Apart from the common fruits like apples and oranges, there are a lot of other exotic fruits out there that can open up a whole new world for you, especially if you love fruits. Many of these weird-looking fruits bring an exciting combination of flavors and are also packed with vitamins and nutrients. Hopefully some of these unknown fruits will have a big commercial potential in the future.
Hailed as “the king of fruits” in Southeast Asia, the thorny fruit has the combination of hellish smell and heavenly taste. Its pulp emits an odor likened to a rotten meat or smelly socks but the flavor is compared to a rich and delicious custard.
The citrus fruits we know are usuall round or oval — orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit — but there are actually over 100 varieties of citrus, many of which we obviously aren’t aware about. One of them is the Australian finger lime, which has a more elongated shape. Each of the segments contains juice vesicles which pop a freshly tangy taste in your mouth.
As said before, there are over 100 varieties of citrus fruits. Some of the unfamiliar varieties have more interesting shapes and sizes, like this another citrus fruit called Buddha’s hand. The fruit is not round, oval or even elongated, but is instead consisted of finger-like segments. It also has a thick peel, with no acidic flesh inside. Buddha’s hand is mainly eaten raw or used as a flavoring or zest.
Do you like chocolate? Then you might want to try this fruit, the black sapote, also known as the “chocolate pudding fruit.” Native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, the fruit is green when raw but shrivels and turns into dark brown when ripe. The ripened fruit has the flavor and texture likened to a chocolate pudding, so it is often eaten raw and used as substitute for chocolate.
Also known as “salak,” the snake fruit derives its name from its scaly, reddish-brown skin. The fruit has a sweet and acidic taste like a pineapple’s but a crunchy texture like an apple’s. It is native to the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra.
It’s not called as such because it tastes like salmon, nor it has a fishy texture. But it does look a bit like the salmon roe. In fact, it has been traditionally eaten with salmon or salmon roe. Native to North America and the only non-tropical fruit in this gallery, these raspberry-like fruits belong to the rose family. They are usually found in the coastal forests and form dense thickets.
The miracle fruit is a strange berry native to West Africa. What makes the fruit a “miracle” is a glycoprotein called miraculin, a sugar substitute found in ample quantities in the berry. Miraculin itself is only mildly sweet when eaten, but when it binds to the tongue’s taste buds, it causes naturally sour and bitter foods to taste sweet. For instance, a sour lemon juice turns into a cloyingly sweet syrup due to the effect brought about by chewing a miracle fruit. This effects lasts from 30 minutes to an hour.
Also called “dragon fruit,” pitaya is the fruit of a cactus plant. Believed to have originated in Mexico, the fruit is also found throughout Asia, North America and South America. There are several varieties of pitaya from the taste (sour and sweet), and the color of the pulp (white and pink).
The horned melon resembles a blowfish because of its oval shape and horn-like spines. It is related to the cucumber and melon. It is also called jelly melon for its green, jelly-like flesh whose flavor has been compared to a combination of cucumber, banana, zucchini or tomato. The thick skin is also edible and is a rich source of fiber and vitamin C.
Belonging to the coffee family, the noni goes by several other names such as great morinda, Indian mulberry, mengkudu, cheese fruit, custard apple, and beach mulberry. The noni usually thrives in volcanic and sandy soils. It is a good source of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, iron, potassium, calcium, vitamin A and also phytochemicals.
Another strange-looking fruit is the ackee, which is related to the lychee and longan fruit. When raw, the fruit resembles a green pear. As the ackee ripens, it turns into bright red to yellow-orange and gradually splits itself open. It is at this stage where you can see its three, big black shiny seeds surrounded by yellow, brain-shaped, fleshy arils which are the edible part of the fruit.
Native to West Africa, the fruit was then introduced to Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean region. Since then the ackee has become a major part of the Caribbean cuisine.
Caution, though: the ackee contains toxins, and if improperly eaten it will make you really sick. The same effect goes when eating an unripe ackee. In fact, the fruit can cause what is known as Jamaican vomiting sickness which is characterized by abdominal pains, dehydration, vomiting and seizures. Coma and death may also follow if not given prompt medical attention.
Physalis is a plant belonging to the Solanaceae family, which also includes the poisonous nightshade as well as tomato, potato and eggplant. The physalis’ unique feature is its small, orange fruit which is encased in a lantern-shaped papery husk. The fruit itself resembles a cherry tomato. Since the physalis also has a mild, refreshing acidity of a tomato, it can be incorporated in many dishes where tomato is normally used. Yes, you can make a physalis pasta, a physalis pizza and a garden-fresh salad with physalis.
This odd-looking fruit comes from a plant whose scientific name is Monstera deliciosa. The plant itself is commonly used as an interior foliage plant for homes and many public buildings. It goes by many other names such as the Swiss cheese plant, fruit salad plant, ceriman, monster fruit, splitleaf philondendron, and Mexican breadfruit, among others.
The plant’s edible fruit is elongated and looks more like a green ear of corn than a normal fruit. When its scaly interiors are carefully removed, it exposes a flesh which resembles a pineapple. The fruity flavor of the flesh tastes like a combination of pineapple, jackfruit, mango and banana.
Another exciting fruit that should be brought to the mainstream market is the cupuaçu, native throughout the Amazon basin. The odor of the fruit’s white pulp has a heady combination of chocolate and pineapple, while the juice tastes like a pear with hints of banana. It is popularly used in desserts, sweets and juices.
The cupuaçu also contains several types of phytochemicals as well as theobromine, caffeine (although significantly lower than caffeine in coffee beans), and theophylline. The “butter” derived from the white flesh contains trigylcerides, or simply fatty acids. The soft solidity of the cupuaçu butter has many uses from confectionery to lotions.
This teardrop-shaped citrus fruit really lives up to its name — its rind is thick and hideously lumpy (think of cellulite in the legs, or something like that). However, don’t be fooled by its outer appearance. When peeled, segmented and eaten, the ugli fruit has an interesting combination of lemon, tangerine, and grapefruit. Native to Jamaica, the ugli fruit is a hybrid of tangerine, pomelo and grapefruit (which is also known as tangelo).