Can I eat this fruit?
July 21, 2012 1:56 PM   Subscribe

Can I eat these nectarine-plum cross fruits from my back yard?

I'm a "eating from your own yard" newbie.

I have 5 trees of a nectarine-plum cross, infected with peach leaf curl (previously about that). They seem to be doing the thing that some stone fruit trees do when stressed and express fruit biennially, but this year they're making a lot. So much that I got behind culling the fruit where they were growing too close together & broke a few branches.

I took some when they weren't ripe & they were very sour & not sweet enough to cut the tart. Now, I'm finding ripe ones that haven't fallen or rotten- yay! But to someone used to commercial produce, they're weird.

This one has the peach leaf curl fungus on it. Can I just cut the skin off & the fruit underneath will be OK?

This one has weird skin from touching leaves and branches and other fruits while it grew. Ignoring the actual voids/cuts in the skin, is this going to be nothing more than odd texture? (I didn't eat this one because I don't think it was ripe yet, but is fruit without voids but with scaly areas OK?)

This one (and another, taken with flash) has weird stuff happening to the pit. What is that?

This one has a visitor (squick alert). The trees haven't been sprayed with any insecticide, just some liqui-kop last fall in a vain attempt to curtail the leaf fungus. I didn't eat this one, but included it so we'd have some idea about what kind of infestation might be in other fruits.

This one has weird brown coffee-ground-sized stuff left behind when the pit is removed. What is it? I rinsed it & scraped at the ┬┐decomposed pit? a bit & ate it anyway. It was super-yum.

This one looks pretty good but what's that clear-ish area inside? After seeing the larvae, I'm getting worried about eggs of some creature. Ewww! But hey, it's nature, right? Fruit isn't made in a plastic injection molding machine.

The last two look like a worse version of the "clear spots" where there are actual voids. Nothing's wriggling in there, but it's kinda yucky thinking about what this might be.
posted by morganw to Food & Drink (10 answers total)
There's not a thing wrong with them. Cut around the discolored/mushy bits and peel them if the skin looks either tough or blemished.

My dad had a lot of fruit trees when I was growing up. They didn't produce perfect looking fruit, and you never ate one without a paring knife because you had to cut around the worms (it's life; so what?), but that was the best tasting fruit ever.

If they taste good, eat them.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:43 PM on July 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

Double favorite "mudpuppie's" response. If we did not eat things with blemishes, rotten spots and worms I think evolution wold have derailed us some time ago. Enjoy, hopefully.
posted by rmhsinc at 3:01 PM on July 21, 2012

Best answer: 1) Yes, it's fine, go ahead and eat the fruit.
2) Yes, the entire fruit's fine, even the scarred bits. Scarring's a way fruits protect their delicious juicy innards, but the protection's purely "Oh no something's trying to break the skin! Let's make the skin super-tough!" Not a thing wrong with it. Eat the fruit.
3) Good question! It doesn't match any of the common stonefruit diseases, so my guess would be either a snafu in the genes due to the hybridization or a really strange bacteria (why on earth would any microorganism attack the woody pit and not go after all that easily-digestible sugar?). If it bothers you, rinse the gunk out then eat the fruit.
4) Don't eat the bug. Eat the fruit.
5) It's just bits of pit. Sometimes fruits don't develop perfectly (ever get one with a split or shattered stone from the grocer?). Eat the fruit.
6) and 7) Most likely bruising. Harmless. Eat the fruit.

Source: Master Gardener training.
posted by VelveteenBabbitt at 3:19 PM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: > If they taste good, eat them.

OK. Thanks for the reassurances! I'm nearly over my yuck factor with the ┬┐maggot?, but how did it get in there? I've been reading too much about tarantula hawks, wasps making cockroaches into zombies and fig wasps boring inside, pollinating the inward-facing "flowers," laying eggs & dying then having the newborns tunnel their way out.

Do the bugs lay eggs on the outside where it can be washed off or do they have sharp ovipositors to stick eggs under the skin.

I worked for a summer for a parasitologist and was lucky he was on ectos for Lyme disease (mites, fleas, lice, and ticks) instead of fish endos (orgs. protecting Rhode Island fisheries were a great source of grants). When we checked a (dead) bird and found a lot of lice, we were told not to worry because the chewing lice's mouthparts were selected for feathers & wouldn't be able to survive on human skin.

So, I suppose fly eggs and too-small-to-see larvae selected for living in fruit aren't going to colonize my acid stomach, right? Right!?
posted by morganw at 3:30 PM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Maggots get inside most fruits via a tiny fly that lays an egg inside. The maggot hatches in there and burrows out to start a new life cycle. Commercial fruits have several systemic insecticides sprayed on the tree to poison the entire fruit, thus the egg or maggot when it is very tiny. Most people prefer eating the poisoned fruit with the invisible maggot. I don't. It's just extra protein, and a good indication that you're not eating poison.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:16 PM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Most of the brown stuff inside is caused by the maggots, which may have left the fruit to start a new life as a fly. It doesn't taste that great, so cut it out or eat around it. The fruit that is scarred on the outside but healed over is often sweeter, in my experience. Maybe the tree's way of healing is to send extra sugar.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:39 PM on July 21, 2012

I would eat all of these.

I have an apple tree that constantly fights against coddling moth. I eat around the obviously ick parts of the apples and don't think a thing about it.
posted by purpleclover at 9:30 PM on July 21, 2012

If you're not fighting the birds and bugs for the fruit, then it isn't worth eating. Dive in before you get left out!
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:01 AM on July 22, 2012

Eat them all, they look great!

We should all be way more suspicious of the too-pretty produce at Safeway. What sprayed-on poisons prevented the blemishes? What traits were bred out to achieve uniformity at the expense of nutrition and flavor?
posted by FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.) at 9:49 AM on July 22, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all! A friend & I picked about 5 each this weekend. She picked ones that looked nice, but weren't fully ripe. I picked really ripe ones. All of mine required some surgery to separate the good bits, but they were so much better! I'm going to try picking some almost ripe ones & putting them in a paper bag with an apple to see if I can ripen them away from my competitors.
posted by morganw at 3:49 PM on July 23, 2012

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