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      Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

      Showing posts with label ginkgo. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label ginkgo. Show all posts

      Thursday, October 23, 2008

      Stinko Ginkgo

      Come here.


      Can you smell the ginkgo? No? Consider yourself lucky!

      Actually, despite the putrid smell of ripe ginkgo fruit, many (myself included) anticipate their arrival every fall. Come October I stuff my pockets full of latex gloves and plastic grocery bags and wander the streets and parks of New York City breathing deeply, searching for female ginkgo trees.

      The ripe fruit really DO smell like cheesy vomit (I don't mince words) but the nut inside the fruit is an under-appreciated delicacy in the US of A. If you get a whiff of something putrescent as you're walking down the street, look up.

      Perhaps you'll see branches laden with cantaloupe colored fruit above your head, or even better...perhaps the fruit will have started to fall, indicating it's ripe and ready to collect.
      Put on those latex gloves and pinch the fruit to squeeze out the kernel inside. This is what you'll be taking home with you. (The first time I foraged for ginkgo I made the mistake of bringing the whole fruit home. That stench fills up a studio apartment mighty fast, let me tell you!) When you get your harvest back to the kitchen, run the nuts under water to get off the last shreds of smelly flesh. Then, spread them on a cookie sheet and roast for an hour at 350 degrees.

      Once the nuts have been roasted, place them between two dish towels and tap with a hammer. After destroying a few, you’ll get a feel for how hard to hit without shattering the nuts.

      For pure ginkgo enjoyment, fry the shelled nuts in a little oil and toss with coarse salt. This is an excellent autumn snack with cold beer, cider, or a glass of wine. They’re also a tasty addition to stir fries and soups, adding unexpected texture. Or, try making a pesto from ginkgo nuts and basil; this takes perfect advantage of the cheesy nuttiness of the ginkgo seed.

      Ginkgo pesto
      In a food processor, combine 1 cup roasted, shelled gingko nuts with 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1 cup fresh basil leaves. (Yes, the end of basil season overlaps with ginkgo season.) Pulse until the mixture is a coarse paste (adding more oil if necessary), then season with salt and pepper to taste. You won’t need cheese; the ginkgo nuts do double duty in this recipe. The pesto keeps in the refrigerator for up to a month. At room temperature the oil may separate, so be sure to stir well before using.

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