20 Exotic Fruits You Must Try at Least Once
When you see the range of fruits and vegetables available in the supermarket, you may think we have a lot to choose from. And actually we do, but did you know that this is only the tip of the fruit iceberg?
Supermarkets these days are keen to expand their collection of fruits as consumers become more knowledgeable. But there are still lots of exotic fruits out there that we may never be able to buy in the supermarket around the corner.
Some of these exotic fruits can be really difficult to find because they are often only available in tropical areas that we don’t usually go to. You could still be in for a welcome surprise though when visiting a specialty grocery store or an Asian supermarket and find fruits you have never seen or eaten before.
20 Exotic Fruits That Are Healthy, Unique and Delicious
Move over apples, pears and bananas. Here is a list of 20 exotic fruits you may have never seen, or even heard of. They all have their own unique shape, flavors, colors and nutritional benefits. So next time you go on holiday in some tropical paradise, keep an eye out for one of these exotic and delicious fruits and indulge yourself.
The cherimoya may not look overly appealing, but when you cut this little green fruit in half and eat its delicious flesh, you will most definitely want more of this.
Cherimoyas are native to South America, and over the years have also been introduced to other warm climates such as in South Europe, South Asia and Africa. The flesh of the cherimoya is of a creamy, custard-like texture which is why this fruit is also referred to as the custard apple. The cherimoya fruit is very refreshing and tastes a bit like a combination of banana, pineapple and strawberry.
The durian fruit is by many known as the smelly fruit. While it may be true that the scent of a durian’s flesh doesn’t appeal to everyone, it is in fact a very healthy and nutritious treat that you should try at least once in your life. Block your nose if you have to!
Native to Malaysia and Indonesia, many people in Southeast Asia consider durian to be the king of fruits. Don’t be surprised when people run away when you cut through its spiky skin, but the thick and custardy flesh of the durian is in fact very nutritious and rich in numerous essential vitamins and minerals.
Food writer Richard Sterling once described the odor of durian fruit as follows:
A mix of pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock…
Ouch! 🙂 But please don’t let that put you off, it’s a delicious fruit.
3. Miracle Fruit
Native to West Africa, the miracle fruit may be small but it is gifted with the power to make sour fruits taste sweet, like magic. Mix the juice of this berry of that with lemons or limes and you’ll get a delicious drink.
A molecule called miraculin has the ability to manipulate tongue receptors in a way that we interpret sour foods as sweet. A small miracle indeed!
4. Kiwano Fruit
The spiky and bright yellow/orange skin of kiwano fruit will immediately grab your attention once you see it. And when you cut one open, the soft, green flesh may surprise you even more.
Native to southern and central Africa, the kiwano fruit (or horned melon) is a rare mix of cucumber and melon. It tastes like a mix of banana, cucumber, zucchini and kiwifruit. They can be a bit pricey in the US, but it’s definitely worth a try.
The mangosteen tree is an evergreen tree believed to have originated in the Moluccas (Indonesia) and the Sunda Islands. The fruits from the mangosteen tree are dark-red or purple, with white flesh that is deliciously sweet and juicy.
The mangosteen fruit is a real treat, high in fiber and low in calories.
The kumquat fruit (or cumquat) is a winter citrus fruit, very similar to the orange but much smaller.
The evergreen kumquat tree (it’s actually more of a plant) is native to China and South Asia but have also been introduced to Europe and North America. The kumquat fruit is rich in dietary fiber and loaded with minerals and vitamins.
Brazilians like to think of Cupuaçu as an alternative to cacao and chocolate. Cupuaçu (pronounced “coo-poo-asoo”) stems from the Sterculiaceae plant family of which cacao and chocolate are the most famous products.
Rich in antioxidants and B-vitamins, the pulp of the Cupuaçu fruit is tasty and smells a bit like banana.
Rambut is Malay for “hair”, and looking at the fruit, this makes perfect sense. Rambutan is native to tropical Southeast Asia (in particular the Malay-Indonesian region), and is very closely related to the lychee.
The tender fruit inside a Rambutan is described as sweet and sour, similar to a grape. Wikihow has some great tips on how to eat and store rambutan.
Feijoa is also known as pineapple guava or guavasteen, and is native to South America but also commercially grown in California and New Zealand. The flesh of feijoa fruit is cream-colored with a jelly-like substance in the center.
Feijoas are getting more popular and regularly pop up in bigger supermarkets and in specialty markets.
10. Buddha’s Hand
Likely the most unusually shaped fruit in this list, the buddha’s hand is actually a citrus fruit, but without the pulp. A buddha’s hand doesn’t taste as bitter though, and it’s great for zesting or slicing.
11. Snake Fruit
Salak is a type of palm tree native to Indonesia, and is very popular as a snack on the streets of Bangkok, Thailand.
12. Dragon Fruit
Perhaps not as rare or unique as most other fruits in this list, dragon fruit is my personal favorite.
Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is native to South America, Central America and Mexico, and also grown in Asian regions. Dragon fruit is high in fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin C and B-vitamins, and is surprisingly low in calories.
The langsat fruit is widely grown in parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Sumatra. Similar to the rambutan fruit, the flesh of the langsat fruit also resembles a lychee.
While the langsat fruit may have the looks of a small potato, its taste is delicious and very unique, like a mix of grapes, bananas and grapefruits.
The cucamelon fruit goes by a lot of other names, such as mouse melon, Mexican sour cucumber and Mexican miniature watermelon.
Native to Mexico and Central America, cucamelon is an odd mix of watermelon and cucumber. It tastes like cucumber but with a bit of sourness to it.
With 90 cm (35 inch) in length and 50 cm (20 inch) in diameter, the fruit of the jackfruit tree (also known as jack tree) is the largest tree-borne fruit.
It may look similar to durian but they are in fact from different families, and luckily, jackfruit doesn’t smell as bad as durian does.
Named the national fruit of Bangladesh, a Jackfruit tree can produce up to 200 fruits in a year. Considering the size of the fruit, that is a lot of food!
Soursop, also known as graviola, or custard apple, is a large, green tropical fruit with flesh that tastes sweet and sour.
Native to Central America and the Caribbean Islands, is the basis for several beverages, ice creams and other sweet foods popular in South America.
Soursop has grown in popularity with herbal practitioners who recommend the fruit and leaves of the tree as a relief for several illnesses.
17. Aguaje Fruit
Very popular in the Amazon rain forest, aguaje fruit is a great source of vitamins A and C. The fruit has a dark-red scaly skin with yellow flesh inside that contains a hard nut.
Also called the “curvy fruit”, rumor has it that this fruit helps women to get curves in all the right places, but I’m not too sure about that…
The pepino is best described as a mix between a pear and a melon. Common in South America, the pepino is related to nightshades such as tomato and eggplant.
With a sweet taste similar to cucumber and honeydew melon, the pepino is entirely edible, including the skin.
The plantain (or cooking plantain) looks almost exactly like a banana, but it is a different fruit. While it’s part of the banana family, the plantain is low in sugar and should not be eaten raw.
Popular in West Africa, Central America and The Caribbean, the plantain is usually fried, boiled or turned into a soup.
20. Longan Fruit
The longan is a tropical tree related to the lychee fruit tree. The longan fruit is an exotic little treat, often referred to as dragon’s eye, because of the seed inside.
Longans have long been popular in China, not just because of their mild and fresh flavors, but also due to its claimed health benefits.
Hopefully this list of exotic fruits will inspire you to go out and about hunting for something different than the usual apple or banana. The unique flavors of some of these exotic fruits can be quite addictive! Which ones have you tried so far?