Newsflash: If you can get past the extraordinary stench and the toxic outer flesh, the fruit of the gingko tree is edible.
Who would have thought it?
After all,the Gingko tree seems to have gone to a lot of evolutionary trouble to discourage predation of its potential progeny, starting with the extraordinary stench of its fruit (Gorgonzola cheese gone bad? dog shit? trenchfoot?). Then there’s the toxic outer flesh that can cause blisters and skin peeling. Oh, and the fact that the fruit can be poisonous when consumed in large quantities or over a long period of time.
None of those qualities deterred the charming and friendly Chinese lady I encountered this morning in Riverside Park, where she was digging in the leaves with a stick. When I asked what she was digging for, she said, “Gingko fruit.”
Her accent was so heavy that at first, I thought she was saying “Cocoa fruit.” Then I saw her collection.
Unmistakeably gingko. I realized we were standing beneath an enormous gingko tree. “Very tasty,” she said. “Very good.”
While I have no plans to harvest and cook gingko myself, here is a fascinating post by someone who did just that. Chichi at Serious Eats describes the Gingko as “the Camembert of nuts” and the taste as “complex and utterly good to eat.” While I believe her, I doubt I’ll be trying any of these gingko recipes any time soon. I’ll just stick to my admiration of the Gingko’s glorious golden leaves.
Note: If you decide to harvest gingko fruit, wear gloves when peeling to avoid a bad skin reaction.
And if you’ve ever eaten gingko, or if you plan to, please leave a comment to tell us about it.