Ten of the World's Most Exotic Fruits - How many have you seen or tasted?
Do you like fruits?
I love fruits of all kinds. Do you? Besides apples and oranges, I like tropical fruits and many of them are considered "exotic" by most people. While I have had many exotic fruits, there are some that I haven't even heard of. If you are a fan of fruits, you will like this hub. Check the list to see how many have you eaten. Enjoy!
Want some fire? Then Dragon Fruit is for you!
1. Dragon Fruit or Pitaya
Have you seen a dragon fruit or pitaya? Dragon fruit is a more common name. In Chinese, it's called 火龍果 (The direct translation of these Chinese characters is "fire dragon fruit). I have seen these firery fruits many years ago. Many vendors sell them in NYC's Chinatown. However, it's only recently that I have the courage to try them. The flesh of the dragon fruit very much resemble that of a kiwi. It tastes a bit like kiwi too - to me.
I have only seen the red skinned (with white flesh) dragon fruits. After some research, I learned that there are two other types: 1. Costa Rica pitaya - which has red skin and red flesh; 2.) Yellow pitaya - which has yellow skin and white flesh. Pitayas or dragon fruits are rich in fiber and minerals. The red skinned dragon fruits contain a good amount of calcium.
An interesting fact is that pitayas flower at nighttime! Like all cacti, they don't require much water. So, how do you eat a dragon fruit? Well, you eat it pretty much like a kiwi - cut the fruit in half, scoop out the inner flesh and enjoy! Dragon fruits have tons of seeds - if you have the patience, you might try to see if you can get a count of them.
Whenever I walk by a street vendor selling fruits, I couldn't resist looking at the mangosteens that were for sale. I haven't conquered my inner fear to give this exotic fruit a try. Do you know that fresh mangosteens once cost as high as $45 per pound in NYC specialty stores? (Source: Wikipedia.org) This was when mangosteen was first introduced in the U.S. back in 2007. Nowadays, these fruits become more and more common so their prices have also dropped significantly. Though, at $8 per pound, it's still quite a luxury.
Akee - Amazing to look atClick thumbnail to view full-size
What is Akee? It's another exotic fruit that is related to the lychee and longan (which are among my favorite fruits). If you have eaten lychee and longan, you know what I'm talking about. Do you know that akee is the national fruit of Jamaica and that akee and saltfish is their national dish?
A Tree of Stars
4. Star Fruit
I love star fruits or "carmbolas". Umm...I prefer to call them star fruits. You don't need a telescope to look at a star anymore! This amazing fruit (when sliced crosswisely) resembles a star, hence it's name. It's not only appealing to the naked eye, star fruit is also rich in antioxidants and vitamin C and low in sugar, sodium, and acid. While there are many benefits, there are also risks involved in consuming this exotic fruit. Star fruits contain oxalic acid, which can be harmful to individuals suffering from kidney failures, kidney stones, or those under kidney dialysis treatment.
Brings back good memories
I remember when I was a kid, there was a star fuit tree in our village. The tree was so tall and bears star fruits too - just tiny ones though. I'm not sure whether they were not ripened or simply because the tree was so old in age. Anyway, I still ate them...adding salt to the fruit. It tasted a bit tart, it was fun to shoot them off the tree - almost like catching a star from the sky. You know, it's one of those crazying things you did as a kid.
Star fruits can be dried and have a delicious taste, just like dried cranberries. Next time you go to Shoprite, look for star fruits - they are available in many Asian groceries and local supermarkets.
Stars in Daylight?
Sure, we have tried pomegranate juice....
Another amazing fruit - Pomegranate. It's a very pretty fruit. The taste of pomegranate is said to be in between a lemon and grapefruit. I like to chew each seed individually. The fruit reminds me much of a guava.
Benefits of pomegranate juice include: a rich source of vitamin C, fiber (contained in the seeds), and might be effective in reducing heart risk factors. Next time you go food shopping, add pomegranate to your list of fruits.
Rambutan - Have you seen one yet?
6. Rambutan - One Amazing Fruit
What exactly is a rambutan? The name came from the Indonesian word, rambutan, which means hairy caused by the "hair or spikes" that cover this fruit. To many of us, this is an extremely exotic fruit, but to the Indonesians, Filipinos, and Malaysians, this fruit is consumed just like apples and oranges because rambutans are native to them.
I have seen rambutans in Chinatown. The fruits kind of look cute, with the spiky hairs surrounding them. They are related to lychee and longan. However, I have not tried tasting a rambutan. Have you?
Kiwano is also called horned melon, African horned melon, and English tomato. It has a nickname as well - in the southeastern United States, it is called "blowfish fruit". Kiwano is an oval shaped melon with horn-like spikes. Native to Africa, kiwanos are now grown in California, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand.
8. Buddha's Hand
Buddha's Hand belong to the citrus family. The fruit is very fragrant and used in making perfume. In Western cooking, the peel from the fruit is used for its zest. "Bushukan" is its Japanese name. When in closed hand form, the fruit resembles a Buddha's hand in prayer. What an interesting fruit!
9. Longan or "Dragon Eye"
If you happen to be shopping in Chinatown lately, you will find a lot of longans. Longans mean "dragon eyes" because when the fruit is peeled, it resembles an "eye." They are in season now. At their high prices, longans cost as much as $8-9 per pound. The other day, I just saw the price tag: "6 LBS for $10" - wow, an unbeatable price! If you like longans, you should enjoy them now, as they are so juicy and sweet.
You can find longan fruits in syrup (canned) or dried. Dried longans are used in Chinese cuisine as a main ingredient in desserts or soups. If you have a backyard, you can grow your own longan tree. Just drop a seed or two in the ground and watch for their growth.
What does this fruit look like to you? - an eyeball?
Fresh lychees are very delicious. They are very nutritious as well. I am amazed at the content of vitamin C in lychee. To boost up your immune system, consider eating lychee like you would oranges. You get 72 grams of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit. What a natural way to meet our vitamin C requirement! Lychees are now readily available in many Asian food markets as well as supermarkets. When you see lychee, you will also see longans because both of them are harvested around the same time, almost as if they're twins.