We love mysterious new ingredients. Here’s the lowdown on the latest foods – and what you're supposed to do with them

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Image: Ingredients you haven’t heard of but need to cook with

Brunifia / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: brunifia

You know what this is, right?

Sun-dried limes

They may look like your average lime that’s been left in the fridge for too long, but these, dear readers, are actually sun-dried limes.

 

Otherwise known as limu omani or black limes, they hail from the Middle East, are smaller than your typical lime, and will give dishes an acidic kick that’s sweet, sour and richly fermented all at once.

 

Pop them into stews, soups and tagines, or grind them up and add to a pulse- or grain-based salad. 

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Coconut sugar

Vying to steal the limelight from coconut oil comes coconut sugar.  

 

Made from the sap of the flower buds of the coconut palm, this tastes like brown sugar with a hint of caramel. Use in baking to make cupcakes and brownies, or even in granola to add a slightly nutty sweetness to the mix.

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Freekeh

Quinoa has had its day. The latest unpronounceable grain on the block is freekeh (pronounced free-ka).

 

This Middle Eastern staple is used in exactly the same way as quinoa – in salads, or as an alternative to rice or couscous. 

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Sprouted foods

They've been trendy in the US for a while, but now sprouted foods have started popping up in the UK too. Sprouting is a way of growing grains that allows the seeds to sprout before they're milled down into flours.

 

So, why are they so good? This process breaks down the starch content and makes it easier for our bodies to process the grain, which is handy if you’re going gluten- or wheat-free.

 

Rude Health has launched several sprouted flours, which can be popped into cakes, pancakes and dough.

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Broccoflower

It may sound like the name of a band from the 60s, but it's actually a green-, orange- or even purple-tinted vegetable that tastes like a sweeter cauliflower.

 

Broccoflower is a real blank canvas ingredient and can do all kinds of culinary tricks – topping a variety of dishes from a shepherd’s pie to a cheesecake.

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Broccoflower

charaboogity / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: 109171387@N06


Baobab

Crack open this curious-looking green pod and inside is tasty powdery white fruit. 

 

In its natural form it's become mainstream, but the powder that's also available isn’t exactly enticing on its own. However, it’s easy to stir into porridges, smoothies, biscuits, flapjacks and cheesecakes. It’s also used in jams and chutneys, as its pectin content makes it a natural setting agent.

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Baobab

Ton Rulkens / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: tonrulkens


Agretti

So, you might have to join a waiting list for this one. That’s how in-demand the green fronds of agretti currently are.

 

Originally grown in Italy, agretti is now being cultivated on British soil and is causing fights among chefs who are eager to get their hands on it. Also known as saltwort, friar’s beard or land seaweed, agretti is traditionally served with a drizzle of oil and lemon or lime. Fans claim it tastes similar to spinach.

 

Orders are now being taken for seed in 2016. What are you waiting for?

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Agretti

Brunifia / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: brunifia