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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Costa Rica Fruits: 5 Curious Ones to Try

Many of us have our favorite fruits that we tend to go to daily in our routine. We may come across them in the market, have a second look at the odd shape fruits and then keep going as we aren’t too sure what they are or even what to do with them. What you don’t realize is that you may be missing out on some of the most flavourful and interesting tropical fruits that the country has.

Spend some time getting to know the unique and curious fruits at your local fruit and vegetable stops, and try something new, more often than not they can be relatively inexpensive. These are just a few of the many mysterious-looking fruits you can find throughout Costa Rica which may surprisingly become one of your favorites!

1. Guanabana – Sour Sop

This hard exterior green spiky fruit hangs from the tree and when it falls you will most definitely hear it. The guanabana (sour sop) can grow to some very large sizes. I remember having one that was comparable to the size of my head, they can reach very impressive sizes that often they are sold in stores already pre-cut.

Once you are able to cut it open, the guanabana has a fleshy white consistency with big black seeds. It can take a moment to adjust to the texture but once you do you will find yourself reaching for more. It can be messy to eat since it’s best to pull apart with your hands, however, it is creamy and delicious. Just don’t forget to spit out the seeds!

One of the favorite juices in Costa Rica is the guanabana fruit blended up into a fresh refreshing juice or added into smoothies.

2. Pitahaya- Dragon Fruit

Pitahaya, the dragon fruit, is one fruit that is incredibly beautiful on the outside you almost don’t want to cut it open. The fruit’s vibrant colors of pinkish-red stand out with its green flame-like scales in one of nature’s most fantastical creations. When you see it, it really does look out of this world.

Rich in fiber and anti-oxidants it is easy to eat simply cutting in half or into quarters and it smoothly pops right out or scoop it out with a spoon. The inside flesh is sweet and you can eat the seeds which add to the flavor, disposing of the artistic peel.

If you have the chance to try one, don’t pass the opportunity up, you won’t regret it. The dragon fruit is a great treat on its own since it is a star in its own right, blended up in smoothies or mixed with other fresh fruit in a salad.

3. Rambutan – Mamon Chino

Apples and mamón chino.
Ilana Long/The Tico Times

The little rambutans are often piled high up in the wooden stands where you can fill up your bag for a quite inexpensive price tag. When the season arrives, you will clearly know because you will see them being sold everywhere, from the side of the road to the back of trucks and cars.

When you first see and lay eyes on them you might think they are some sort of children’s or pet toy with soft green spikes that resemble hairs covering the fruit’s small red circular shape. It is definitely one of the more peculiar and interesting looking fruits, however, the taste is far different than its appearance.

What you uncover inside after you use your teeth to peel it open or your fingernails is a fleshy, soft, white almost clear substance that is sweet and most definitely addictive. Ensure you fill up your bag if you plan on sharing as you will find yourself reaching back in for more. They are a fun treat to eat as you sit back and relax with a little bag of goodness in your lap.

4. Noni – Indian Mulberry

This interesting white fruit comes with a long list of health benefits both as a treatment and in preventive measures when researching its advantages and speaking with people. But what comes with all the amazing medicinal properties is the sacrifice one must make to consume it. Referred to as the vomit fruit from its most curious and distinct odor, it isn’t consumed for the sheer pleasure and delight of it.

After the surprise of the odor settles, it isn’t quite as intoxicating as your first encounter and some can acquire a taste for it. The noni fruit is added into smoothies and juices most often with other fruits to help mask the taste while still allowing you to reap the rewards of this astonishing fruit.

5. Marañon – Cashew Fruit

Tropical foods: Cashew fruit and seed
(Via Wikimedia Commons)

Many of us don’t realize that the cashew nut actually grows from what resembles an apple as it hangs below the fruit and in fact is a seed. In its dangling state below, the shell surrounding the cashew seed is toxic and therefore is dried and roasted before eating to ensure it is no longer poisonous.

The cashew fruit though is ready to go in its raw and natural state.  The fruit’s yellowish-orange hue turns to a reddish color adorning the tree in its festive striking colors. The outside of the fruit can make some pucker with its bitter exterior, however, the skin is thin and the flesh that remains inside is juicy and delivers a sweet taste. Many enjoy slicing the soft fruit up and eating it as is or sprinkling it with a little salt.

Blending the fruit up as a juice or adding some sugar into the mix creates a sweet and foamy fresh juice which is a delightful treat. Overindulging in the juice though can leave you with a bit of a chalky or cotton-like sensation in your mouth.

Final Thoughts

So, the next time you are wandering around the local feria or driving by and see a sign for frutas y verduras pull over and make a stop.  Pick up something that piques your curiosity and you may find yourself discovering yet another reason why you love Costa Rica.

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