Sunday, June 23, 2013

Colombian Fruit

I don't think i've ever been anywhere with as much fruit - both in terms of availability and variety - as Colombia. Fruit is for sale everywhere: on every corner, on the beach, in supermarkets and convenience stores and markets, and on the side of the road. And the variety is staggering. All of the usual fruits are well represented: mangos, papayas, tiny bananas, oranges, grapes, watermelon, etc. But what was really incredible was the amount of fruits that i had never seen or heard of before. Here are some of the stand outs:


The Cherimoya is an intimidating looking fruit, native to the Andes. Apparently outside of South America it is also known as a Custard Apple or a Sherbert Fruit. It's large - a bit larger than a big grapefruit - and its green and dimpled, with a lizardy-texture. But slice it open and it is soft and creamy white and tastes like an mixture of pineapple and banana and mango. You can eat it with a spoon if it is properly ripe and it is delicious.

Cherimoya, sliced open

The Tuna looked like a cactus and after returning home i realized that "tuna" is the Spanish word for cactus pear or cactus fig. It is the size of a pear and is spiny, but in the supermarkets the spines are removed. I'm not sure if the one i had was ripe enough when i had it because i understand it is supposed to be able to be spooned out, but mine was quite firm. I didn't find it overly flavorful and it is filled with small, edible seeds that gives it a weird texture. I didn't really care for this one, but i would definitely give it another try. (It does appear in jams however, which were delicious.)


Lulo looks like an orange tomato in size and texture; the inside of it is green and very tart. It is a bit sweeter than a lemon and has a different taste. They are for sale everywhere and seems to be used mostly in juices and jams. The juice is sweetened a bit, but is still tart and is served with chunks of the fruit inside. The juice was quite good, but with all the fruit chunks i found it easier to eat with a spoon. Apparently it is native to the Andes and is also called "little orange".

Lulo juice

Granadillas - a member of the passionfruit family - i had eaten before; i tried my first one in Ecuador and now get them from time to time at the supermarket in Vancouver, but in Colombia they were everywhere and were extremely cheap.  They are yellow, perfectly round, about the size of a small orange and have a little stem. You crack open the hard shell and inside is a grey, gelatinous sack of edible black seeds and delicious goo. It does not look appetizing, but it is delicious with a passionfruity flavor.
that's the Granadilla at the top in the centre
Tomate de Arbol

Known in English as the tamarillo, in Colombia i saw the Tomate de Arbol for sale in markets and by street vendors who served them sliced up in cups with honey drizzled on top. It is about the size of a roma tomato, but with a firmer flesh and is purple/burgundy in color. It wasn't overly flavorful and the flesh is firm - mine was almost like a slightly undercooked potato. I'd try it again, but wasn't taken with it the first time around.

Tomates de Arbol
Tomate de Arbol from a street vendor

Pitayas look like slightly smaller, yellow dragon fruit. And that's basically what they are. I found it to be slightly sweeter and less watery than a usual, red dragon fruit. Very tasty. I also had some Pitaya flavored yogurt, which was very nice.

Pitaya, cut open

I had heard of the mangosteen but had never had one. I was under the impression that they only grew in South East Asia, but i was mistaken, as they are also grown in Colombia. I had heard really good things about Mangosteens, so i was very excited to try them. I bought a small bag from a market in Bogota and ate the whole thing in a sitting. They are small, about the size of a golf ball, and have a hard, purple shell. Crack open the shell and there is a fragrant aroma and soft, white cloves inside that taste like - heaven. It's hard to describe. It is sweet and very flavorful, with a floral, creamy, taste that is like nothing i've ever had before. Perfection.

eating a Mangosteen


When i bought the Curuba (also spelled Ceruba), i really didn't know what to expect. It was yellow and the size and shape of a mini cucumber, but it was soft, like an over ripe banana. When i cut it open, i was not expecting what i found. The inside is like a Granadilla - gelatinous goo with seeds - but it is  yellow/pink in color. (Apparently in English it is called the banana passionfruit.) I scooped out the insides with a spoon and found that unlike the sweet Granadilla, it is tart. I found it pleasantly tart, more grapefruity than lemony. Very good.

Curubas for sale
Mango Azucar

There are so many types of mangos in Colombia and they are all fantastic, but this one stood out as being quite different. The Mango Azucar (sugar mango) is small, about the size of an apricot, and is very sweet and less fibrous than most other mangos. They still have a large pit inside, so you have to eat a lot of these tiny mangos to get your fill, but they are delicious.

Mangos Azucar

I saw these for sale in the markets and for sale on the street. They are difficult to miss. The Guanabana is huge, about a foot tall, and is dark green and covered in spikes. It sort of looks like the offspring of a lizard and a pine cone. Cut it open though and it is white and juicy and filled with large, hard, black seeds. I bought a cup of it from a street vendor. They basically scoop out some juice and some soft flesh and serve it in cups with a spoon. You can drink some of the milky juice and slurp up the soft flesh from around the seeds. It is awesome. It tastes like a mix of strawberry and pineapple and coconut and kiwi. Sort of. It is really very good. It is native to the tropical parts of South America but is grown in tropical areas around the world and has different names everywhere. Apparently in English is is called "soursop", which is a horrible name for something so amazing.

Guanabana for sale from a vendor