Foraging – Kousa Dogwood Fruit
I spotted these intriguing juicy fruits a few blocks away from my house and I had to reach up and grab one. I had no idea what they were, so I investigated when I got home and discovered that they are the fruits of a dogwood tree! Not our native Western Flowering Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii), which has a bitter and bumpled fruit and a six-petaled flower, but a four-petaled Asian variety called Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa). This variety is planted as an ornamental in many gardens and, once you start looking, you’ll probably notice them everywhere.
The fruit was so squishy that I couldn’t resist ripping it open and I found it filled with soft bright orange goo. I tentatively poked my tongue out and tasted it and was rewarded with an explosion of tropical flavours! It’s absolutely delicious and tastes like a cross between an apricot and a mango. You have to taste it yourself to believe it!
There aren’t many recipes online, but some people have made jams and other preserves with them. Many of them comment that they become bitter with cooking and I suspect that’s due to the skins. If I’m right, cutting them open and pushing the insides out and through a sieve would be a way to prevent the bitterness. You need to get rid of the seeds anyway. According to Flora of China they are sometimes used for making wine and, frankly, that sounds like a splendid idea.
They really are best fresh. I like to just break them open and suck the goo through my teeth to keep the seeds out (they have several decent-sized seeds).
They are ripe and starting to drop from the tree, so now is the time to pick some. You want to pick ones that are bright red and feel soft to the touch. The less ripe ones are slightly gritty and taste similar to a persimmon. Wash them (wild critters like them too) and eat them immediately, or keep them refrigerated and eat them within a few days. You can also store them in the freezer.
I think a fresh fruit dessert sauce would be delightful, or ice cream!
Go pick some and wait for someone to ask you what you’re doing. Then watch their surprise when you give it a taste. Hopefully, they will be willing to try it themselves, because the look on their face will be priceless!