Seven Strange Fruits: Buddha's Hand, the Notorious Durian and Other Exotic Produce

Buddha's Hand, an Asian citrus
Buddha's Hand, an Asian citrus | Source

A Video Recipe for Buddha's Hand Preserve

From the elegant Buddha's hand to the repelling durian, enjoy these photos and videos of seven unusual fruits. Each strange fruit is especially delicious, funny-smelling or aesthetically appealing. Check out the videos to learn how bad a durian smells and how to prepare exotic fruit desserts and salads.

1. Buddha's Hand

Buddha's hand originated along the border of India and China. It grows on a thorny tree. Imagine each "finger" as a small banana -- except when you peel the skin, you get a sweet citrus wedge.

Buddha's hand is sweeter than other citrus fruits and is therefore popular in candies and salads. It's also a traditional offering given in Buddhist temples and is used in syrups to relieve respiratory discomfort. In China and Japan the fragrant fruit is commonly used to perfume the air and attract good luck.

In the video shown to the right, the chef combines Buddha's hand with local honey, cloves and other ingredients to create preserves. She recommends serving the preserves on top of warmed strawberries or pears. She also combines the Buddha's hand preserves with hot water to make a remedy for colds. Finally, she ends the video with a recipe for salad sweetened with Buddha's hand dressing.

Cherimoya, the fruit you can eat like ice-cream
Cherimoya, the fruit you can eat like ice-cream
Durian, a fruit that tastes better than it smells
Durian, a fruit that tastes better than it smells

2. Cherimoya

I learned about the cherimoya or ice-cream fruit while living in the Andes. The name is derived from the Quechua word chirimuya, which means "cold seeds." Cherimoyas originated in chilly high-altitude areas but are now cultivated throughout South America.

A cherimoya is about the size of a grapefruit and is best eaten when somewhat soft like an avocado. This sweet fruit has a creamy white flesh that you can eat with a spoon. It's also known as custard apple.

3. Durian

Durian is regarded as “the king of fruits" in Southeast Asia because of its large size and intimidating thorny husk.The name comes from the Malay word for "thorn," duri. Durians typically weigh between two and seven pounds. They grow up to a foot long and six inches in diameter. The inside tastes sweet and is reminiscent of a banana-almond custard. Unlike a cherimoya though, a durian is usually cut into slices.

This fruit tastes much better than it smells. Durians are pollinated by bats and therefore have an unusual odor. Some people describe the durian's smell as pleasant and almond-like but most liken it to turpentine, sweaty socks or worse. In the video below, a man somewhat scientifically compares the smelliness of a durian with a dirty gym shoe covered in dog poo.

How Smelly is the Durian?

Kiwano, one of the oldest melon species
Kiwano, one of the oldest melon species

A Video About Kiwano

4. Kiwano

The kiwano or horned melon is native to the Kalahari Desert. The fruit has long been a popular snack in Zimbabwe, where people consume the entire fruit including skin, seeds and pulp. Now it's also grown in Australia, California, Chile and New Zealand.

Depending on when it's harvested, the kiwano tastes like a cucumber-kiwi hybrid or similar to a banana. The flavor can be enhanced with salt or sugar. People also use the melon as decoration.

Kiwanos are rich in Vitamin C and fiber.

A pitaya or dragon fruit
A pitaya or dragon fruit

5. Pitaya

Pitaya refers to the fruit of several cactus species in Asia. It's also known as dragon fruit and strawberry pear. The fruit is eaten raw and is sour and juicy, which makes it a favorite thirst-quencher of hikers.

The pitaya's skin ranges from yellow to pinkish red. The flesh is gelatinous, white and peppered with black seeds.

Monstera deliciosa, the delicious monster fruit that can kill you if eaten at the wrong time
Monstera deliciosa, the delicious monster fruit that can kill you if eaten at the wrong time | Source

6. Monstereo

The monstereo has many nicknames: monstera deliciosa, monster fruit, fruit salad plant, Swiss cheese plant, window plant and more.The older leaves of the monstereo plant have lovely lacy windows. The fruit measures about a foot long and looks like a big green ear of corn.

When you eat this fruit, you feel a tingly sensation in your mouth. That's from calcium crystals having a party. It's important to only eat monster fruit when it's mature so you don't irritate your throat or suffer more serious complications such as rashes and death. (The death reaction is rare.)

The flesh is juicy and tastes like banana-pineapple. It's popular just as a tasty fruit but is also used as an arthritis remedy.

Tamarillos are available in red, purple and yellow varieties.
Tamarillos are available in red, purple and yellow varieties. | Source

7. Tamarillo

The tamarillo or tree tomato is enjoyed raw and in sweet dessert sauces. Try serving it warm on top of ice-cream. The tamarillo tastes like a combination between a passion fruit and a Roma tomato.

Tamarillos originated in the Andes but are now grown in Australia, China, New Zealand, South Africa and the US. The fruit is rich in iron, Vitamin C and magnesium.

You can learn lots more about tamarillos in this YouTube video.

Video of Tamarillo Trees & Tamarillo Ice-Cream

Exotic Fruits on Amazon

More by this Author


Comments 16 comments

chrisanders profile image

chrisanders 4 years ago from Berlin

Awesome writeup on these strange yet incredible fruits. The Buddha's Hand looks like a cross between jalapenos and bananas that are joined at the stem.I have tasted Pitaya was quite tasty and Durian is delicious only when eaten ripe.


livelonger profile image

livelonger 4 years ago from San Francisco

This is great! I've only eaten 2 of these (dragonfruit/pitaya and durian) and only heard of one additional one (cherimoya). I think either kiwano or Buddha's Hand are the most intriguing...well, actually monstereo is pretty fearsome, too.

The Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat is coming up, and we're supposed to eat a fruit that we've never had before as part of it, so this is timely, too!


Dani Katarina profile image

Dani Katarina 4 years ago from California

Love Cherimoya! Growing up in Chile, South America..they had ice cream in that flavor :) mmmmm so good! Thanks for sharing!


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon

Thanks for the great info. I think I probably won't ever be brave enough to try the Durian fruit, but I've been curious about how to tell when a Cherimoya is ripe. Now you've given me even more options.


cr00059n 4 years ago

India and Indonesia have a lot of Buddhist followers. Last time I vacationed in India, every other day I would have Durian and Cherimoya. Cherimoya is a really great fruit that has an exceptional taste and flavor. Thanks for sharing. Nicely written article about 7 fruits. Cool.


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana

I just saw Buddha's Hand for the first time ever this winter in our co-op. So cool looking. I was tempted to buy and try but didn't. These rest of these are new to me - thanks for sharing!


Adrian Lavelle profile image

Adrian Lavelle 4 years ago from Galway, Ireland

cool hub!!


SantaCruz profile image

SantaCruz 4 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA Author

Wow, I've never gotten so many comments this quickly. It's good to see interest in this topic! I shall write similar hubs... Thx & remember to check your farmers' market :-).


Hilda Mae 4 years ago

Fun topic! I live in the Midwest, the only fruit that I have seen in our grocery stores or Public Market is the Tamarillo. The Pitaya looks like a beautiful flower! Thanks for the article, I'll look for these fruits when visiting other cities.


Diana Mendes profile image

Diana Mendes 4 years ago

Great Hub. Thanks for the information.


pinto2011 profile image

pinto2011 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

Really after a long time, I got something fresh in hubpages. Really nice to realize that there are writers who uplift the expectations and keep the standard high in place. Will always look forward to your articles. Please go through mine few health hubs also.


SantaCruz profile image

SantaCruz 4 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA Author

Pinto, your comment made my morning. Thanks for taking the time to write :).


NP.QUEEN profile image

NP.QUEEN 4 years ago from Dubai

Hi Santa,

Nice description about fruits. Really i liked it. Especially buddha's hand....wonderful..i enjoyed. I like to become a fan of you. Thank you for sharing.


SantaCruz profile image

SantaCruz 4 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA Author

Thank you, Queen! I enjoyed researching all the strange & wonderful fruits. Now I'm looking forward to the summertime farmer's market :-).


YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 3 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

Awesome fruits . . . God amazes me with his masterpieces . . . and the durian . . . lol . . . he has a sense of humor as well: ) Your hub is well written and thorough. Thanks for sharing.


NotAnother profile image

NotAnother 3 years ago from Ohio, United States

I'm so glad you talked about so many interesting fruits. Most I hadn't ever heard of. I'll have to go on a search for these cool fruits next time I go shopping!

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