Fruits have always been a crucial part of our diet. The importance of fruit for our health has been taught to us since early childhood. But have we paused to think about the range of exotic fruits that are available only in certain parts of the world? If you haven’t, and if your knowledge of fruits is limited to apples, oranges and a few berries, then its time to find out more about these fruits produced and consumed in different regions of this planet. Some of these fruits are so flamboyant and flavorful, you will want to book a ticket and fly around the word just to have a taste.
12. Durian / Durionaceae
Durian, also known as the world’s smelliest fruit, is quite popular throughout Asia. Durian fruits are known for their large size, distinctive odor and the thorny spikes covering the fruit’s outer shell. The green fruit with its strong smell evokes different emotions in people, some jump in joy at the sight of it while others are disgusted to the core by the smell of it.
“King of fruits” is a term used to describe the fruit, although one may ask why such a fruit with a pungent smell that is almost always compared with raw sewage gets such a glorified term. In that case, you should bear in mind that the taste of the fruit is a complete contrast to the smell of the fruit.
11. Rose apple / Syzygium
Rose apple, plum rose and Jamboo are some of the commonly used names for this fruit. Rose apples are native to South East Asia and can also be found in some areas in Africa. Most tourists would have had the chance of tasting these fruits as it is widely available in local markets. The tree itself, is an evergreen tree that can grow up to about 25 feet tall which bears juicy rose scented fruits. The fruits, rich in vitamin C, can be eaten raw or can be used in a number of recipes.
10. Monster fruit / Monstera deliciosa
Monster fruit, native to rain forests in southern Mexico and Panama, is a large leafed creeper. The fruits can grow up to 25 cm to 30 cm long and the unripe fruits are covered by scales that lifts up when the fruits become ripe. This usually takes around an year. Underneath the scales, you will discover the delicious fruity flesh. Some say that the fruit tastes like a combination of pineapple, banana and jack fruit when biting into it.
9. Jack Fruit / Artocarpus heterophyllus
Jack fruit is a species belonging to the mulberry and fig family and is native to south east and southern Asia. Grown in a humid tropical climate, the jackfruit which can weigh around 80lbs and grow up to 36 inches long and 20 inches wide. It is a delicious fruit rich in dietary fiber and Vitamin C. The enigmatic fruit tastes of a combination of apple, pineapple, mango, and banana. The jack fruit is eaten fresh and raw, served in desserts, used to make curry and also used to make jams, chutney and jelly.
8. Red Bayberry / Myrica rubra
Red Bayberry is native to eastern asia and has been grown in south central China for around 2000 years, and its popularly known as the Chinese strawberry. These fruits that grows up to 2 cm in diameter have a color that varies from white to purple, but are most commonly found as red. The flesh has a sweet taste and is eaten fresh.
7. Imbe / Garcinia livingstonei
Finally, we move on from Asian to African fruit. Imbe, known as African mangosteen, is native to tropical Africa and is a small bright orange berry that grows around 1-4cm in diameter. It is thin skinned and is comprised of a single large seed and contains latex. Although the fruits have an acidic taste, it is known to be pleasantly sweet. It can be eaten raw, added to porridge, crushed to make juice or fermented to make liqueur.
6. Cloudberry / Rubus chamaemorus
Cloudberry is native to the Arctic tundra, Alpine and the boreal forests. The plant itself is a small plant that grows to about 15 cm to 25c m tall. The berries are a distinctive golden yellow in color that are rich in vitamin C and are soft and juicy. Furthermore, cloudberries are often used in jams, liqueur, juices, tarts, meringues, soufflés and many more recipes.
5. Sugar Palm / Borassus flabellifer
Sugar palm, the Asian palmyra palm, and toddy palm, are some of the names used for this tree and is native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. This sturdy palm can grow up to 30m tall and can live up to a 100 years. The fruit can measure 10 cm in diameter and comprises of a black husk which grows in clusters. The top of the husk is cut open to reveal the sweet jelly seed sockets that contains watery fluid inside. The taste reminds one of lychees.
4. Buddha’s Hand / Citrus sarcodactylis
Citrus sarcodactylis is a citrus fruit native to North East India and China and is commonly known as Buddha’s hand or the fingered citron. The fruit is separated into finger like segments which is quite similar to a human hand and thus the plants name. The fruits range from about 6 to 12 inches in length and are said to have a bittersweet taste with little juice. Buddhas Hand is used as a religious offering in temples, in perfuming rooms and also as food and medicine.
3. Sugar Apple / Annona squamosa
Sugar apple or Sweetsop is native to tropical West Indies and America but is also grown in some south east Asian countries. The fruits are conical in shape and are about 5 to 10 cm in diameter. The outer covering has think segments which are typically pale green in color. The flesh is very sweet and tastes like custard. When ripe, the sugar apple is cut open to reveal flesh segments containing hard seeds that are thrown out.
2. Sapodilla / Manilkara zapota
Sapodilla or chikoo is an evergreen tree that is native to the Caribbean, Mexico, central America and is also found in some parts of Asia. The tree can grow to about 30m and its fruit, a large berry, measures 4 to 8 cm in diameter. Its quite similar to a ripe pear as both have a grainy consistency. The ripe fruits have around 1 to 6 seeds where the flesh range from a pale yellow to a brown color that tastes pleasantly sweet and has a malt like flavor. Typically, the sapodilla is cut in half and is eaten by hand or with a spoon. Its uses are wide; it can be used in desserts, as a syrup, in jams, pies and in many other recipes.
1. Rambutan / Nephelium lappaceum
Rambutan is native to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia. Rambutan fruits grow ion evergreen trees that can have a height of about 12-20m. The fruit is a single seeded berry that is around 3-6 cm in diameter. The outer cover of the fleshy seed has reddish color with malleable spines. In some cases you may find orange or yellow outer coverings too. The flesh is white or pale pink in color which is sweet and succulent.
Some of you might have come across these exotic fruits in your day to day life or in your travels. Let us know your experience and how you liked these fruits in the comments below.