HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Exotic Fruit

A discussion on the local Montreal board recently clued me in to a certain kind of mango available only at a certain time of year, that apparently is the best evah. Without this board I would have continued to eat the regular green/red mangoes (I do actually like these when they're not rock hard, the tartness is nice and I dont mind the stringiness).

Please reply with your favourite exotic fruit(s) and why. Any recommendations? I like starfruit, although I'm not sure this is exotic anymore, and I also like these yellow, hard (thin, but hard, they have skins/shells that crack) fruits filled with a slimy mix of seeds and...slime, but tasting wonderful (again, sweet but tart, lovely). Maybe they are a variety of passionfruit? Any recs for the sweet/tart flavour combo?

Any exotic fruits you don't love? I find papaya too sweet but full disclosure I have never had a fresh one.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have posted more than once on my love of Uglifruit. It's grown in Jamaica and looks like the green lovechild of a grapefruit and a troll. Or possibly a Fraggle fetus. It takes like a citrus-y peach. It's divine! And I haven't had one since I moved to the West Coast as they don't seem to sell them out here...

    I'm actually not a fan of most exotic fruits that I've tried - I don't like mango or papaya, and I don't like slimy anything, though I'm with you on starfruit. It's lovely and refreshing.

    4 Replies
    1. re: thursday

      Guava, passionfruit, cherimoya, rambutan, white sapote, the teeny sweet finger bananas

      1. re: PAO

        White sapote is way up there for me, also. The flavor can vary greatly, but at its best it tastes like the most heavenly vanilla custard.

        Other favorite "exotics" are canistel, papaya, mamey sapote, black sapote, passionfruit, sapodilla, and jackfruit (and mango and persimmon, if either is considered "exotic"). Imported starfruit I find aren't worth eating, but the very sweet startfruit I picked off a tree on the big island were wonderful. The owner considered them overripe, but they were perfect, like a more fragrant and tropical orange.

        As for a sweet/tart combo, none of these are particularly exotic for those of us in the US, but there's pomegranate, yellow nectarine or peach, kiwi, loquat, pineapple. For more "exotic" there are tree tomato, rambutan, soursop.

        1. re: purslane_fan

          Zapote Negro and guanabana (soursop) are phenomenal, two of my favorites

      2. I think you are describing passion fruit, or possibly guava. What color is the interior.

        I like a lot of exotic fruit and living in a warm climate we get a lot of them. My list would include, but not limited to:

        - guava
        - passionfruit
        - guanabana (soursop in English speaking countries)
        - Mexican papaya
        - zapote negro
        - prickly pear cactus fruit (all colors, tho' I'm partial to the fushia colored ones)
        - pithaya (dragon fruit in English speaking countries)
        - plantains
        - red bananas
        - rhombatan

        1. I tried my first dragon fruit recently. It tasted like an extremely mild pear with seeds like a kiwi. Don't think I'd buy one again for $4.

          2 Replies
          1. re: invinotheresverde

            I agree with you, so bland, like a mix between an unripe melon and a kiwi. Might be okay just for the looks in a fruit salad, but again... Disappointing.

            1. re: mokafeinomane

              So, if the first time you ate an apple, it turned out to be one of those tasteless supermarket apples, you would never buy one again? How many tasteless watermelons have you eaten in your life? There's good and bad everything depending on the source.

              A ripe dragonfruit, has a beautiful sweetness and, especially if you get the shocking pink variety (there's also white). I would have to say that someone who doesn't like kiwi wouldn
              t like dragonfruit ... which can be lots more flavorful, but again, has to be ripe.

          2. Mangosteen! The fresh kind, not the one that has been pre-frozen. Makes it awfully bitter.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Miss Needle

              As mentioned

              Sapote Blanco

              Of course the higher the % of unobtainium the sweeter the fruit-it was ever thus.

              1. re: Sam Salmon

                Hi, Sam:

                Completely agree on the "unobtanium" quotient.

                There's also the safecracker multiplier--hard to get and hard to get *at*. My first pomegranate was a revelation, and I like rambutan for the same reason.

                Apple Banana isn't half bad, either, but no safecracker effect.


            2. Sort of depends on perspective, I suppose, but here goes:

              Buddha's Head
              Dragon Fruit
              African Cucumber
              Soursop (Guanaana)
              Lamut (Sapodilla)
              Salak (Snake Fruit)
              Sugar apple (Noi-na)
              Wax apple

              4 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                Buddha's Hand? Do you make anything special with it?

                1. re: foodeye

                  It can be used for zest, for flavoring liquors or vinegar, for jams, and ornamentally. Apparently the pith is not as bitter as in a lemon, and some people find it suitable to eat slices of the fruit in salads and such.

                  Creekside Tropicals (at Hillcrest FM) grows it, but I don't think it's in season right now. Looks like it might be harvested in the fall.

                  1. re: foodeye

                    Buddha's Hand makes a great version of Limoncello

                    1. re: foodeye

                      Buddha's Hand? Do you make anything special with it?


                      Ice cream. Zest and incorporate into the milk before making the custard.

                      Faux Key Lime Pie. Same idea using the zest.

                  2. Have seen no mention of Jaboticaba, Brazilian grape tree. The fruits grow directly from the wood, not in clumps but individually. Sweet with gentle flavor. They really look cool on the tree. Another Brazilian one is cashews. The seed, the part we eat is sort of inside the beautiful fruit. The whole thing is used as floweresque display or table decorations there.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      A place in Berkeley, CA, ages ago (Siboney) served the preserved cashew fruit with white cheese and those curved soda-water biscuit-type crackers. Wow. And what a sexy color.

                    2. My faves are:

                      -Mangoes: even more the yellow ones (ataulfo ?) So much more sinfully creamy and spicier.
                      -Avocadoes: the butterier, the better; cold, hot, salty, sweet, WHATEVERRRR.
                      -Litchees: I like them even more puréed, in a drink or jellied with agar agar.
                      -Figs (are they considered exotic ?) are some of my favourite fruits ever, so luscious and delicate.
                      -Kiwis: so fresh and peppery in their way.

                      I just can imagine myself eating durian, as their fragrance turns my stomac aroung anytime I walk past them in Chinatown.

                      1. Lychees are my absolute favorites - I'm so happy they're available in NYC for quite an extended period every summer now.

                        Mangosteen if they're fresh (have only had good ones in Asia, but when they're good, ohmygoodness).

                        As a fruit flavor - not so much the fruit itself - I adore passion fruit. So exciting to eat.

                        Would love to get my mitts on some of the ones that aren't/can't be imported here...

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: buttertart

                          I've said this a few times but I'd kill to get my hands on a keppel fruit (a malaysian relative of the custard apple, that's supposed to make your sweat smell like violets.)
                          Ive also always been intrigued by the nance fruit (Byrsonima crassifolia) a S. american fruit that's supposed to taste like Parmesean cheese) Ive been able to get seed for that from many tropical suppliers, but it's a hard plant to culitvate that way and my hopes of actually getting the fruit in my mouth probably rely more on someone else doing that part.
                          Other odd fruits
                          Caca-poule (yes that means exactly what it sounds like.) aka chocolate pudding fruit (Dyosporos digyna- A green skinned brown fleshed cousin of the persimmon, which looks and tastes like it's second name. I've seen this in NYC ONCE but didn't buy any (more fool me). I've heard rumors that the fruit of Dyorsporus ebenum (ebony) is also edible, and a perk treat to the timber cutters (in much the same way that the coffee pickers in south america usually get to eat thier fill of the red coffee berry flesh, or chocolate pickers often get to eat the white pulp around the beans. Or at least they did before those products started being marketed as well)

                          Quandong Santalum acuminatum or S. spicatum- An Australian fruit realted to Sandalwood. The fruit is supposed to taste like a peach, and the kernel in the middle of the pit like a hazelnut. Another of those
                          can get the seeds but not the fruit" ones. In this case, culivation is difficult becuse the tree is a parasite (all sandalwoods are) so you need something for it to grow on.

                          1. re: jumpingmonk

                            I can vouch for chocolate pudding fruit aka black sapote. I've only ever tasted Florida-grown black sapote (i also got some on the big island, but sadly i had to leave before they were ripe!). From what I've read, black sapote flavor can vary significantly, but I have only loved them. The flavor is very mild, so if you taste it expecting sugary chocolate pudding, you'll be disappointed. But if you are open to a very subtle sweetness and very subtle chocolate taste, you may find it delicious.

                            Keppel sounds fascinating (and most relatives of the custard apple are worth seeking :) and your nance description reminded me of noni, but they are completely different fruits! The sandlewood fruit you mentioned is sure interesting too!

                            1. re: purslane_fan

                              I've been lucky enough to eat zapote negro in Mexico on multiple occasions. 3 words...oh...my...god. It is fabulously delicious. The first time was in Cuernavaca. We had walked by one of the Maria's sitting on the ground outside the market with these mounds of wrinkled up round fruit that looked way over ripe. On the way out the friend I was with checked them out, said they were perfectly ripe and bought some. We took them back to her house and she prepared them for me. They looked atrocious, but with a dab of sugar and a splash of orange juice they were transformed into one of the best things I have probably ever eaten in my life.

                              A number of small avocado growers in Fallbrook (north San Diego county) have been experimenting and playing around trying to grow a few zapote negro but without much success. They've had good luck growing white sapote but success with the zapote negro has been more eluvsive.

                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                A little OJ with black sapote sounds amazing..

                                Barry Koral (from Vista, and selling at Hillcrest FM) has trees but as far as I know, no fruit yet. Though, I couldn't blame him if he kept it all to himself. :)

                                1. re: purslane_fan

                                  OJ + zapote negro is the classic combination in Mexico and it is fantastic.

                                  I hope Barry eventually gets some fruit. The folks I've talk to in Fallbrook (all private not commerical growers) say the colder winters have been to blame for the fruit not setting.

                                  I recently planted some non fruit producing passion fruit vines. They've really taken off and now I wish I'd planted fruiting vines. Oh well...

                              2. re: purslane_fan

                                No, noni is supposed to taste like rancid cheese, not aged cheese ( I always remember the Haagen Daz newspaper adverty one one side a bottled noni drink marked "Noni drink contains (ingrdients of drink) cures (list of conditions noni supposedy cures) other side Haggen Daz Pralines and Cream ingredients: Pralines, Cream. Cures the taste of noni fruit).
                                Actually, I heard a rumor once that someone one one of the Islands was trying to grow Keppel for the American Market (I've heard similar rumors about test plantations in South America). But they weren't working so well.
                                I though of another one, supposedly there is something called an Antiguan Black Pineapple that's supposed to be incredible.
                                And just because I like to recommend native fruit's (though as this one is endagered, you may have some trouble finding somewhere where you can consume it legally. Mahoe (Alectryon macrococcus) is supposed to be quite tasty.

                                1. re: jumpingmonk

                                  What a fantastic ad! I will have to track it down. Thank you!

                                  1. re: jumpingmonk

                                    I knew if anybody was going to know about some mindblowers it would be you, jumpingmonk. I want a Keppel fruit! I love violet scent.

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      That's the odd thing about them, from what I've read, the fruit itself doesn't smell (or taste) like violets, or anything else much (it's supposed to be slightly sweet, but that's about it) the violet scent is supposed to only come out after the fruit is digested.
                                      Incidentally, for anyone who is traveling to Malaysiam the one place I KNOW has the fruit is on the old palace grounds of one of the malaysian rulers (Unfortunely I forgot which one, on which island.) They are supposedly all over the area of the grounds where the kings harem once lived. According to legend, he had the trees planted there to allow his many wives and concubines to avail themselves of the fruit, so they would smell sweet when he came calling.
                                      BTW I picked sweat to simply be nice, the fruit is actually supposed to make pretty much ALL bodily emissions smell violet-y. In fact, a lot of the buzz on the fruit nowadays is from people who think it might enhance thier partners pleasure in performing..........well, you can probably guess the rest.
                                      Here Is a site that at least shows what the fruit looks like


                                      1. re: jumpingmonk

                                        I was thinking that might be the general drift of the idea. Charming.

                            2. favorites: cherimoya, passionfruit, lulo

                              disliked: dragon fruit, starfruit, mamey, rambutan, durian, guanabana

                              my new discovery (for me): wolfberries

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: racer x

                                If I may be a little snarky,
                                really good peaches, strawberries, and watermelons, like the ones I remember from childhood, have become exotic fruits

                                the stuff I find in the supermaket nowadays can't hold a candle to what used to be available in the supermarkets

                                  1. re: racer x

                                    Which as I mentioned in the previous post, is the problem with 'exotic' fruit in the US. Just because there is the means to transport fruit world-wide, doesn't mean it will be as good, picked ripe from the source ... be it strawberries or mangoes.

                                  2. re: racer x

                                    With the exception of rabutan, have you ever tried any of these fruits in the tropics? Or are you just buying them from US markets.

                                    Until I moved to Guatemala, I would have written off starfruit as not very interesting, good only for decorations. However, fully ripe and straight off the tree they make the most amazingly delicious juice.

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      Very good point.

                                      Most I haven't tried fresh, ripe, and from the source, so to speak.
                                      (On the other hand, I haven't tried them in only US markets.)

                                  3. naranjilla (in raw juice form) is one of my favorite things in the world. i have not been able to find it in boston or philadelphia since leaving ecuador. i did find canned ones but unfortunately the flavor was very different from the fresh. the juice is somewhat sweet and citrus-y with a very unique tart bite to it.

                                    1. Having lived in exotic (to say the least) Guatemala for the past year, it was stunning how different fruit pickd ripe at the source, even bananas, can be totally different. The bananas of Guatemala are ugly, lots of brown on the skin, the type I'd walk by in a market, but the flavor is exceptional. There was a tiny banana that even tasted of strawberries.

                                      There were two standout fruits amoung many ... chicos and anona

                                      Chico's with their fuzzy exterior, look like baseball-size kiwis, the taste and texture of the fuirt is like equisite home-canned spiced pears.


                                      I have lots of photos of the tropical fruit I tried in this flicrk photostream


                                      The version of anona or custard apple picked ripe from the back yard was almost a life-changing taste. My post

                                      Ambrosial annona … on the eighth day God created the custard apple and said “Now this is REALLY good. "


                                      As to mango's, I literally tried over a dozen varieties, some that never make it out of the country. My vote is for the larger variety where you can cut cheeks off rather than having to suck the fruit off a tiny one.

                                      Papayas also have dozens of varieties that can range from sweet and melon-like to bland and flavorless.

                                      Some it depends on how it is used. As I mentioned ... starfruit ... meh ... sweet starfruit juice from fruit picked dead-ripe from the tree ... so soft that juice leaks if you leave them on the counter ... amazing.

                                      The same with the fruit of the cashew. These REALLY need to be soft, like a ripe persimmon or the astringancy is awful. As juice, they are great.

                                      Cashew Fruit/Cashew Apple/ Marañón


                                      I was never a fan of passionfruit, but the yellow variety is great. The yellow is sweeter and juicier, the texture like tapioca with crunch from the seeds. It also makes a nice juice.

                                      The flower of the passionfruit is stunning. It does have a lot to do with the passion of Christ ... lots of symbolixm in the flower and fruit.

                                      Granadia (or Granadilla) is this the same as passion fruit


                                      Caimito is something I would never buy except in the tropics. Unripe, there is latex in it and it coats the mouth in an unpleasant way like rubber. Perfectly ripe and correctly chilled, the juicy cainito has the sweet background taste of dates, almost identical to persimmons. The slippery texture is like grapes.

                                      Cainito, aguay, star apple, vu sua (milk from the breast)


                                      When I was looking up what I was eating, I started this thread which has some links to good sites about tropical fruit

                                      Small little mostly seed fruits such as jocotes and juites, I'm ambivalent about. It is a lot of work for little results. Only the seed is the common factor, the clinging fruit can is different. Jootes are like acitrusy plum with a hint of tannin from the skin. Jutes have the grapel-like texture of lychees but are moe astringent. I prefer lychees which are one of the few tropical fruits that, IMO, transport without losing anything.

                                      Jutes - Another name for these green lychee-like fruit?


                                      I have to guess that anyone who doesn't like guanaba hasn't had a ripe one which is like a guava on steroids.

                                      As far as guavas, one of my favorite is from Costa Rica and called Cas. However, this is also a fruit that is best in juice and not eaten straight ... it can be very sour

                                      What is your favorite type of guava? Pineapple guava, Beaumont red, strawberry guava, Mexican cream, Costa Rican Cas, Red Malasian, etc?


                                      Cacoa (yep chocolate) ... not so impressed fresh. You suck the white membrane off the seeds like a paterna. I perfer paterrna. Then again I was told the cacoa we bought wasn't fully ripe.

                                      I like mamay which is sweet potato like, but these also have to be picked ripe so I wouldn't buy them in the US ... unless they grow in a tropical US place like Hawaii.

                                      Tropical Fruit


                                      1. Two other flavors I've been underwhelmed by: mangosteen and açaí.

                                        Love longans.