Wellness

The Weird, Wild World of Hybrid Produce

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Image: kalettes.com

Why settle for just kale or Brussels sprouts when you can have both…at the same time? That’s right, kalette, a kale-Brussels-sprouts hybrid now available at Trader Joe’s, is the latest in a string of crossbred produce. Kalettes come courtesy of Tozer Seeds, a British vegetable breeding company that has been developing innovative seed varieties for a quarter century (for more on how these mashups come about click here). Before you’re scared off, hybrids are NOT genetically modified crops. In fact, hybrids have been around for centuries. They’re developed from two similar parent plants (think two leafy greens) and are bred with low-tech methods with the goal usually being a change in flavor profile. In contrast, genetically modified crops, a practice that started in the 1990s, are created in labs using molecular genetics (gene cloning and protein engineering). The process involves one or more genes from entirely different species, meaning you can have a corn crop with a chicken gene and here, unlike with hybrids, the goal is usually related to resistance to pests. Now that we’ve (hopefully!) convinced you that hybrids are not only not harmful, but a great addition to your diet, here’s a look at other nutrition and antioxidant-packed produce to give traditional apples and string beans a run for their money.

Tayberry  

A cross between a raspberry and a blackberry, the tayberry has a sweet-tart balance that makes it a favorite for jams, jellies and desserts.

Tangelo

Tangelo is what you get when you cross a tangerine with a grapefruit. They range from the size of a tangerine to the size of a grapefruit, but are always pointed on one end. Expect a citrus flavor that’s slightly less biting than a grapefruit. They’re loaded with fiber plus essential vitamins and minerals.

Grapple

These grape-flavored apples are made, depending on the season, with either Fuji or Gala apples that have been specially treated, using water and concentrated grape flavor, to make them taste like grapes. They’re loaded in vitamins, minerals, nutrients and fiber, and have a low glycemic index, so they won’t spike your blood sugar.

Pomato

Mashup a potato and tomato and you get something that looks like a tomato, but has white flesh. Called a pomato, you can eat these raw or cooked.

Pluot

Pluots, a hybrid of a plum and an apricot, are one of the most commonly found hybrids. High in fiber, vitamins A and C, they’re also high in sugar, which given the two fruits they’re hybrids of shouldn’t be too surprising, making them good for pies and fruit salads.

Lemato

Crossbreed a lemon and a tomato and you get a lemato. They look like a lemon on the outside and like a tomato on the inside and, predictably, taste like tomatoes squeezed with a hint of lemon. 

Limequat

Cross a key lime with a kumquat and you’ll get a limequat, which tastes like a slightly less acidic lime and is often squeezed into drinks or used to flavor dishes. 

Fruit Salad Tree

The ultimate mashup, however, may not be a hybrid at all, but rather one of these fruit salad trees!