optional)
- In a small bowl, place egg yolks; add the avocado and mash until smooth.
- Stir in yogurt, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly.
- Stir in jalapeño and onion, then spoon into egg white shells, dividing equally.
- Arrange on a serving plate. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 hours. (Don't serve long after 3 hours as the avocado will start to darken.)
- Garnish with chives, if desired.
Image and recipe courtesy of http://www.thismamacooks.com/2013/03/healthy-st-patricks-day-snacks-avocado-deviled-eggs.html
Emerald Fluff - Day 4
To make a dessert salad serving 6-8 people, follow the recipe below.
1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and chill until served.
2. Food coloring can be added if you want a darker shade of green.
images courtesy of Melissa Snow at http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/salad/other-salad/emerald-fluff.html?p=32
Leprechaun Fruit Snack - Day 5
To make 1 fun leprechaun fruit snack follow the recipe below.
- 1 Green Apple
- 1 Clementine
- 1 Strawberry
- 2 Edible Candy Eyes
- 4 mini Heart Sprinkles
- Peanut Butter or Toothpicks
1. Cut the front off the apple. Cut out a hat from that slice.
2. Use half a toothpick (or peanut butter) to attach it to the top of the apple.
3. Cut a nose out of your apple scraps.
4. Cut a mouth out of a slice of strawberry.
5. Press on edible eyes. Use peanut butter to secure if necessary.
6. Cut clementines in half for the beard. Use broken toothpicks to secure if necessary.
7. Press heart sprinkles on the hat in the shape of a shamrock.
images courtesy of http://www.kitchenfunwithmy3sons.com/2014/02/st-patricks-day-leprechaun-fruit-snack.html
Fruit Rainbow - Day 6
- Red- Strawberries
- Orange – Orange Slices
- Yellow – Pineapple Chunks
- Green- Granny Apples
- Blue- Blueberries
- Purple – Red Grapes
- Cloud- Marshmallows or vanilla Greek yogurt
- Gold - Pineapple Chunks
Simply arrange the fruit to form a rainbow. Put a cloud at one end of the rainbow and a pot of gold at the other.
Images courtesy of http://blog.naturebox.com/posts/st-patricks-day-rainbow-fruit
Spring Green Fruit Salad - Day 7
Follow the recipe below for a fruit salad that will serve 2-4.
- 1 avocado, cubed
- 1 Granny Smith Apple, sliced into dime sized triangles
- 1 lime, squeezed
- 2 kiwis, sliced into thin rounds
- 2 Tbsp raw or roasted/salted pistachios (optional)
- 2 fresh mint sprigs, remove and chop leaves (for garnish)
- 1 Tbsp honey or agave syrup
1. Prepare all ingredients.
2. Add ingredients to large bowl.
3. Toss well with a spoon.
4. Serve immediately or cover and chill until serving.
Images courtesy of Kathy at http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2009/03/recipe-spring-green-fruit-salad.html
Cherries have great benefits like providing nutrients for a healthy heart! They taste great too! Why not get a #plantOgram cherry tree and try cherry ginger scones!
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup dried cherries
3 ounces crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (optional) http://ow.ly/i/94xSp http://ow.ly/KvnKD
With Mother’s Day around the corner, everyone is looking for gifts. And let’s face it. Moms are usually the ones handling the preparations for things, so when it comes to Mother’s Day, things tend to fall through the cracks or get pushed to the last minute. So moms end up with generic, ordinary flowers or maybe a gift certificate. Or, if you’re lucky like me, a picture of something your family has ordered you online. But they forgot to order it until that morning so all I get is a picture. Then I have to be there to get the package off the driveway when it does arrive.
What is so frustrating about Mother’s Day gifts is that most gifts are well…lackluster. Once the kids are too old to make cute crafts, the holiday loses something. And you end up with a half dead bouquet of flowers from the grocery store.
A great alternative is a fruit tree. PlantOGram ships them right to your door. You can even plant it and surprise mom with it on Mother’s Day. It’s definitely too big for you to leave under the deck and forget about for two weeks (Yep…my husband did that with a plant for me too!). And it’s an easy way to personalize the gift. You can find a fruit that you know mom likes, and choose a tree based off of that.
Consider the weather and sun, soil, and water conditions in your area. There are trees for all climates and conditions so anyone can gift a fruit tree.
This is also a great eco-friendly gift. You’re helping the environment by planting a tree. Also, the tree and the fruit will provide food and habitats for animals. If your mom is active in conserving the environment, this is an ideal gift.
Another bonus, is a lot of fruits can be used for things besides cooking. For example, apples can be used in a number of crafts. This can be a fun way for the kids and mom to connect during Mother’s Day and later when the tree has fruited.
Look through PlantOGram’s inventory of trees. There’s definitely something for mom!
Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at freedigitalimages.net