Life at the 'Lik, Kids' Edition: Can I eat it?

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Chase Hedrick
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This is the first article in a series aimed at educating children living on Incirlik Air Base about "kid friendly" topics.

Have you ever seen berry-stained sections of sidewalk while walking around base during spring or early summer here? Or, have you've wondered if someone's grocery bag full of fruit spilled all over the walkway? A quick look up in those situations will likely reveal where all that fruit came from - the variety of fruit trees that grow right here on Incirlik Air Base.

The next question that might cross your mind is: can I eat it?

Most of these fresh fruits are edible, but there are some things you don't want to put in your mouth.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that if it's on the ground, don't eat it! Leave those pieces for animals. Another thing to remember is that if the fruit is up high, ask for help from an adult. Also, make sure to look at the fruit before you eat it! If there are any holes or slimy spots, toss it. An animal might have started eating it, so leave it for them to come back for seconds.

Beyond that, you might wonder if that delicious looking fruit is safe to eat. If you're interested in learning what fruits are which, here's a guide to help:

Loquat (or Chinese Plum)
Oval, rounded or pear-shaped, this small yellow-orange fruit grows in bunches on the loquat tree.

Common figs are about the size of a golf ball and have green skin that turns purple or brown when they're good to eat.

There are a variety of these on base. They can be white, light purple, pale yellow or dark red/black when they're ripe. This fruit looks like it's made of lots of little beads clustered together and looks a lot like a blackberry.

Small edible berries containing a seed grow on some local palm trees, but they're hard to find and mostly seed.

Think "poison!" There's no fruit, and all parts of this evergreen tree are poisonous. It is easily recognized by its long and skinny leaves, as well as white, pink and red flowers. Do not use them for cooking sticks or even firewood!

Reddish fruits that can grow between the size of a lemon and grapefruit. They have a thick skin and are filled with large numbers of small edible seeds embedded in a spongy white membrane.

This little fruit has a big seed inside and is green when immature and ripens to a darker purple, tan, or soft green color when ready to eat.

Bitter Orange
They look like sweet oranges in the grocery store, but they don't taste like it! They aren't bad for you, but they may surprise you if you're looking forward to the orange flavor you're used to. You can tell if it's a bitter orange by looking for a thick, rough outside.

A common fruit that looks like a small peach, this round fruit has a smooth or velvety outside.

Aloe Vera
This plant looks a big bush made of thick and fleshy green to grey-green leaves. The leaves are slightly serrated, so be careful of the "teeth" on the edges! The leaf has a clear jelly-like inside some people think is good for skin, but be careful of yellow liquid parts which have aloe vera latex and can be unsafe if eaten.

Carob pods that are green aren't ready to eat and look like big pea-pods. They grow on a carob tree and can take up to a year to ripen into dark, shriveled and mildly sweet edible pods.