Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hunting and eating the wild Ginkgo

There are a bunch of Ginkgo trees in various places around the WSU campus. When, staring up into one of them, I noticed that it was a fruit bearing female, I was pretty excited. Like with some other plants, there are male and female ginkgos. Most of the time people only plant male ginkgos for decorative purposes because the fruit produced by the females is kind of stinky and messy. However, inside the stinky fruit is a seed rumored to be delicious when cooked. I'd never tried one, and was eager to get the chance.

Today (Nov. 11 2014) when I walked by, I noticed that the ginkgo leaves had dropped, and look! in among the leaves there were a bunch of little orange fruits. I ran back to the office to get a plastic bag, and then quickly back out to the tree, anxious to get there before the overeager grounds crew that I was sure lurked just around the corner (despite the Veteran's Day holiday) could rake up the leaves and snatch the fruits into some lonesome dumpster. I collected the fruits and sealed the bag (lest the stench emanating from the fruit annoy my coworkers), and returned to the office, setting the bag on the corner of my desk.

Six hours later, I brought them home and went to work removing the stinky flesh, using gloved hands and working outdoors. I left the flesh outside so it would not stink up the apartment, and brought the exposed nuts to the kitchen sink for a good washing. At this point it became clear that something wasn't quite right with my nuts. There were only 3 nuts with big hard, sealed shells, the others all had part of the endosperm exposed as though they were either not fully mature, or maybe they had already begun to sprout (not being an expert in seed morphology, I couldn't tell which, but the important part is that the shells were not whole). I fried them up anyways just for the heck of it. The result wasn't particularly tasty. Only a few of them got the nice dark green color that ginkgo seeds are purported to attain when properly cooked. I ate a few of them and found them to be mild and unique, but not particularly delicious. I gave a few to my co-workers, who seemed to basically feel the same way. I think they'd add a nice accent to a more complex dish, but on their own, they're nothing special. I'd also be interested in trying some prepared by someone who knows what she's doing. (That was kind of anticlimactic, I know... Oh well, that's how it goes sometimes.)

Mmm!Greasy fried ginkgo seeds. (this is after I'd eaten the good looking ones, so the idea you may get from this image is probably a little bleaker than reality).

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