I was playing a game the other day, in which you have to come up with fruit that starts with every letter of the alphabet. Apple, banana, cherry…. and that is about where I hit a blank. My epic failure at this game made me do some research and what I discovered was a whole world of delicious looking fruit that I had never even known about! I was completely shocked to find that there are actually hundreds of different types of fruit (no need to include them all as omissions in the comments), most of which I had never even heard of. This list is not to rank the fruit, but rather just to inform you about them. The only fruit on this list I consider ranked is No: 1, as it deserves the spot, in clearly being the coolest fruit on the planet. How many of these exotically delicious fruit have you tried?
Sugar Apples or Sweetsop, is native to the tropical Americas, but is also widely grown in Pakistan, India and the Philippines. The fruit looks a bit like a pine cone, and are about 10 cm in diameter. Under the hard, lumpy skin is the fragrant, whitish flesh of the fruit, which covers several seeds inside, and has a slight taste of custard.
Mammee Apple, Mamey Apple or Santo Domingo Apricot is an evergreen tree, native to South America, which was introduced to various other regions of the world including West Africa and South East Asia. They can also be found in Florida and Hawaii. The Mammee apple is actually a berry and gets up to 20 cm in diameter. It has a thick outer rind, with soft orange to yellow pulp on the inside. It usually had one seed in the centre, but larger fruit have been known to carry up to 4. The pulp is sweet and fragrant.
Cherymoya, or custard apple, is a deciduous plant found in the high lying mountainous areas of South America. The fruit is vaguely round and is found with 3 types of skin – Impressa (indented), Tuberculate (covered in nodules) or intermediate (a combination of the first two). The flesh inside the skin is very fragrant, white, juicy and has a custard like consistency. It is said that the fruit tastes like a combination of banana, passion fruit, papaya and pineapple. Mark Twain said in 1866 “ the most delicious fruit known to men, cherimoya”
Platonia or Bacuri is a large tree (reaching 40m) found in the rain forests of Brazil and Paraguay. The fruit become the size of a orange, and have a thick yellow peel which oozes a yellow latex when pressed. Inside there is a sticky white pulp, wrapped around several black seeds, which tastes pleasant and has a sweet and sour flavor.
Cocona fruit is another tropical fruit found in the mountainous regions of South America. It grows on a small shrub, and can miraculously grow from seed to fruit in less than 9 months, after which the fruit will take another 2 months to ripen. The fruit is a berry and comes in red, orange or yellow. It has a similar appearance to tomatoes, and is said to taste like a mixture between tomatoes and lemons.
Breadfruit is a large tree, in the mulberry family, found native to the Philippines and all the islands in Southeast Asia. The fruit is similar to bananas, as they can be eaten raw when ripe, and cooked when unripe. The ripe fruit is soft and sweet, while the unripe fruit is harder and starchy, which is where it got the name breadfruit from, as it tastes similar to freshly baked bread when cooked.
Duku or lungsat are two very similar fruits found throughout Asia. They come from the same family, look and taste identical, with one difference. The skin of the lungsat contains a latex substance, which is not poisonous, but causes the skin to stick slightly to the fruit, whereas the duku has no latex and the peel is removed with more ease. Inside, the fruit has 5 segments, some of which has bitter seeds inside. It is a very sweet fruit and can be prepared in a number of different ways, including being canned in syrup or being dried like raisins.
Safou is an evergreen tree found in the humid tropical forests of Africa, as far south as Angola, and as far north as Nigeria. The fruits are also known as African pears and are oblong dark blue to violet fruits up to 14cm in length, with pale green flesh inside. These fatty fruits have been said to have the ability to put an end to starvation in Africa, as 48% of the fruit is made up of essential fatty acids, amino acids, Vitamins and triglycerides. The have estimated that a one hectare plantation would be able to produce 7-8 tons of oil, and all parts of the plant can be used.
Jabuticaba, or the Brazilian grape tree, is a very strange plant native to the South Eastern parts of Brazil. What makes this plant so strange is that it fruits from its trunk. No, I did not make that up, and no the picture has not been photo shopped. Initially, yellowish white flowers will appear all over the trunk and main branches, these flowers will then turn into fruit, about 3 – 4cm in diameter. Inside the thick purple skin is the soft gelatinous flesh of the fruit, along with 1 – 4 black seeds. The fruit is sweet and can be eaten as is or made into a wine or liqueur. Unfortunately, the fruit does not keep long when off the tree and will start to ferment after about 3 or 4 days.
Rambutan is an odd fruit that looks like a furry strawberry from the outside, and much like a lychee on the inside. It is native to South East Asia, but has been spread and a smaller “wild” version can be found in Costa Rica, where it is called a Chinese sucker. The fruit is an oval shape and about 3-6 cm in diameter. Inside the slightly hard, but easily peal able skin, you can find a soft fruit that tastes slightly sweet, with a possible sour tinge.
Noni, otherwise known by many different names around the world, including the great moringa, Indian mulberry, dog dumpling and pace, is related to the coffee bean plant and is native throughout South East Asia and Australasia, but is cultivated throughout the tropics. The tree carries fruit throughout the year and the fruit tend to have a very pungent odour when ripening (also known as the cheese fruit or vomit fruit). Despite the smell, the fruit is high in fibre, vitamin A, protein, Iron and calcium, and is the staple diet on many Pacific Islands. The fruit can either be cooked into a stew or eaten raw with salt.
The Marula is a deciduous tree native to Southern and Eastern Africa. The distribution of the tree throughout Africa, follow the migratory patterns of the Bantu people, as it was an important source of food, and they planted more trees along their way. The green fruit ripens and turns yellow, the white flesh inside is succulent and has a very distinct flavor. After falling off the tree, the fruit will start to ferment and these draw in animals, like elephants and baboons, for a slightly alcoholic treat. The fruit is also used to make a popular liqueur called Amarula, which can be found at any duty-free liquor store at airports.
Salmonberrys are native to the west coast of North America, stretching from midway through Alaska, all the way down to California. They are found in moist forests and create dense thickets. The fruit looks similar to raspberries, but are more orange in color. They are sweet when eaten raw, but are often processed into juice, wine, candies and jams.
Salak fruit, also known as the snake fruit, comes from a species of palm native to Indonesia. These fruit grow at the base of the palm, and gained the name snake fruit from their red brown, scaly skin. The skin is easily removed, and inside are 3 white, sweet segments that each contain a large black inedible seed. When eaten, the fruit have a slightly acidic but sweet flavor, and the consistency of apples.
Bael, wood apple or stone apple is a species native to India, but found throughout Southeast Asia. Bael is a smooth fruit with a woody peel that is colored yellow, green or grey. The hard, woody, outer peel is so hard that it has to be cracked with a hammer. Inside is an aromatic yellow pulp with several hairy seeds. The flesh can be eaten either dried or fresh. From the fresh fruit, a juice called sharbat can be made, adding water, sugar and lime juice to the pulp. It takes just one large fruit to make 6 liters of sharbat.
The Star apple is a fruit native to the low-lying areas of Central America and the West Indies. The underside of the evergreen leaves shine with a golden color from a distance, and the tree carries small white to purple flowers with a sweet fragrance. The fruit is round, purple and has a thick, latex filled skin. If the fruit is cut horizontally, a clear star pattern can be seen in the white purple pulp. The fruit is delicious fresh, with a intense sweet taste.
Star fruit or carambola is a fruit tree native to the Philippines, but can be found throughout Southeast Asia, East Asia, South America, Florida and Hawaii. This fruit has five ridges running down its length, which when cut sideways, makes the star pattern after which it is named. The fruit is rich in Vitamin C, and Antioxidants. The fruit turns a bright yellow when ripe, has a waxy skin and the entire fruit is edible, juicy and crunchy.
The horned melon, also known as African cucumber or jelly melon, is an annual vine native to Africa, but can now be found grown in California, Australia, New Zealand and Chile as well. When ripe, the melon has a thick spiky yellow outer skin, with bright green, jelly like flesh. The flesh is often compared to the taste of a banana, with the texture of the seedy part of a cucumber or tomato. The thick skin can be eaten and is a good source of vitamin C and fibre.
Pitaya, or dragon fruit, is a cactus fruit that can be found throughout Asia, Australasia, North America and South America, even though they are believed to be native to Mexico originally. There are two main types of pitaya, the sour types, typically eaten in the Americas, and sweet types found across Asia. The fruit comes in 3 different color varieties, Labelled as red, yellow and Costa Rican pitayas. The “red” fruits are generally a bright magenta color on the outside, with yellow flesh. The Yellow Pitaya is yellow inside and out, and the Costa Rican pitayas are magenta on the outside and the inside. They smell deliciously fragrant and most have a sweet flavor similar to a kiwi fruit.
The miracle fruit, or sweet berries, is a very strange berry native to West Africa. What makes the fruit strange and miraculous, is miraculin (a sugar substitute), which is found in large quantities in the fruit, combined with a glycoprotein. The fruit itself does not contain a lot of sugar, and tastes only mildly sweet but when eaten, the glycoprotein binds to the tongues taste buds, which, for about an hour after eating the fruit, distorts any other taste into sweetness. With that effect you could technically eat a lemon, and it would taste like a ball of syrup. Although the definite reason for this occurrence is not fully understood, it would seem as if the miraculin distorts the shape of the sweetness receptors in the tongue so that they pick up on acid instead of sweetness. The sweetness receptors on your tongue then transmit to the brain to taste sweetness when they come in contact with any acidity. In the 70s attempts were made to commercialize and sell the fruit as a diet aid, as it has the potential to turn any meal sweet, without affecting your calorie intake. These attempts were shattered when the FDA declared it a food additive, due to pressure from sugar companies who could foresee big losses in profits. In the last two years the berries have been making a comeback, by being the guest star of many tasting parties in the states. The berries are dried and exported, and the party guests each have one and then taste all kinds of common foods to experience a new taste sensation with every bite.