Are you a fruit lover? Do you like to try different kind of fruits that you've never seen before? If you're a fruit lover like me, then good news! There's absolutely a number of exotic fruits out there that we have never seen and tried before. Even some farmer's market are limited to whatever is local. Thanks to supermarket we now can get some exotic fruits from different places. Nowadays, supermarket produce sections offer a wide choice of fruits from around the world, thanks to modern shipping and storage techniques. Many of these are tropical fruits with unique flavors and textures, others are from mainland China and other temperate areas. Whatever their origin, most are good sources of valuable nutrients.
Belunu or Bundu
Belunu is a seasonal fruit which is found in the island of Borneo. It has a delicious taste of sweet and sour (if it’s not fully ripe), almost similar to soursop. Belunu is sometimes referred to as the indigenous fruit because it cannot be found elsewhere but Borneo. It is not possible to pick the fruits from the tree due to its height - it can grow really tall! It is best to wait until the fruits fall to the ground naturally when they’re ripe. A single belunu tree can produce more than one hundred fruits at a time. Belunu is rich in protein and vitamin C. As with any other tropical fruits, it should be eaten moderately as you might get a side effect if you eat too much.
One of the pretties fruits, cape gooseberries contain reasonable amounts of beta carotene and vitamin C, which are important antioxidant nutrients, as well as potassium, which is vital for proper muscle function and is needed to maintain healthy blood pressure. It is known to have originated from Peru and its cultivation can be traced to the Inca. The ripe fruit can be eaten fresh. Because of its unique flavor, it is used in salads and cooked dishes.
Southeast Asia, as well as other tropical countries along the equator are blessed with an abundance of sweet, awesome tasting fruits that are not available elsewhere in the world. Cempedak is one of them. It is native to Malaysia, Indonesia, Southern Thailand, New Guinea and Borneo. As with durian, tarap and jackfruit, cempedak has a strong aroma that can be easily distinguished between the four exotic fruits. A ripe cempedak can be smelled from far away, similar to durian. Some people say cempedak tastes far more superior than a jackfruit. It has that sweet nectar flavor that jackfruit doesn’t have. Cempedak contains vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber which are good for the heart, eyes, digestion and lowering cholesterol in the blood.
This is the generic name given to a South American family (Annonacedae) of some 160 fruits. Custard apple is also known as sweetsop. It has a creamy texture with sweet taste similar to tropical fruits like banana and pineapple. Sweetsop is often eaten with a spoon and usually served chilled. The fruits are usually heart-shaped with scaly skins. They are a good source of potassium as well as vitamin C and fiber. This unique fruit may help to boost immunity, promote heart health and fight inflammation. Pay attention not to consume this fruit in high amount due to it containing toxins that may damage your nervous system.
Native to Mexico and South America, dragon fruit thrives in tropical environment such as Hawaii, Florida and many other Southeast Asian countries. It has an almost similar taste to that of kiwi fruit but it is sweeter. It is low in calories and fat free. Dragon fruit is rich in fiber, magnesium, iron and vitamin C. The health benefits from eating dragon fruit include promote healthy gut, cardiovascular and reduce colon cancer risk. Dragon fruit is best eaten raw but you can also add to cocktails, desserts, smoothies and salads.
Dubbed the “king of fruits”, durian can be found in many Southeast Asian countries. It is packed with nutrients, containing more than most other fruits. Durian is a unique tropical fruit distinguished by its spiky, large, hard outer shell as well as its strong smell. It has a custard-like flesh with large seeds. The fruit flesh can range in color but it is very common to see yellow and white ones. You can also find them in red or green color. They’re most commonly found in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Durian is rich in potassium, dietary fiber, iron, vitamin C and vitamin B complex to help support our immune system, improve muscle strength, blood pressure and bowel movements. People suffering from diabetes should stay away from durian due to its high sugar content – sucrose, fructose and glucose. Even though it is highly nutritious, like any other food, it is best consumed in moderation. Lastly, it is advisable not to eat durian with alcohol, soda, milk, coffee, eggplant, crabs, beef and mutton.
How to cut and open a durian
The naming of this fruit varies depending on the country it can be found. Jackfruit can be found in countries like Malaysia, Thailand, India, Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh. The trees are naturally resistant to high temperatures, drought and pests. The ripe jackfruit can be eaten fresh while the young ones can be cooked with dishes. When fully ripe, jackfruit has a pleasant aroma with naturally sweet and mousy taste. All parts of the fruit discharge a white sticky latex which makes it challenging to cut the fruit as the knife gets sticky and gummed up. The seeds can be boiled and eaten. Jackfruit is high in vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, copper and potassium which makes it rich in several types of antioxidants.
These smallest of all citrus fruits is native to Southeast Asia. Kumquat resembles an orange in color but it’s quite small, approximately the size of a grape, yet it fills your mouth with a delicious sweet tart citrus flavor. It is typically oblong in shape and it contains high amount of fiber. Unlike other citrus fruits, kumquats have a sweet edible rind. They are a good source of vitamin C and potassium; they also have fair amounts of calcium and vitamin A.
The fruit is believed to have originated from west Malaysia in which it grows very well. It is also found in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. There have been attempts to grow the fruit in southern Florida but the trees have succumbed to the low temperatures and limestone terrain. Langsat is also known as Longkong and Lanzones. The flavor is a mixture of pomelo and lychee. It is sweet, sour, juicy and tangy. The fresh langsat has the best taste because if kept for days, it may lose its taste and become bland. Langsat contains many vital nutritional values such as proteins, minerals, vitamins and fiber. It is rich in vitamin A, riboflavin and thiamine which are important for many body functions.
These Asian fruits, related to lychees, are also known as “dragon’s eyes.” They are very popular fruit that can be found in many Southeast Asian countries. The nutritional profiles of longan and lychee are quite similar. Longans have been long used by the Chinese as a blood tonic to build energy, add beauty to the skin and calm the mind. The dark brown seed shows through the translucent flesh which makes it look like the pupil of an eye. Their hard shell is easily cracked. Longans have a high content of iron than many other fruits.
Also called Japanese plums, loquats have a tender, juicy flesh that is reminiscent of plums or cherries. They taste like a mixture of apple and apricot. They are small, round fruits and grow in clusters. Loquats are an excellent source of potassium and vitamin A. There are research that suggest loquats can prevent certain conditions such as heart disease and cancer as well as reduce blood sugar level.
Originally from China and related to longans, canned lychees are popular in Asian cooking. Lychee is a popular fruit grown throughout Southeast Asia and other tropical zones. Harvest season depends on countries, for example in Hawaii, it typically happens between May and June. In some tropical places, fresh lychees are available from November to January. When ripe, the fruit is bright red and it is easy to pull apart the thorny skin. It has a sweetly perfumed aroma that is reminiscent of elder flowers. Loquats are an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium. The flavor is sweet and juicy with fruity taste.
Nicknamed “Queen of Fruits”, the fruit is native to Southeast Asia and widely grown in Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Philippines and Cambodia. It is not easy to grow mangosteen as it is ultra-tropical. It cannot tolerate temperatures below 400F (4.50C) and above 1000F (380C). The fruits must be harvested by hand and must not be allowed to fall. Mangosteens are usually eaten fresh as dessert. The fruit rind is most commonly used to make medicine for diarrhea, eczema and other skin conditions. Mangosteen powder is used to treat gum diseases such as loose teeth and bleeding.
How to open a mangosteen
One of the most fragrant and distinctive tasting of all tropical fruits, the passion fruit is also called granadilla, which means “little pomegranate.” This delicacy originally comes from Brazil. It is high in potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and is also a good source of iron. There are two types of the passion fruit which is purple and yellow. The purple one is said to be flavorful, juicy and less acidic than the yellow one. Inside the hard rind are pulps and lots of seed that can be eaten fresh or add to other juices.
This national fruit of Japan is also known as “Sharon fruit.” Persimmons are native to Japan, Korea, China, Myanmar and Nepal. They contain many nutrients such as beta-carotene, vitamin A and iron. If you’ve never eaten a persimmon, it has a bitter taste and chalky mouth-feel. When eaten fully softened, it has a sweet and delicate flavor, thanks to their high glucose content. Persimmons can be eaten raw, dried and cooked. They can also be added to salads and use as a topping for breakfast cereal.
A worldwide folkloric symbol of fertility and life, the pomegranate is a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and its seeds are high in fiber. Pomegranate is said to be originated from Iran (Persia) and quickly spread throughout Mediterranean, Arabia, India and China. Choose pomegranate with deep, vibrant color and a bit lumpy. A lumpy pomegranate means that it is ripe and the seeds inside are becoming juicy. The small white seed in pomegranate contains punicic acid which has been shown to fight against heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
How to cut pomegranate and make juice
The largest citrus fruit, this ancestor of the grapefruit originated in South and Southeast Asia. It weighs between 2-4 pounds (1-2 kg). Like most citrus fruits, pomelos are an excellent source of vitamin C. It is the least acidic of all citrus fruits and does not have that sour taste unlike other citrus fruits. The rind is thick and spongy which makes it fairly easy to peel. The flesh is firm and less juicy than a grapefruit. Always select the heaviest pomelo you can find in order to avoid getting an old or dried out pomelo.
How to open a pomelo
Rambutan is available in many Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Borneo. It is a common fruit the same way an apple is common in cooler climates. “Rambut” is a Malay word which means “hair” and this refers to the spiky rind. Rambutan is similar to lychee except that it has the soft spines on the rind. Both fruits are from the same botanical family. Other members of the same botanical family includes longan, mamoncillo, pulasan and guarana. Rambutan is rich in vitamin C and contains a good amount of copper. It is very nutritious and can help in weight loss as well as better digestion.
Sapota or Chiku
This fruit is called many different names depending on where you find them. They’re available in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Caribbean and tropical regions. Sapota is believed to be native to Yucatan in Mexico and well as Guatemala and West Indies. It was brought to the Philippines by Spanish colonialists and then it spread throughout Southeast Asia. Sapota fruits are brown, round or oblong with a thin skin. The flesh is sweet and juicy, soft and reddish brown in color. It is rich in dietary fiber and vitamin C.
Tarap is a fruit that is unique and native to the island of Borneo. The fruit is about the same size as durian except the spine is softer, rubbery and easy to open. They are usually harvested green from the tree and allowed to ripen off the tree. The outer rind turns brownish-yellow which signals they’re ready to be consumed. Simply pry apart the rind that separates it from the inner fruit. The flesh is soft and creamy white, almost similar in shape to a jackfruit flesh but they’re not sticky. The fruits are so tasty, easy to eat and before you know it, they’re all gone!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2011 ma45frost
Tuan Nguyen from San antonio, tx on February 04, 2013:
I love fruits. Nice article Ma45frost
precy anza from USA on November 07, 2012:
I love Longans! ^-^' Now you making me crave for them :)
ma45frost (author) from USA on April 15, 2011:
Mike, thanks for dropping by.
Mike on April 09, 2011:
Some look delicious...but need a name change "smile"