Whether you’re playing culinary scrabble or trying to advance your knowledge and understanding of the foods available around the world, working your way through the alphabet is a great way to learn more about food.
This list conquers the letter V, sharing with you 27 unique foods that start with the letter V and leave you vibrating with excitement to get cooking…or at least eating.
27 Foods That Start With The Letter V
1. Valencia Orange
Valencia oranges are a very popular variety of hybridized citrus fruit prized for their sweet juice. It’s the variety most commonly used for making commercial orange juice. They’re also carefully cultivated for the bright orange color, making them equally popular as a raw fruit.
2. Valencia Pride Mango
The Valencia Pride mango was originally cultivated in Florida, thought to have originated from a Haden mango. The fruits are large and S-shaped, rounded at each end. They often grow up to 2 pounds each.
The skin is mostly bright yellow but a red blush develops as the fruit ripens. Inside, the flesh is yellow, juicy, and sweet. This type of mango is noticeably less fibrous than most other varieties, adding to the list of reasons for its popularity.
Valerian root is commonly used in traditional or alternative medicine as an herb to promote relaxation and tranquility. It even has the nickname of “nature’s Valium.”
The flowers smell delightful as a perfume but it is the hairy roots that are dried and consumed.
Valerian is most commonly consumed as a supplement in capsule form, but it’s also widely available to be brewed as a tea. The flavor is woodsy and earthy, deepening the longer it is steeped. Many people will add honey, lemon, milk, or even peppermint to enhance the flavor.
The fragrance of valerian tea is even stronger than the flavor, so if you’re sensitive to smells, adding peppermint may be the best choice as it masks the earthy odor well.
4. Valor Beans
Valor beans, or valor papdi, are flat beans frequently used in Indian cuisine. They’re similar to runner beans, eaten whole with the pod. Even the leaves and flowers are edible!
This type of bean typically has a pronounced string, so when they’re being prepared they should be topped and destringed to make them more pleasant and easy to eat after they’re cooked. They’re also best when harvested young. As the bean matures it becomes more woody and fibrous, even sometimes hairy.
Vanilla is an extremely premium spice cultivated from pods of very specific orchid flowers. Second to saffron, it is one of the most expensive spices in the world.
Vanilla grows in a vine in tropical countries. It prefers to grow as tall as possible but this is highly inconvenient for harvesting, so cultivators carefully fold the plants to remain at a height more easily accessible to humans.
The seed pods grow to about 6 inches long and only about 1/3 of an inch around. They are dark brown to black when they’re ripe. Inside is an oily paste full of tiny seeds, which is the edible portion of the plant, producing the highly sought after signature flavor and aroma.
Because vanilla is so difficult to cultivate, it is commonly made synthetically as an extract or flavoring.
6. Vanilla Persimmon
Vanilla persimmons are round, yellow-orange about the size of a tennis ball, but slightly flat on each end. Like all persimmons, they’re topped with thick, glossy rounded green leaves.
The flesh inside is a richer shade of orange and extremely juicy and soft. Each fruit contains a various number of inedible seeds.
Vanilla persimmons are named for their flavor, which is richly sweet, tasting like a combination of apricot and pear, but with a delicate finish of vanilla.
They’re usually eaten fresh and raw, scooped out of their skin with a spoon. They can also be made into jam, pickled, or added to baked goods or beverages.
7. Variegated Banana
Variegated bananas are an extremely rare variety of banana tree that has deep green leaves striped with white. The bananas themselves are a light green color with vertical white stripes, which usually also create a ridged texture and mature into a golden yellow.
The flesh inside is a conventional cream color though it’s set apart from its peers with a pink interior stripe.
Similar to conventional bananas, the texture is somewhat chalky when the fruit isn’t fully ripe, though it does soften and sweeten as it matures. This type of banana is more commonly cooked which brings out a sweet, savory flavor and fluffy, light, slightly starchy texture. It can be baked, fried, grilled, or even steamed.
Veal is considered gourmet meat in many parts of the world, but it isn’t as popular in the US. The more graphic description for this type of meat is baby cows. They are typically a by-product of the dairy industry. Female babies are groomed to be future dairy cows and the male babies are fattened up for their meat.
Veal is also more nutrient-dense than beef, with less fat and cholesterol. It has a rich, flavorful lean taste that is very similar to beef, but moister.
The term vegetable is usually used in a culinary context, referring to plants that are consumed in a savory way, such as cooked broccoli or carrots, or raw salad ingredients. If salt and pepper is the seasoning of choice, we likely think of it as a vegetable.
Botanically, however, the definition is much broader. A vegetable is technically the edible portion of a plant, including stem, leaves, roots, tubers, bulbs, and flowers.
There is also a wide range of plants that are typically consumed in a savory manner but are botanically classified as fruits, which are the mature ovary of a plant. Examples of fruits that are eaten like vegetables are tomatoes, olives, green beans, and avocados.
Vegemite is an iconic spread popular in Australia. It’s made primarily from yeast extract and further flavored with spices and vegetables. The result is a very strongly flavored dark brown, nearly black spread. It has a malty, salty, and quite bitter umami flavor.
Vegemite is commonly spread over toast or crumpets or used to adding flavoring to sandwiches or as a filling for pastries and baked goods.
Most people find they either love or hate the flavor but vegans, in particular, strive to find a way to enjoy the unique spread because of its nutritional value. Among other important nutrients, vegemite is a great source of plant-based Vitamin B-12.
11. Velvet Apple
Velvet apples are not true apples but are more closely related to persimmons and black sapote. They’re tropical fruits that grow in clusters, producing 2 – 4 small, round fruits with flat tops and bottoms in each section of the tree.
The skin ranges in color from gold, to orange, or red but they’re always covered with tiny hairs giving them their velvety texture. The skin is usually discarded because it’s tough, textured, and bitter.
The flesh of a velvet apple is off-white and crisp, softening as it matures. They are sweet fruits with a flavor similar to apples but enhanced by hints of banana, strawberry, and/or mango.
12. Velvet Bean
Velvet beans grow throughout China and India on long, climbing vines. The pods range in color from standard green to deep, rich purple. The beans inside are either white, black, or dappled and grow to be about the size of large lima beans.
The pods are well known for having velvety hairs that can be irritating to the skin and they can be extremely toxic if they’re not prepared properly. Before they’re edible they must be soaked at least overnight and then thoroughly rinsed and boiled.
When safely cooked, velvet beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber and can be prepared as a standard legume or fermented similar to soybeans for tempeh.
13. Velvet Pioppini
Velvet pioppini are small mushrooms that grow in clusters with long, thin pale stalks and brown, silky flat caps. On the underside of the cap, the mushrooms are identifiable by small dark spores and gills that connect to the stem.
The caps taste best when cooked, developing a rich, meaty texture with a little bit of crunch and an earthy flavor that has a nutty sweetness and a touch of pepper. The stalks are also edible and have a firmer texture, similar to asparagus.
14. Velvet Shank
Velvet shanks are impressively hardy mushrooms that grow on trees and are capable of surviving being frozen. This makes them a favorite of cold weather foragers.
They have shiny, slick orange-brown caps with pale yellow gills underneath. The stems begin a pale yellow matching the gills but turn into a dark brown that is almost black as they mature.
The stems of the velvet shank are tough and usually discarded. The caps should be peeled and cooked before eating. They have a mealy texture and lightly sweet flavor.
15. Velvet Tamarind
Velvet tamarind fruits are similar to large grapes with hard, inedible shells, though some varieties are more tear-shaped and flattened. It’s a tropical fruit that grows from across Africa and tropical Asian countries. Also a member of the legume family, velvet tamarind has a similar sweet and sour flavor its namesake is known for.
The outer shell is a dark purple with a dusty, velvety texture. Inside the flesh is orange, containing a single flat seed. The fruit is dry and somewhat powdery, retaining the tang whether it is eaten fresh or dried and ground into a powder.
Velvet tamarind can also be boiled with water, sugar, and lemon juice to make a refreshing beverage when iced.
Venison is the meat of large game animals such as deer, elk, antelope, bison, and moose.
Being wild meat, it has a gamey flavor but that will vary depending on the type of animal. Bison, for example, is quite similar to beef in flavor, though richer and leaner. Deer, on the other hand, is extremely lean and wild tasting, with a savory, earthiness that can change depending on the diet of the animal itself.
Venison is highly nutritious, having more protein than conventionally raised red meat, as well as less cholesterol and saturated fat. This meat is also rich in vitamins, particularly B vitamins, as well as iron and other minerals.
For hunters, venison is extremely cost-effective meat. You can get a large volume from a single animal at the cost of only a hunting license. Even if you don’t hurt yourself, venison is generally less expensive than conventionally raised meat, though it will depend on your location and the time of year.
Verdolagas is also called Mexican parsley. It is an herbaceous leafy green with tender, tear-shaped green leaves growing on thin, spindly stalks that deepen to red.
The stems will grow up to a foot in length, sprawling into a low-growing mat. Each leaf can be up to 2 inches. They also produce yellow flowers which bloom as soon as they’re exposed to a hint of sunlight.
The entire plant is edible and generally used for flavoring. The flavor is tangy and acidic with a savory saltiness that is favored in Latin American cuisines.
Verdolagas does grow around the world and is treated slightly differently by each culture. For example, it is added to salsas or tamales in Mexico, pickled and served with rice in Japan, and used as a salad green in many Middle Eastern cuisines.
18. Vermont Beauty Pear
Vermont Beauty pears are grown in South Africa and Indonesia, despite their name, and there is a debate over whether or not they are the same variety as a Forelle pear. They certainly look, taste, and smell very similar.
This pear has beautiful bright yellow-green skin lightly speckled with grey. The flesh is white and has a buttery texture that is unique among pears. They do have the coarse, mealy texture known to pears, but it is very fine except for around the center core.
Vermont Beauty pears are quite fragrant, with a floral scent that some liken to wine.
19. Vezena Piperka
Vezena piperka is a type of chile pepper native to Eastern Europe. These peppers are very thin but can grow up to a foot in length, though in a curved shape.
They are green when young and ripen to have red skin and flesh. Like most peppers, the flesh is crisp and juicy, though the skin is rough and leathery. They’re usually cooked to soften up the thick, unpleasant skin.
Vezena Piperkas do have some heat to them, but they’re considered mild. The spice is nicely offset but their sweet, nutty flavor. These peppers are often dried and powdered for making paprika.
20. Victoria Plums
Victoria plums are an English variety with dusty red skin and yellow flesh. Before the fruit is mature, the skin is green, blushing to a purple-red as it ripens.
As a stonefruit, it contains a single pit that is quite fibrous and clings to the flesh with determination. The fruit itself is sweet and juicy with just a hint of tartness when fully mature.
It’s the most popular type of plum in Britain, not just because it was named for a beloved Queen, but because the trees produce prolifically and the fruit is just as delicious eaten out of hand, fresh from the tree, or preserved as jam or stewed to pair with custard.
21. Vidalia Onions
Vidalia onions are very popular, commonly grown sweet onions. They originate from the town of Vidalia, Georgia, and have the honor of being that state’s vegetable. Vidalia is a registered trademark.
Vidalia onions have a tan-yellow, papery husk and bright white, crisp, juicy flesh made up of multiple thin, layers as is typical of any onion. They are prized for their mild flavor and sweetness.
These onions are used both fresh and cooked, as easily tossed in salads and used to top burgers as they are fried, grilled, or roasted. When they’re cooked, the natural sugars caramelize adding a smoky, rich sweetness to any recipe.
22. Viking Potatoes
Viking potatoes aren’t commercially produced but they are a favorite among home gardeners because they have a generally high yield and are naturally resistant to pests and variable growing conditions. They typically grow to about 3 – 4 inches in length with the typical oblong, slightly knobby shape of potatoes.
This type of tuber has mottled red and purple skin and rich, creamy dense flesh. They’re firm and moist, melting into a tender, creamy texture when they’re cooked. They have an earthy flavor that is fairly standard to most potatoes, but perhaps a bit sweeter than average.
Vinegar is a solution of acetic acid and water, sometimes with additional trace chemicals or flavorings. It’s commonly used in the culinary space, but it can also be a handy cleaning agent, thanks to the acid.
There are many types of vinegar, made by fermenting ethanol or different types of sugar with acetic acid bacteria.
White vinegar is one of the most common types of vinegar around the world, used frequently for pickling. You can also find vinegar made from various fruits, such as the highly popular apple cider vinegar, grains, spirits, balsamic, or palm or cane sugar.
24. Vine Leaves
Vine leaves, also called grape leaves, are the large leaves from grapevines. They’re popularly used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine as a very handy way to wrap cooked meat and rice mixtures, such as dolmas.
They can be used fresh but, especially in North America, they’re more commonly purchased preserved and canned in a salty-sour brine similar to capers but not as strong.
Fresh vine leaves can also be sliced and added to a salad, soup, or pasta, adding a fresh tang with a light citrus flavor.
Vitelottes are gourmet French potatoes prized for their striking violet color. The blue-purple is solid throughout the potato and remains vivid even after they’ve been cooked.
Raw vitolette potatoes have thick, dark purple, nearly black skin. If they’re boiled, the color of the entire tuber lightens and brightens, but if they’re roasted, the color deepens.
While the color of these potatoes is the most notable feature, they also have a very enjoyable, nutty flavor and an aroma comparable to chestnuts.
26. Voavanga Fruit
Voavanga fruit, or Vangueria, is also called Spanish tamarind though it’s native to Africa and is actually part of the coffee family, rather than the legume family.
The fruits grow on a small deciduous tree or shrub and look similar to green tomatoes at first glance, ripening to a purple-brown color. The pulpy flesh inside is brown and full of seeds, which are also edible. The pulp has a sweet-sour flavor, not unlike tamarind, but with the seeds, the flavor becomes sweeter, similar to stewed apples.
The fruit can be eaten raw but it’s a major nutritional food source in Africa, so it’s also often dried or preserved as a relish.
27. Vomiting Russula
Any food that begins with the word “vomiting” can’t be good, right? Not in the case of the vomiting russula mushroom, which has a very unique, peppery flavor when it’s properly prepared. The reason for its less than appetizing name is because, if eaten raw, this mushroom can cause violent illness.
To be safe, it must be carefully parboiled or pickled before it’s eaten. Most people avoid this mushroom for safety, but it is popular in Russia and a few other Eastern European countries.
These mushrooms grow across the northern hemisphere, particularly in damp, coniferous forests. They have large, red convex or flat caps and thick, pale cream stalks. The gills on the underside of the cap are also pale cream and spaced very close together.