By Request
Betty Shimabukuro

An apple, by any
other name

The mountain apple goes by many names, the internationally accepted one being Malay apple. Others include rose apple and water apple, and that's just in English. In Malaysia, from which it hails, the little fruit bears many local names, most involving the root jambu.

I learned all this from a book called "Fruits of Warm Climates" by Julia Morton (Florida Flair Books, 1987), as quoted on Purdue University's extensive horticulture Web site -- but only after figuring out that "mountain apple," although familiar to us, is not the fruit's common name.

So, that was quick. Finding recipes -- as requested by Carolyn Kirby, who must have a bounty of the apples, by whatever name -- was harder. Lots of people have suggestions, but no recipes.

Morton says the best way to cook them is stewed with cloves and topped with cream. They are also used in sauces, jellies, pickles and, in Puerto Rico, wine. A few sources mention using them in pie, but caution that you have to make allowances for the fruit's high water content.

In Indonesia, other parts of the apple plant are also eaten -- the flowers in salads, young leaves and shoots stirred into rice or cooked as greens.

Several sources suggest using mountain apples as you would use regular apples in fruit or rice salads.

The best true recipe was found close to home, in "Tropical Fruit Cookbook," by Marilyn Rittenhouse Harris (University of Hawaii Press, 1993).

Sweet Pickled Mountain Apples

3 pounds ripe mountain apples
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
1 tablespoon ground mace
1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon whole cloves

Wash and trim apples, but do not peel. Cut in half; remove pits.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large pan and bring to boil over medium heat. Add apples and parboil until barely tender, about 30 seconds.

Pack fruit into sterilized jars or freezer bags. Pour cooking liquid over fruit and cover or seal immediately. Refrigerate.

Flavor is best after 2 weeks. May be frozen up to 6 months.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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