It’s hard to beat a fresh piece of fruit. On a hot summer day, what’s better than a cold slice of watermelon? What’s more iconic than apple pie? And we Americans have such a strong love of Georgia peaches that musicians like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Lauren Alaina have written entire songs about them. However, those of us in the United States mostly stick to just a small group of the total fruits out there. We like our apples, peaches, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, watermelons, and oranges, and that’s pretty much it. But, after reading this article, you might realize that you’re missing out.
According to FruitsInfo.com, there are over 2,000 varieties of edible fruit out there and the Western diet typically includes only around 10% of those (meaning that it would include over 200 different fruits, which, in my opinion, is a bit overly generous). Even if that statistic is accurate, that would mean that most Western people would’ve never tried about 90% of the world’s fruits. What a shame! Your favorite fruit of all time could be out there and you wouldn’t even know it!
As someone who enjoys traveling and enjoys fruits, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit many foreign countries and sample the local fruits. In fact, when I arrive in a new country, one of the first things that I do is look for the nearest fruit stand and buy the weirdest-looking fruits I can find. And, while some of them have been downright gross, others have been absolutely delicious. So, in hopes of sharing my love of weird and foreign fruits with my fellow Americans, this article is all about the # delicious and weird fruits that Americans have probably never tried.
1. Salak or Snake Fruit
Without a doubt, salak is one of my favorite fruits I’ve tried in a foreign country. This fruit is also called “snake fruit” due to the fact that its skin looks nearly identical to that of a snake. If you’re fortunate enough to hold a snake fruit in your hand, you see that it feels like a snake too! This fruit is mostly commercially cultivated in Indonesia; however, you can find it all over Southeast Asia.
Personally, I would describe the flavor of salak as sweet and tangy but mild. It’s not too intense that it overwhelms your tastebuds, which makes for a nice, relaxed eating experience. It’s slightly crunchy in texture but with a bit of chewiness to it as well. All in all, if you’re ever in the Eastern Hemisphere, keep an eye out for snake fruit.
Now, you’re probably wondering why I wrote the word “mango” and added the suffix “-steen” to it, right? Is this just a weird type of mango you’ve never heard of? No. In fact, the mangosteen really couldn’t be more different than the mango. It comes in a dark purple shell with a little green stem on the top. Rip the green stem off and peel away the shell to reveal the beautiful white, fleshy fruit beneath. That’s the part that you eat.
The flavor of mangosteen might be compared to a crisp white peach but with a tropical twist to it. Indeed, this fruit only grows in the tropical regions of Southeast Asia, southwest India, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Florida. But, I bet there are a whole lot of Floridians out there who’ve never heard of mangosteen.
Cupuacu is the national fruit of Brazil and, to be honest, I’m not really sure how to pronounce its name. Any Portuguese-speakers out there can feel free to chime in. What I do know, however, is that cupuacu is one of the most interesting and delicious fruits that I’ve ever tired. This fruit is closely related to cacao, which means it has some subtle chocolatey notes in its flavor profile. It’s sort of like a more subtle version of a chocolate-covered piece of pineapple.
The cupuacu fruit is covered by a hard, brown shell that can be difficult to open. However, once you’re able to crack it, you’ll reveal a white pulpy flesh with little brown seeds inside. As long as you don’t bite down on one of those seeds and crack a tooth, I can almost guarantee you’ll enjoy eating cupuacu.
Not only is cherimoya one of the most delicious fruits you’ve never heard of, but it’s also one of the healthiest. It helps reduce inflammation, maintain healthy blood pressure, reduce the risk of cancer, and support digestion. Cherimoya is grown in tropical regions around the world but mostly in Central and South America. It looks sort of like a bumpy, green heart!
You can start your cherimoya-eating process by cutting it in half and removing the black seeds. Then, just dig in with a spoon! Cherimoya is very sweet and some have compared its flavor to a combination of pineapple and kiwi. However, the texture is similar to that of pudding, making for a very comforting eating experience..
Native to Indonesia and the Phillippines but grown throughout all of the tropical regions of the world, carambola might win the award for fruit with the coolest appearance. That’s because the ridges of a carambola fruit form a star shape when they’re cut horizontally. Hence, many people refer to this fruit as “star fruit”. The first time I ever tried star fruit was when I visited an Asian market at a young age and I remember being extremely excited by the fruit’s star-like shape and then equally thrilled by its flavor.
The yellow flesh of a star fruit is literally bursting with a bright and slightly citrusy flavor. One might compare the experience of eating star fruit to eating a grape covered in a tiny bit of lime juice. However, beware that eating a star fruit will definitely involve getting some juice on your hands. Keep a napkin handy.
6. Wax Apple or Java Apple
The first thing you should know about the wax apple is that it tastes nothing like an apple. In fact, this fruit is a berry that’s native to Southeast Asia, specifically, to an island in Indonesia called Java. Thus, this fruit is often also referred to as the Java apple.
Unlike an apple which is much more dense, the wax apple actually has a very high water content and its flesh is very similar to that of a watermelon. It’s flavor has often been described as rose-like as its sweet, slightly bitter, and very fragrant.
7. Kiwano or Spiked Melon
The kiwano is known by a whole lot of different names, including African horned cucumber, horned melon, spiked melon, and jelly melon. As you’ve probably figured out already, this fruit is covered in little spikes that make it appear as if it came from outer space (or from an episode of Rick and Morty).
Beneath the spiky yellow skin of the kiwano is jelly-like flesh, very similar to that of a passionfruit. This is a very watery fruit with a very mild flavor which some have compared to a mix of cucumber and lime with a hint of banana.