Chickpeas don’t actually sprout and grow in aluminum cans—who knew? Similarly, wasabi doesn’t grow in the paste form that you see at sushi restaurants.
Trader Joe’s has eliminated the need for a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and processed foods have become the norm, leaving us to question what many of our favorite foods look like in the wild.
Be it for convenience, safety, or aesthetic considerations, the following 10 foods are rarely seen by the consumer in their natural state.
Surprisingly enough, the cashew nut we all know and love is actually part of the “cashew apple” grown primarily in Brazil. There’s good reason you’ve probably never seen a cashew while still attached to the vibrant fruit: Until the nut is removed and properly roasted, its toxic shell makes it unfit for consumption. (Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Commons)
In America, lychee fruit appears most commonly in teas, lassis, and alcoholic drinks due to its floral aroma and sweet taste. In its natural form, the lychee—originally grown in China—has a hard inner seed and is protected by a tough and inedible pink-red skin that’s pretty annoying to peel. (Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Food Network)
Perhaps the trendiest grain of the moment, quinoa comes from a plant known as a chenopod, and it grows in a way more closely resembling beetroots and spinach than cereals. Before they’re commercially sold, most quinoa seeds are processed in order to remove the bitter saponin coatings that protect the crop from birds during cultivation. (Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Commons)
In America, the term scallop refers to the white meat contained within numerous types of saltwater clams and mollusks. Outside the U.S., however, the scallop is often sold whole inside the fan-shaped shells that many Americans don’t even realize they’re extracted from. (Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Commons)
It’s hard to picture a date not dried and baked into a dessert, let alone growing on a tree. In its natural state, the sweet, moist, yellowish fruit grows in bunches on date palm tree. (Photos: Flickr Creative Commons, Flickr Creative Commons)
While the guava fruit is eaten raw in many of the tropical locales where it grows, Americans tend to consume the sweet fruit in juice or as an ingredient in pre-made sweets and desserts. Since there’s a large degree of variety throughout the species, guava skin exists in many combinations of sweet, sour, thick, thin, hard, soft, white, and red. (Photo: Speedy Remedies, Emzor Pharma)
Also known as garbanzo beans, this legume is typically regarded as an ingredient in hummus or a high-protein salad mix-in. Perhaps it’s surprising to think about where they originate: the beans grow in an edamame-esque seedpod on rooted plants that also grow white flowers.
(Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Commons)
When we ask for extra wasabi at a Japanese restaurant, what we’re actually referring to is wasabi paste, made from the stem of the wasabi plant. If that’s not confusing enough, the wasabi paste we’re served at mot restaurants is often not made from the plant at all, but rather an imitator. This is because as wasabi is incredibly difficult to cultivate, and rather expensive.
(Photos: The Wasabi Company, Japan Centre)
Despite the common misconception that the chipotle pepper is a unique type of pepper, the term actually just refers to smoke-dried red jalapeños. Typically, ten pounds of jalapeños will make one pound of potent and flavorful chipotle. (Photos: Flickr Creative Commons, Flickr Creative Commons)
Like lychee and guava, you’d be hard-pressed to find an actual passionfruit in the produce section of a typical American grocery store. While it’s not necessarily the most attractive food in its natural state, passion fruit’s acidic and aromatic flavor is great in all kinds of desserts—like passionfruit pavlova.
(Photos: Flickr Creative Commons, Flickr Creative Commons)