From Pluots to Beefalo, Here’s A Brief History of Crossbred Foods

Do you know what a beefalo is? How about a tayberry? Read up on these incredible food crossbreeds and hybrids so you won't be caught off guard at the farmer's market.

  • Photo: Wikimedia Commons,     Bite Size Wellness
  • BEEFALOBeefalo—which, we must point out, has an incredible name—is a species cross between bison (buffalo) and domestic cattle of any breed. The purpose of the species cross was to blend the best qualities of bison with the best qualities of different cattle breeds. The beefalo’s makeup is typically 3/8 bison and 5/8 bovine. Curious what beefalo tastes like? Here’s Beefalo Australia)
  • BLOOD LIME This Australian fruit is a cross between the Ellendale Mandarin. To make things even more complicated, the Ellendale Mandarin is itself a cross between an orange and a mandarin. The blood lime is smaller and more sweet than the standard lime, and its flesh is a gorgeous deep red color. Juice squeezed from the fruit has a sharp, crisp, clean flavor.(Photo:
  • MANGALITSA PIG The Mangalitsa pig was born out of a 19th-century Austro-Hungarian experiment in cross-breeding with a wild boar and a pig. The result? A woolly, incredibly strange-looking animal. the Mangalitsa (often called “the Kobe beef of pork”) has found favor among chefs for its richer taste and high fat content. Order some fatty, sweet Mangalitsa bacon from the The Butcher's Daughter,
  • PLUOT The pluot (pronounced plew-ott) is a plum-apricot hybrid. Don’t confuse this fruit with a “plumcot”—the plumcot is half plum, half apricot, whereas the pluot is mostly plum (around 75%). Floyd Zaiger and his breeding company, Zaiger Genetics, developed the pluot and trademarked its name in 1990. Plums and apricots both come from the same genus—Prunus—which made crossing the two fruits relatively easy for Zaiger.(Photo:
  • TANGELO
This is a citrus fruit hybrid of tangerine and grapefruit (or pomello). According to
  • TAYBERRY This mythical-sounding fruit is a cross between the Aurora blackberry and a European raspberry variety. The berry breed was developed at the Scottish Horticultural Research Institute and named after the country's River Tay. Many say the tayberry tastes like the tart loganberry, but with a sweeter finish. Tayberries aren’t often sold commercially, but you can find them at select farmer’s markets from July through mid-August, when the berry is in season. Here’s a great recipe for Bite Size Wellness)
  • YUZU This Japanese citrus fruit is a marriage of mandarins and papedas (a citrus species native to Asia). The fruit is used in Japanese and Korean cooking, most notably as an ingredient in ponzu sauce. The prized yuzu zest combines the best flavors of Meyer lemon, mandarin orange, and grapefruit.(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
  • PLUMCOT Plumcots are another plum-apricot hybrid, developed by horticulturalist Luther Burbank in the late 19th century. Plumcots are 50% plum, 50% apricot.(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
  • RANGPUR Rangpur, also known as lemandarin, is a hybrid between the mandarin orange and the lemon. Other names given to so-called "Rangpur limes" include Canton lemon, hime lemon, cravo lemon, Japanche citroen, and mandarin lime. The fruit’s high acidity is more comparable to a lime, although rangpurs are not limes at all. The rangpur is named after the Bangladeshi city in which it was first found.(Photo:
  • TOMTATO Cherry tomatoes and white potatoes have been grafted together by Modern Farmer)

You may have stumbled across “pluots” or “beefalo” at the farmers’ market recently and been very, very confused. Both the pluot (a plum and apricot hybrid) and the beefalo (a Bison and cattle hybrid) are “crossbreeds”—or, to put it more simply, a cross between two different plant or animal species. Farmers have used crossbreeding for ages to increase the output of their crops and to produce Frankenfoods with super desirable traits. Indeed, long before chefs created mashups like the Cronut, farmers and food scientist were figuring out what would happen if you combined a tangerine and grapefruit.

Recently, a U.K. company unleashed the TomTato on the world—a plant that has been grafted to produce both cherry tomatoes and potatoes. While this plant is incredible, and has both french fry and ketchup potential, it’s not a full crossbreed, because it isn’t a different species entirely. The two plants have simply been grafted (a horticultural process where tissues from one plant are inserted into those of another) to produce the TomTato.

Regardless, there are amazing hybrid foods out there—ranging from fatty, wooly, strange-looking Mangalitsa pigs to tart, delicious tayberries—that will open up a whole new frontier of culinary exploration.

Click through the gallery to see 10 incredible food hybrids and crossbreeds, from beefalo to berries.

 

  • Amanda

    The majority of pluots in the market are actually 100% plums. Newer genetic testing has confirmed this.

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