It is still amazing to me the amount of fresh produce we can find literally right outside our door. A few weeks ago, I posted about the citrus we have readily available around our neighborhood. We even have about 10 cups worth of fresh squeezed juice in our freezer waiting to be made into lemonade. Today, I wanted to introduce you to some of the other produce that we can find when we go out for walks.
Although the blackberries above are not yet ripe, this is one of our favorite things that grows wild all over the property! The kids love to go out and pick handfuls and eat them right off the vine. We have a pretty regular harvest of them and have even made blackberry jelly in the past. There are currently a few bags of frozen blackberries in our freezer waiting for that very thing! These are also a great natural barrier because the plant has extremely sharp thorns on it! Plant these around the property and there would be no need for a fence. Even our roaming horse will stay away from this plant.
This type of banana pictured above is a red banana. These are ornamental and not eaten by humans, although the birds are supposed to love them. They are such a nice red color and we love having them sprinkled throughout the landscape of the neighborhood. Isn't it interesting how they grow straight up? They basically line both sides of our creek.
We also have regular banana trees like the one pictured above. We have never actually been able to eat any of the bananas that grow here. They always stay green and usually are really tough and "wooden" tasting. We just recently cut a batch off and they have been green for a few weeks, but we are hopeful that they will ripen and be edible soon. Notice how the bunch grows, with a red flower bulb at the bottom.
The red bulb at the bottom is the only way I can distinguish a banana plant from a plantain (pictured above). We have gotten them confused before. Plantains also grow easily here, but we haven't been able to harvest them very well either. Most Panamanians use plantains for patacones which is a squashed and fried plantain piece. These trees get to be pretty large!
Lemongrass is not only a nice grassy plant to have in the garden, but it's also pretty tasty! You can add this to some boiling water for a tasty and healthy tea. It also tastes great added to some foods, for example a tasty meal we have with it is Pagang chicken. It has a distinct lemon smell to it and I have heard it is even a bug deterrent. A pretty handy plant to have around!
This is one we just realized that we had around the neighborhood! You probably haven't ever heard of chayote before, but it's pretty common here in Panama. You can get these at the local market for around $.25 each. It is kind of like a potato and can be added to many dishes because it really doesn't have much flavor. We have a friend who makes a pumpkin casserole with chayote and it's really tasty. My kids like to cut them up like French fries - eaten raw or baked in the oven. These grow on huge vines - I was just recently looking at bananas around the creek and ran into a chayote basically floating in mid air!
We just recently learned that quite a few of the patches that we thought were bamboo were really sugar cane! I have yet to figure out what to do with the cane, but the horses that we know seem to enjoy it, so we regularly have friends over cutting it down for them! Some day we need to figure it out...and learn how to tell it apart from the bamboo that is all over!
It is always exciting when we find something around the neighborhood that we can use or eat. It seems like every few months there is something new! We enjoy getting to use what God has blessed us with!
Are you interested in visiting Panama to learn more about moving here? Check out Panama Relocation Tours if so. This tour will take you to many cities in the area where expats have settled and introduce you to many helpful people. Each tour is 5 nights and 6 days across the entire country (and you get to meet me)!
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