Of course everyone is familiar with apples, oranges and strawberries, but what about those ethnic fruits that are native to each country? The fruits that appear in this list are not going to be at your local grocery store. In fact, you may not even be able to recognize them. Have you ever even heard of lychee, pomelo, persimmon or durian? Well, here are some exotic fruits, most of them that are only seen in a specific country.
1. Synsepalum dulcificum, a.k.a. Miracle Fruit
Fruits are nutritious and are often enjoyed on their own so that we can savor their pleasant taste, however the “miracle fruit” or “miracle berry” is something out of the ordinary. The fruit is consumed not for its taste or health benefits, but rather to savor another food. The synsepalum dulcificum or miracle berry is an evergreen shrub native to West Africa, and has a mildly sweet tang with a firm pulp surrounding a bitter seed.
However, the fruit contains taste-altering properties that modify the food we are currently eating. For instance, if you consume the miracle berry and then eat something sour, it will taste sweet. The effect can last for as long as two hours and is utilized by many around the world to help with dieting. (source)
2. Kiwano, a.k.a. Horned Melon or African Cucumber
Kiwano melon is an exotic fruit that looks like something out of outer space. Although unheard of, the fruit is considered a popular snack in Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and some parts of the U.S. Formally known as cucumis metuliferus, when ripe, the thick outer skin of a kiwano melon is bright orange and is covered with horns. Inside, there’s a gelatinous lime-green or yellow substance that contains edible seeds.
It’s highly nutritious and offers several potent antioxidants that help protect against cellular damage. The fruit also helps with production of red blood cells and controlling body sugar. Kiwano melons are also excellent in exotic drinks. (source)
3. Durio zibethinus a.k.a. Durian
Nicknamed “the king of fruits”, Durian is extremely popular in Southeast Asia. The fruit is high in nutrients but has a smell that you will never forget in your life. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, it smells like “turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock”. The strong smell is not enough to keep the locals away though, since they favor the custard-like flesh with large seeds. It mainly grows in tropical regions around the world, especially in the Southeast Asian countries of Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Those who have tried the fruit describe its taste as eating cheese, almonds, garlic and caramel, all at once. Locals love the fruit and often enjoy it in juice form or add it to their soups, candy, ice cream or other desserts. According to HealthLine, the fruit is also used in traditional medicine and has some medicinal properties, which is still being studied. (source)
4. Mangosteen a.k.a. Purple Mangosteen
Originating in Southeast Asian countries, the Mangosteen is a popular super fruit. The fruit that tastes like a mix between the orange and peach only flourishes in tropical climates that are very humid, and the seeds can take anywhere from 8 to 10 years to fully mature. Also known as the “queen of tropical fruit”, the Mangosteen produces dark-purple or red-purple fruit with soft, thick rind on the surface. Inside, there are 4 to 8 juicy, triangular segments that are white-colored. Each segment contains 1 to 4 seed and they are not edible, just like the outer shell.
The fruit is said to have many health benefits and locals believe that it helps in fighting acne, stomach disorders, viral infections and more. It is rich is minerals and vitamins, which makes it suitable for weight loss programs. (source)
5. Longan a.k.a. Dragons Eye
Longan, also known as “dragons eye” are soft and smaller than lychee fruits. Scientifically known as Dimocarpus longan, the fruit originated in China and later spread across the globe. Today, it is widely cultivated in Thailand, India and other Asian countries. Mostly available during the summer seasons, the fruit can be consumed either raw or as dried fruits. It is rich in minerals like iron, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium, as well as Vitamin B and other anti-oxidants.
The sweet fruit is also believed to have health benefits such as working as a natural anti-depressant. They are also known to lower irritability, reduce fatigue and help with sleeping disorders. (source)
6. Ice Apple a.k.a. Nungu
The ice apple is extremely popular in India, where it is believed to have originally originated. Today, it is grown in Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, regions of tropical Africa, as well as in Hawaii and Florida. Although they are called ice apples, they have different names across different areas of India, like in Tamil Nadu, where it’s known as nungu. It’s also known as palm fruit.
The ice apple is very dark purple in color when ripe. The size of the fruit makes it slightly resemble an eggplant, although its texture is similar to that of a coconut. Prime season for these fruits is between May and August, which is also when they’re most readily available from street vendors. An ice apple’s taste is said to be sweet, but it sometimes has a bitter aftertaste. The fruit contains casings full of mildly sweet liquid. It’s also rich in B vitamins, calcium, and iron. It’s sometimes used to treat digestive problems. (source)
7. Artocarpus heterophyllus a.k.a. Jackfruit
The Jackfruit is the largest tree-born fruit in the world and can reach up to 80 lbs in weight. Also known as “chacka” in the southwest of India, the fruit is native to the Indian subcontinent. The Jacktree is closely related to figs and mulberries, and these trees produce large, oblong fruits that are also known as Jackfruit. These are unique fruits, growing up to 80 lbs. in weight, and are enjoyed by tropical and Indian cultures.
Each Jackfruit contains hundreds of individual flowers and the Jackfruit is technically the “petals” of these combined fruits, commonly called “bulbs”. The petals taste sweet and have a pleasant aroma, which is why it is favored by millions all across India. According to several people who have tried it, it tastes like a cross between mangoes, bananas, and pineapples. (source)
8. Pineberry a.k.a. Paynberri
Although they sound and look similar to strawberries, Pineberries are very different from them. They appeared in the mid 18th century in Europe and were achieved by crossing several species of wild strawberries from North and South America. Unlike strawberries, a Pineberry is smaller and has a flavor and scent that’s similar to a pineapple. They are very aromatic and as many people say the taste is reminiscent of pineapple, the texture and feel of the fruit is much like that of a strawberry. (source)
9. Manilkara zapota a.k.a. Sapodilla
Sapodilla, also known as chico fruit or zapota is a fruit native to southern Mexico, Central America, Carribean and some parts of Asia. It was introduced to the Philippines during Spanish colonization and today, it is produced in large quantities in Pakistan, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Mexico. The fruit is a large berry and the inside is a pale yellow to an earthy brown color with a grainy texture; similar to that of a well-ripened pear.
They are exceptionally sweet and have a malty flavor; and are often used as a substitute of chocolate by many. Compounds extracted from the leaves of sapodilla trees showed anti-diabetic, antioxidant and hypocholesterolemic effects in rats. Traditionally, the Sapodilla was used to treat diarrhea and pulmonary ailments. The fruit is also high in fiber content, vitamins and anti-oxidants. (source)
10. Blighia sapida a.k.a. Ackee
Native to the tropical forests of West Africa, Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica. The name “ackee” has African origins, and is derived from the word “Ankye” from the Twi language of Ghana. Since its introduction during the 18th century, it has become part of the the country’s national dish. The taste of ackee is often described to be mild, with a buttery and creamy texture. Apart from the taste, it is believed to have health benefits and aid with digestive issues, reduce blood pressure and help alleviate common illnesses.
However, the fruit is banned in the US since it contains a toxin called hypoglycin A. When consumed, this toxin causes several side effects such as vomiting, drowsiness, muscular exhaustion and can also be fatal in some cases. The toxin is mainly found in unripe ackee fruits. (source)
11. Citrus medica a.k.a. Buddha’s Hand
A Buddha’s hand is a multi-fingered citron that is unlike a lemon or orange. The juice-free fruit is completely edible and is used in salads, baked goods, preserves, pickles, infusions, and other fancy foods. Unlike lemons, Buddha’s hand’s pith is not bitter, and so can be used raw or cooked. The fruit likely originated in India about 2,000 years ago and in China, it is considered a religious offering in Buddhist temples. The fruit also acts as a symbol for happiness, longevity and good fortune, and is typically given as a New Year’s gift. (source)