For most of us in the Western world, a trip to the fruit section of the grocery store is pretty mundane. Bananas…apples…maybe a mango if we’re lucky. Even some trendy farmer’s markets are pretty limited to whatever is local.
But there is an absolutely massive number of exotic fruits out there than you may have never seen before! I’ve listed 66 of them here. Even if you do recognize a few of them, some of these guys you can only get on certain continents, or cost a crazy amount of money and are only available from specialty stores in trendy US cities. For example, I bought a single Kiwano fruit the other day for $6.00 USD!
If you could pick just one to try, which one would it be? I’d love to try the cucamelon because it looks just like a mini watermelon 🙂
Chayote belongs to the same family as squash, melons and cucumbers and the plant is native to Mexico, where it grows abundantly. The fruit can be eaten raw and is sometimes used in salsas or salads, although most of the time it is marinated in either lime or lemon juice first. Most of the time however, the fruit is lightly cooked, which helps to keep the texture of the fruit. The skin does not need to be removed prior to cooking.
Persimmons are often referred to as ‘the fruit of the gods’ and there is a fair amount of history and mythology that surrounds the fruit. However, it can also be a bit controversial, because many varieties need to be very soft before they can be eaten. The Fuyu persimmon is the most accessible variety of persimmon because it is non-astringent. This means that it is sweet and tasty when the fruit is firm.
Durian one of those foods that people either love or hate. Inside the thorny exterior is a soft creamy fruit that has an extremely intense aroma. In fact, you can often smell the fruit even when the shell is intact. Descriptions of the taste vary considerably, but one example is that the fruit tastes like ‘rotten mushy onions’. Despite this, there are many people who are fanatical about the fruit and even competitive eating contests that focus on its consumption.
As appearances suggest, pomelo is a citrus fruit and it originally comes from Southeast Asia. When ripe, the fruit is yellow or pale green and tends to have white flesh and thick rind. The taste is like a sweet grapefruit and it lacks the bitterness normally associated with grapefruit. However, the fruit does still have the potential to interact with some medications in the same way that grapefruit does.
Starfruit is a type of tropical fruit that is rapidly becoming popular in the United States. The shape of the fruit means that when it is sliced, the section form five-pointed stars (although in some cases fruits may have a slightly different shape). The flesh of the fruit is crunchy and juicy, and the taste can vary considerably across the fruit. Ripe fruit can be eaten raw (in their entirety), while unripe fruit are sometimes used in cooking.
Kiwano, AKA African cucumber/horned melon
Even from the outside, the kiwano looks a little odd, and from the inside the fruit is even more confusing. The flesh itself actually tastes a combination of kiwifruit, zucchini and cucumber, which is an odd combination that also seems to be quite appealing. Eating the fruit is simple, you simply cut it in half and squeeze the green ooze out, or you can eat it with a spoon. The pulp is also good as a garnish, in fruit salads or in drinks.
The atemoya is actually a hybrid of two different fruits, which are cherimoya and the sugar-apple, although most people probably haven’t heard of those either. Even though it looks resilient, the fruit is easily damaged, so it needs to be handled carefully. While the flesh of the fruit is edible and delicious, the seeds are not safe to eat and should be avoided.
For just about any other fruit, a brown or black interior indicates that the fruit is past its best, but that’s not true for the black sapote. Instead, the interior looks like this when the fruit is ripe and ready to eat. The texture, taste and color of the fruit have all been associated with chocolate pudding, which makes the fruit both appealing and highly unusual. While a real chocolate pudding might still be more appealing, the fruit has the advantage of being much better for you.
Multiple different varieties of Buddha’s hand exist, often with considerable variation in the way that the ‘fingers’ are held. In some varieties, the fingers are close together (as in the images), while in other varieties they are splayed out in an open hand pattern. The use of this fruit is largely ornamental, both because of its appearance and because of the aroma of the fruit. However, the fruit can be eaten, and is sometimes used in desserts and in savory meals.
Canistel AKA Tiesa
Canistel is one of a few fruits in the world that isn’t juicy or particularly easy to eat. The fruit has a very chewy consistency that borders on chalky, and it is easy for some of the fibers to get stuck in your teeth. At the same time, the taste of the fruit is reminiscent of a sweet potato, although it does tend to be a more intense flavor. When eating this fruit, you want to be sure that it is ripe. This occurs when it gives in easily to a little pressure from your thumb (much like an avocado) and when the skin is entirely yellow.