While I love shopping my local farmers market year round, there is something about summer that is synonymous with fresh fruit. From watermelon to pineapple to cherries and beyond, summer fruit is a delicious and healthy indulgence that I just can’t get enough of. In the wintertime I’m always tempted to reach for a baked good or a square of chocolate after a meal. But the incredible selection of fresh fruit readily available in the summer is really all I need to satisfy my sweet tooth this time of year.
But in case you want to branch out and try something a little different than the standard fruity fare, today I am sharing a list of 10 exotic fruits to try. I’ve tried several of these while traveling abroad for The Little Market, and it has been quite the treat. While you may not be able to find all of these at your neighborhood farmers market, trust me when I say they are worth seeking out. Many of them can be found at ethnic markets if they aren’t available at your city’s central farmers market stalls or supermarket aisles. They’re delicious on their own or would also make for quite the artisanal cocktail or Pinterest-worthy smoothie bowl. Check out my list below…
Fun fact: jackfruit is the largest fruit that grows on a tree, weighing as much as 80 lbs! Jackfruit has a sweet but subtle taste and a meaty texture. It can be used to make custard, cake, or even jackfruit chips. Because of its subtle sweetness, it is also used in savory dishes like curries or tacos.
2. Prickly Pear
Prickly pear is the fruit of the nopales cactus variety, which is native to California, the Southwest, Mexico, and the Mediterranean. The fruit is very sweet, delicious, and has a beautiful neon pink hue. The juice of the prickly pear fruit is often used to make jam, candy, or in cocktails. Just be careful: if you are going to be picking and preparing one yourself, you will need to wear work gloves and remove all the tiny thorns covering the fruit!
Cherimoya has a creamy custard-like texture. The taste is said to be a blend of banana, pineapple, papaya, peach, and strawberry. The fruit can be chilled and eaten with a spoon for an ice cream-like treat.
Mangosteens have a sweet, tangy, citrusy and peachy taste. It is easier to find canned or frozen mangosteen here in the States, but fresh mangosteen is not very common.
5. Dragon Fruit aka Pitaya
Dragon fruit (or pitaya) is one of the prettiest tropical fruits you will find. It has a vibrant pink skin and the flesh is white with little black seeds, similar in texture to a kiwi. Dragon fruit is known to be a super fruit with many nutritional benefits, including more active antioxidants than acai.
Lychee, which is most popular in China and Southeast Asia, has a floral smell and a fragrant, sweet flavor. They are somewhat similar to grapes in taste and texture. Lychees also contain an impressive array of vitamins, fiber and antioxidants.
7. Passion Fruit
Chances are you’ve had a passion fruit flavored treat at some point, but if you haven’t had fresh passion fruit, you are missing out. Passion fruit is either yellow or dark purple on the outside, with a soft, juicy interior filled with little seeds. My favorite way to eat fresh passion fruit is to scoop out the inside and use it as a topping for vanilla ice cream.
Durian is common fare in Southeast Asia and can be found in Asian markets in the U.S. It has a pungent smell that is not the most appetizing. But if you can get past the aroma, it has a custardy, almond-like taste that many people enjoy.
Cucamelons might win the award for the cutest fruit… they look just like miniature watermelons! They are about the size of a grape and are actually a type of cucumber with a citrusy taste. They make for an especially adorable cocktail garnish.
Loquats are an exotic fruit that is tangy and slightly sweet. They look similar in size and shape to kumquats but are entirely different fruits. The loquat plant is a member of the rose family and is related to the apple, pear and peach; whereas kumquats are a citrus fruit.
How many of these exotic fruits had you already heard of?
Let me know if you have any other favorite exotic fruits that I should add to my grocery list!
P.S. Thanks to Alexzandra Fajardo for the beautiful illustrations!