One of the endless reasons why so many of us love Costa Rica is its accessibility to healthy living. The national parks of lush rainforests, secret cascading waterfalls, the sunshine encouraging us to get up and get outside, and the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables make it so easy to nurture ourselves from the inside out.
Highway stops along the road with cold pipas, trunks, and stands of fresh fruit, or just in our backyards the country’s tropical fruits grow. One doesn’t need to go far to delight in these delicious pleasures.
The frutería y verdulería shops invite you in with all their vibrant colors rivaling that of a painter’s palette. These are just a few of the endless tropical fruits Costa Rica graces us with and hopefully helps you expand your fruit palate outside of the well-known papayas, bananas, pineapples and watermelons that we already have come to know and love.
1. Red Mombin/Jocote
These little balls of goodness growing on the trees of Costa Rica are a favorite for many. Whether you pick them yourself from the yard or find them at the market be sure to fill your bag up because once your bag is spotted there will be many hands reaching in to share.
Jocotes can deliver different types of flavors depending on when you eat them during their ripening stage from green to their reddish hue. One doesn’t taste better than the other since jocotes are desireable at any time. When they are tart and make your mouth pucker a little salt is added to balance out the flavor or during their riper sweeter stage, they are perfect as is.
2. Rambutan/Mamon Chino
Rambutans have a playful and quirky appearance making them a fun fruit to try and snack on. Perhaps appearing a bit intimidating to those that aren’t familiar with the rambutans they can look a little confusing.
However, the soft spiked red balls are easy to break open with your nails or mouth, and once peeling the outer layer a sweet gelatinous interior is revealed. They are inexpensive so ensure you get enough to go around because they won’t last too long in your home.
3. Costa Rican Guava/Cas
One of the best ways to try cas is to stop in one of the sodas and have a fresh glass of its juice. It’s the most traditional way many consume the green little fruit as well as an addition to smoothies.
It boasts a bit of a guava flavor with a smooth yet tart taste and is abundant in antioxidants and vitamin C. With its generous supply of vitamins, it is a powerful drink to have when your immune system is feeling a bit low or simply to cool off from a hot Costa Rican day.
One of Costa Rica’s best-loved tropical fruits is the vibrantly colored mango. Just the thought of having a mango brings a sense of pleasure with its sweet and velvety flavor plucked right from the tree.
Served as a rich juice, a creamy smoothie, or in your tropical fruit salad, mangos always bring a bit of joy to your day. Don’t forget to try them when they are green, they deliver a completely different flavor profile. You can slice them up in a salad, sprinkle some salt onto them, squeeze a bit of lime and season with tajin, or just eat them just as is for a crunchy delight.
Costa Rica’s avocados are robust and plump not what many are used to seeing in our grocery stores back home. But once you try one, you might not go back to the other.
Cutting into one displays a brilliant shade of green and the taste is just as spectacular with its creamy and smooth texture.
6. Sour Sop/Guanabana
Big enough to savor for days or share with others the sour sop is a large and heavy fruit if left to grow on its own until its weight often pulls it from the tree.
The prickly green exterior is cut open and gifts us a creamy and delicious white interior that can be pulled apart with your hands for a messy and fun sweet treat.
Guanabana juice is another popular beverage made in homes and sodas in Costa Rica. It is a quick and easy drink to blend up with water and simply add a bit of sugar or combine it into your healthy smoothie.
Green or ripe, plantains can be savored throughout their various stages and are one of the staples in Costa Rica’s kitchens.
Green plantains are mashed and fried to make the country’s delicious patacones or boiled up and added to many dishes such as frijoles and of course, part of the mouth-watering layered vigoron dish.
Starting right with breakfast plátanos maduros are fried up and served alongside the infamous gallo pinto with some cheese or natilla, it is one of the go-to ways to start the day.
The passion fruit surprises you with what lies inside as you cut through its skin and outer shell, it’s actually filled with edible seeds surrounded by a jelly-like pulp consistency. Scoop them out and enjoy this nutritious treat or sprinkle with a bit of sugar to help with the taste.
Used often in desserts, made into ice cream and jams, and served up as a tropical juice you will find maracuya throughout Costa Rica.
This stunning colorful fruit may often get passed over as many may not be too sure what to do with it. The dragon fruit is a gift that you never tire of opening to see the striking beauty inside.
The dragon fruit mixes well with almost every fruit as the flavor isn’t overwhelming and is a perfect accompaniment in fruit salads. Peeling out easily it can be added to smoothies and provides a bounty of health benefits.
A day at one of Costa Rica’s paradise beaches isn’t complete without having one of their idyllic coconuts cut open for you with the hits of the machete. Sipping on the “coconut water” is refreshing and satisfying after a day in the sun’s rays and don’t forget to eat the tasty white meat inside, it’s a drink and meal all in one!
Costa Rica endows us with so many paradisical treasures and delights. The country’s natural elements are a recipe for feeling good, all you need to do is simply look up and I’m sure you will see one of Costa Rica’s tropical fun fruits hanging right overhead.