The Weird World of Colombian Fruits

Most people think of cocaine and coffee when considering Colombian agriculture, but in actuality Colombia is a spectacularly fertile place. Not only does Colombia grow a large percentage of the flowers imported to the USA, it’s got an incredible diversity of fruits.

Seriously, Colombia has fruits you’ve never even heard of, never even dreamed of!

Fruit is super popular here. Every restaurant has at least on jugo del dia on the menu and street carts sell all sorts of unrecognizable fruits. Recently I got the chance to visit one of Bogota’s largest fruit markets and try a whole bunch of the interesting fruits that are unique to Colombia. Here are a few:

Lulo

In addition to having the most adorable name of any fruit ever, these are super popular in Colombia. These tart little fruits look like a kiwi stuffed inside of a tomato. They are mostly served as a juice. You can eat them raw but you’ll get a mouthful of slimy seeds.

Tomate de arbol, tamarillo
photo credit: ximenacab

Tomate de Arbol (Tamarillo)

That’s right the tree tomato. This is actually my favorite fruit I’ve tasted here so far. You know how everyone says tomatoes are fruit but then they get lumped in with the veggies anyways? This is a really fruity tomato- it’s sweet and tart but it still has a little bit of that tomato flavor.

Granadilla

Looks kind of like an orange on the outside, but on the inside…. so gross looking. It kind of looks like frog eggs: seeds cased in a thick clear jelly. If you can get past appearances it tastes pretty good: it’s a member of the passionfruit family but sweeter, and the seeds are crunch and edible.

Uchuva

These bright little fruits are delicious! They are also called Peruvian cherries but are closely related to the Tomate de Arbol up there. They are the size of a cherry tomato but bright yellow and bursting with tart flavor. I’ve seen them served at restaurants as finger food. They are also apparently super good for you.

Soursop 015
photo credit: I likE plants!

Guanabana

The soursop is a big green spiky thing- about the size of a football or even larger. When you cut them open the innards are white, custardy and well… really freaking gross. You pick off small pieces of the gooey inside- each bit contains a large seed. It’s supposed to taste kind of like a creamy pineapple, but I was so icked out by the texture I really couldn’t tell you. I think it’s probably better in juice.

 Carambola

Otherwise known at the star fruit- you can also find them all over South East Asia and India. They are called star fruit because when you slice them lengthwise you end up with a bunch of star shapes. Their flavor is hard to describe: it tastes kind of like a citrusy apple or pear. They are full of vitamin C!

Zapotes
photo credit: leoncillo sabino

Zapote

According to the internet, this is also known as a chupa chupa. They are kind of a dull brown color on the outside, inside is thick and orange, similar to pumpkin. Using your teeth, you kind of scrape the sweet insides off of the hard outer skin. It tastes kind of sweet but also pretty mild. I liked it.

Pitayas (Dragon Fruit)

You may know those bright pink dragon fruits so popular in Asia. These are a little different. They have the same spiky exterior except they are yellow instead of pink. Inside is also similar: white with tiny black seeds, but the taste is not as sweet.

Avocado

You already know about avocados of course, but these giant green fruits are quite different from the run-of-the-mill Hass avocados we’re used to eating at home. In addition to being larger, smoother and greener, the insides are light and creamy. They are a staple here and people eat them by the slice, sprinkled with salt. So yummy!

This is in addition to the usual suspects: oranges, watermelons, strawberries, blackberries, apples and a whole slew of other things I can’t remember right now. Colombia is a fruit lover’s paradise!

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cristopher
cristopher

all fine and good but if you want the real goods you have to visit the markets in the small towns of ecuador. wow!!

danielwalldammit
danielwalldammit

Okay some of these look damned tasty, and here I am stuck in a land where you are lucky to find a fresh strawberry. …sigh!

Rebeca
Rebeca

I lived in Colombia for 16 years. There was a fruit that you ate the outer shell and it had a loose seed in the middle but can’t remember the name. I think it was rose something! Do you by any change know the name of this fruit?

Paula
Paula

I’m Colombian, and this is the very first time I read an article different from te common ones of “cocaine, drugs.. immigrants” Thank you so much for showing this. There’s a lot more of fruits you should try, go to la Costa ( Cartagena, Barranquilla) or to El Amazonas. I mean better plan a “tour” from south to north. I’m sure that you will be really pleased 🙂

Gualdi
Gualdi

@Eleanor you are talking about the GUAMA! … that’s delicious too.

There were so many fruits that the article didn’t mention as Papayuela, Feijoa, Mamey, Nispero, Borojo, Mamoncillo, Anón, Chirimoya, Agraz, Curuba…

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