Whenever I travel, my favorite thing to do is try the local food – especially the produce. The fruits in my grocery store at home are easily recognized; not so when I’m in Asia, Africa or South America. Many of these exotic fruits are now popping up in specialty stores and markets around the US. Next time you’re shopping, keep an eye out for these seven exotic fruits from around the world.
This tropical fruit is the size of a tangerine, with white flesh encased in a tough reddish-purple skin. The flavor is unlike any fruit I’ve tried, with a tangy, sweet taste. It was banned in the US for many years (due to fear of an Asian fruit fly infestation) but the ban was lifted a decade ago and you can now find Mangosteens at Asian markets and specialty stores.
This fruit is native to Southeast Asian and is the largest tree fruit in the world, with the ability to grow to 80 pounds. It is a starchy, mild flavored fruit that takes on the flavor of other ingredients, making it a popular vegan meat substitute (look for jackfruit tacos popping up on menus around the country). Find it at Asian markets and some mainstream grocery stores.
You may recognize this pretty pink fruit due to it’s instagram-worthy color that have made many a pink smoothie bowl. Inside that bright pink skin you’ll find white flesh dotted with tiny black seeds and a consistency similar to a kiwifruit. The taste is subtle, slightly sweet and a little crunchy. Dragon fruit is native to Mexico but grown in Asia, Central America and South America. Find it in Asian markets and well-stocked grocery stores.
While I’ll try most anything once, I skipped over this pungent fruit while traveling in Southeast Asia. It’s known for its potent smell, often compared to garbage or rotting food. This large fruit can be the size of a soccer bowl and is covered in short spikes. Once you break it open – similar to a coconut – the fleshy insides can be eaten raw or added to soups, salads and other dishes. Find it in Asian markets and specialty stores.
This small red fruit is the size of a ping pong ball and is covered with a hairy pink skin. It’s related to the lychee and has a similar juicy, sweet, white flesh. You can eat it fresh or canned. It’s native to Malaysia and is grown throughout Southeast Asia. Look for them in Asian markets.
This bright orange fruit has a spiky outside and also goes by the names kiwano, horned melon, jelly melon and hedged gourd. Inside you’ll find green and yellow flesh and edible seeds, which tastes like a cross between cucumber and lemon. Originally from Africa, it is now grown in New Zealand and California. Find it in specialty food stores and well-stocked grocery stores.
This large fruit is native to South America. It has smooth green skin and a fleshy white inside filled with brown (inedible) seeds. Cherimoya can weigh up to five pounds. The flesh is soft and custard-like and can be eaten raw, used in salads, smoothies, pies and tarts. Find it in Latin American markets and well-stocked grocery stores.
What is your favorite exotic fruit? Share your favorite in the comments section below!
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