Are These Fruit Hybrids Real or Fake?
Last weekend, I bit into my first pluot. I'm not usually a fan of plums on their own—they feel weirdly creepy on my teeth—but I love the flavor of plums. I live for apricot season, but the skin unnerves me sometimes. Perhaps I am a sensitive flower, but it would seem that a hybrid fruit would be a sensory hell custom made for me. Wrong! The pluot was delightful in both texture and flavor and I was cranky with myself for having only bought one. Pluots aren't the only hybrid fruit on the market. Enterprising growers breed mash-ups—both deliberately and accidentally—to create new, and often entertainingly named hybrid fruits that highlight the best parts of each, while making a splash of their own.
Most of these hybrid fruits are real, but one is a fake. Try to spot it.
This peach-nectarine hybrid minimizes the outer fuzz of the former while maintaining its incomparable sweet, bursting flavor. Century-plus old volumes of the American Pomological Society records credit J. W. Philippi for at least one new kind of grape, and a 1908 letter to the editor from him in the Pacific Rural Press expresses strong views on his potato hybridizing practices, but the peacherine may be Philippi's most delicious legacy.
Before there were pluots—which are primarily plum—there were plumcots. In the late 19th century, a plant breeder named Luther Burbank developed this apricot-plum hybrid that's an equal, even mix of the two. They aren't especially easy to grow, and don't take well to harvesting and shipping, so a few enterprising breeders began crossing plumcots with plums to devise a more desirable mix for market. The flip side—with more apricot and a fuzzier skin—is called an aprium.
Cross a tangerine with a pomelo or a grapefruit, and boop—you've got a tangelo. This distinctive-looking fruit has a rather pronounced nipple at one end, is extremely juicy with a sweet start and a tart finish, and is bred to be easy to peel. Walter Tennyson Swingle is credited with introducing the earliest tangelo hybrid in 1897 and went on to perfect them throughout his career. See a Minneola or Honeybell on the shelves? You've got him to thank.
Bananas and kiwis are an irrefutably excellent flavor combo, so it was just a matter of time before someone thought to mash them up. New Zealand Botanist Graham Taylor loved the crunchy, seeded flesh and creamy, banana-like center of the kiwi, but found that some consumers were put off by the fuzzy outside. It took him 12 years of root grafting, but in 1973, Taylor finally produced a smooth-skinned, easily peelable fruit that's an ideal combo of the two—albeit with a painfully short growing season each year.
Dig the wee, poppable size and edible flesh of a kumquat, but crave the glorious juice of a Key lime? Walter Tennyson Swingle strikes again with the limequat, which he hybridized successfully in 1909 and brought to market in 1913. They're edible solo—skin and all—but are excellent in salads, dipped in sweet sauces, or candied.
The identity of the fake can be found below the video.
Sadly the bakiwi—or baniwi—was but an April Fool's Day hoax a few years ago.