Sunlight, humidity, and warmth characterize tropical countries. Manifestly so, these features also provide an excellent environment for diverse plant species. Needless to say, tropical countries certainly have an edge when it comes to growing magnificent trees. So if you’re planning to travel to any sultry destination soon, one thing you have to try out is their tropical fruits.
By definition, a tropical fruit is simply a fruit that flourishes in a tropical area. Just think about the trees that grow in Hawaii or the Caribbean. Think Tropical Asia — Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Singapore, etc. For more reasons than one, vibrant and refreshing tropical fruits do tend to grow abundantly in these areas.
Some tropical fruits are already familiar to most people around the world. But in this article, you will learn about exotic fruits that you might have been ignoring until now. These exotic fruits are usually native to tropical countries, and are not as available as, say, bananas, coconuts, and mangoes. If this piques your interest, read on.
1. Star fruit
The star fruit derives its name from its five to six ridges on its sides, resembling a star. Also known as carambola, this subtly sweet fruit hails from tropical Southeast Asia. Versatile as a fruit can get, the star fruit can be eaten either raw or cooked; it can also be used as a garnish, preservative, relish, or drink.
Often grown in the Andes mountains of South America, cherimoya evidently prefers high altitudes. Otherwise known as a custard apple or sugar apple, this green squamous tropical fruit has a creamy texture to it. For the most refreshing experience, consumers eat this chilled — just like how one would enjoy a custard.
While the guava fruit commonly grows in many tropical regions today, it originally came from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and northern South America. There are numerous guava fruit species available, varying in colors, shapes, and flavors. The pink guava has more water content and pulp, but tastes less sweet compared to the white guava.
Interestingly, guava trees can grow indoors, too, making it a popular choice among urban gardeners. Guava trees produce fruits as early as two years after having their seeds planted.
Enclosed in rough and brown skin, the sapodilla fruit holds a surprisingly sweet and juicy flesh inside. It can be eaten raw, and it has a malty taste resemblant of a peach.
The sapodilla tree lavishly grows in Central America. Although a late bloomer, this evergreen poses as a resilient plant that reaches up to 100 feet high.
Do note that this tropical fruit bears many names around the world: chico, sapote, sapota, zapotillo, chicle, and naseberry. If you’re in a quest to taste sapodilla, it would be best that you know how locals refer to it.
Native to the southeastern provinces of China, the lychee tree now grows copiously around Asia. Recognizable for its pink-red scaly skin, the lychee fruit is a small round fruit that tastes sweet, floral, and tarty all at the same time.
Also known as the papaya fruit, pawpaw abundantly grows in tropical destinations. Bursting with flavors of mango, banana, and pineapple, the taste of the pawpaw fruit is quintessentially tropical. It hails from North America, even boasting the title “America’s best secret fruit.”
Often growing in the tropical areas of America, the soursop tree bears a spiky green fruit with an edible creamy stuffing. Its tarty flavor resembles that of a pineapple or a strawberry. You can definitely enjoy the soursop fruit raw, but you can also opt to use it as a creamy pie filling.
8. Dragon fruit
Also called the pitaya, the dragon fruit is another exotic fruit that tastes like a fusion of kiwi and pear.
Easily distinguishable for its usually bright pink scaly skin, the dragon fruit contains white flesh with several black seeds. However, one species of the dragon fruit plant bears yellow dragon fruits. These are known to be the sweetest kind of dragon fruit.
Aside from the fruit itself (which can be consumed either raw or as a juice), the dragon fruit plant is also useful for its edible flowers that can also be used as a tea.
Inside the red and hairy shield of the rambutan fruit, you will find its tender white flesh. The latter tastes almost like lychee, mildly silken, sour, and sweet. This exotic fruit of Southeast Asia typically blooms from August to October.
10. Black sapote
Sporting a deep yellow-green skin, the black sapote bears a resemblance to an unripe tomato. Beyond its looks, however, the black sapote is widely known for tasting like chocolate pudding.
11. Mamey sapote
A delectable tropical snack, the mamey fruit bears the tartiness of apricots and the creaminess of avocados. This exotic fruit can be enjoyed raw, but some people like using it for milkshakes, ice cream, and other refreshments.
A tropical fruit from the Philippines, lanzones tastes a bit mellow — mostly sour with a hint of sweetness. Packed with nutrients and vitamins, it is also known as a natural antioxidant.
If you like piña colada… then you’ll like the atemoya fruit. This juicy and thick tropical fruit is actually a hybrid of the sugar apple and the cherimoya. In Taiwan, it is also known as the pineapple sugar apple.
Jackfruit is notorious for tasting like chicken when not fully ripe, but once ripened, it exudes sweet and earthy flavors. It originates from the Malaysian rainforests and southern India, and is evidently satisfied in tropical lowlands.
Strikingly purple, the mangosteen fruit mainly grows in Southeast Asia. Inside its magnificent royal-toned skin, its white flesh has a strong, stimulating taste that is both saccharine and sour. It has been crowned as the “Queen of Fruits” for its significant flavor.
16. Passion fruit
Grown in tropical climates, the passion fruit tastes sweet, vibrant, and tarty. Protecting the yellow sap is a leather-like coat (either yellow or purple) that shrivels with age. Its wrinkles are worth noting, as older passion fruits tend to be sweeter than the younger, smoother ones.
Even as a tropical fruit, the passion fruit is relatively resilient and can survive sub-tropical climates. Because of this, you can find it all over the world.
If the mangosteen is known as the “Queen of Fruits,” this is her partner. Durian is hailed the “King of Fruits” for its large size and pungent smell. Many people who are unfamiliar with this exotic fruit get turned off because of its stench; however, those who can get past the odor get to experience the sweet and custard-like taste of durian.
Acai berries have lately been making noise as a so-called superfood. These tiny, grape-like fruits get the well-deserved hype because it contains antioxidants and nutrients and provides a lot of health benefits. Numerous consumers have attributed their weight loss to this exotic fruit.
A tiny alternative to lime, the calamansi fruit is also known as Philippine lime. It is mainly used as a souring ingredient added to condiments, marinades, and dishes. As a citrus fruit, it also provides natural vitamins — making it a popular juice flavor in the tropics, as well.
The tamarind fruit grows in several tropical regions from Africa to Asia. It can be eaten fresh or dried — either way, it provides a very sour flavor. Some people like adding it to sour broth. Others enjoy it as a nutrient-dense drink.
21. Java apple
Also known as the water apple, the java apple mainly grows in the warmer areas of India and other Southeast Asian countries. It derives its moniker from its succulent characteristic that allows consumers to quench thirst.
Although visually resembling a rambutan, the pulasan is another exotic fruit that has a nutty taste to it. It hails from Malaysia and is known to be even sweeter than rambutan and lychee. To eat the pulasan fruit raw, one must twist the fruit using two hands. In Malay, they call this action pulas, literally translating to twist.
Truly an exotic fruit, babaco poses a challenge to find. For one, it mostly grows in the remote areas of the Amazon forest. On the other hand, it is also likely to suffer from plant diseases. So once you spot a babaco, don’t miss the chance to taste it. It has a unique fizzy taste that has led to its nickname —the champagne fruit! It also tastes amazing in drinks and jams.
If you’re planning to go on a tropical vacation in Bali, make sure to try out the salak fruit. Also known as the snake fruit, salak has scaly skin with reddish brown hues.
The taste of the salak fruit verges on sharp and acidic, yet candied. Locals enjoy consuming it as a snack. To eat it raw, all you have to do is crack then peel its skin open. Aside from the usual fruit, you can also find salak in jams and wine.
What are other tropical fruits you love? Share it in the comment box below!