If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know we’ve traveled throughout Mexico extensively (especially Los Cabos).
One of the best parts about visiting the country is trying the local food and drinks. The fresh guacamole – which tastes sooo much better in Mexico. The flavorful shrimp tacos (with plump shrimps caught just hours before). The real lime and tamarind margaritas. Which leads us to the fruit in Mexico…
There are so many delicious, interesting – and, yes, sometimes strange – Mexican fruits that we’re boggled by the variety!
Weird and wonderful Mexican fruits
Here’s a look at 17 types of Mexican fruit you should try when in Mexico and at home (you can find many of them in your local grocery store).
1) Dragon fruit (pitahaya)
The fruit that causes a frenzy in Mexico? Mexican pitaya fruit (also spelled “pitahaya”) – or dragon fruit.
One reason is its short season. They’re only available between April and June. The other is their taste and texture – sweet (sort of like a kiwi fruit) and crunchy.
Originally from Asia, dragon fruit is about the size of a baseball, and it grows on a type of cactus. Because of the hot pink color of the outside skin, it’s also sometimes known as “strawberry pear.” The flesh of Mexican dragon fruit is white, with tiny black seeds (which you can swallow).
How to eat dragon fruit?
Simply cut it in half and spoon out the fruit. It’s delicious in fruit salads. It’s also used in desserts and ice cream.
2) Soursop (guanabana)
The soursop or guanabana is a large pear-shaped fruit from Mexico, with a dark green skin covered with big thorns. Inside, the soft creamy flesh is white. It smells a little like pineapple, but it tastes more like a combination of strawberries, oranges and bananas. Be careful not to eat the big black seeds though (they’re toxic).
Soursop is said to reduce inflammation, treat diarrhea and have other health benefits. But you might want to be a little skeptical about these health claims and just enjoy the fruit for what it is. You’ll find it growing anywhere more tropical in Mexico (like Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit) and in Mexican grocery stores.
How to eat soursop?
Cut it in half and scoop out the flesh. Eat it raw as is, or add it to a fruit smoothie.
This red hairy fruit, the size of a golf ball, is commonly seen in southern Mexico. They’re deliciously sweet, tasting a little like lychees. Pick up a bag of rambutans from a roadside stand to nibble on when visiting the Mayan ruins!
How to eat rambutans?
If you have a knife handy, slice the rambutan in half and pop the slippery white fruit in your mouth. You have to kind of suck on the flesh, which surrounds a big seed, then spit the hard seed out (too big to swallow). In Mexico, you’ll also find rambutan turned into agua fresca (light fruit juice).
Ahhh! The Mexican lime! Admittedly, they’re not as exotic as other Mexican fruits. But they sure are plentiful! We buy bags of them when in Mexico. They’re smaller than what you find in Canada and the U.S., and soooo inexpensive.
We use them to flavor so many dishes – from salads and veggies to guac and baked chicken. George has gotten so addicted to limes that he squeezes the juice on practically everything savory when back home too.
How to eat limes in Mexico?
Squeeze them over whatever you want. Place a lime wedge on every dish. And suck on a lime when drinking Tequila!
Mmmm… Mangos are one of our favorite Mexican fruits!
While native to Asia, Mangos grow very well in Mexico. The health benefits of mangos are many too. They’re low in calories, high in fibre, and rich in vitamins A and C. Best of all, the orange-yellow flesh is unbelievably juicy and sweet. We could eat mangos all day long and never tire of them.
How to eat mangos?
Dice them up and eat them for breakfast. Use them in salsas. Try mango juice – or a mango margarita! All sorts of cakes and desserts use mangos too.
6) Zapote negro (sapote)
Chocolate pudding fruit? That’s the best way to describe zapote negros (or sapote negros). You’ll understand why as soon as you see inside this fruit. While covered with a dark green skin, the flesh is dark chocolate in color (when ripe). And it’s so custard-like that it looks like a melted brownie.
Some people swear that it also tastes a little like chocolate, but in truth the flavor is more akin to prunes. Whatever, it’s definitely one of the most exotic Mexico fruits!
How to eat zapote negro?
Cut the baseball-size fruit in half, scoop out the soft inside and press the flesh through a fine sieve to get rid of the seeds. Whip lightly with a fork. Maybe add some whipping cream? Now you’ve got a very decadent (but healthy) dessert!
Do you remember your Greek facts and mythology from school? Hades, the god of the dead, tricked beautiful Persephone into eating four pomegranate seeds, which condemned her to live in the underworld for four months every year.
Anyway, pomegranates were brought to Mexico by the Spanish and are now widely cultivated in the country; the pomegranate season is autumn (late August to November).
How to eat pomegranates:
Cut off the flower from the top of the pomegranate, then score the sides (make shallow slices) with a paring knife. Now crack it open by pulling the fruit apart. All those juicy red fruit-covered seeds inside are delicious to eat as is!
Pomegranates are also a key ingredient in chiles en nogada. This traditional dish, from Mexico’s Puebla state, is made of poblano chiles stuffed with ground beef (or pork), goat cheese and diced pears, apples and peaches, then topped with a walnut cream sauce (called nogada) sprinkled with pomegranates. Not your typical Mexican food, right?
8) Mamey sapote
Like zapote negros (#6), mamey sapote is another type of sapote fruit native to Mexico in the winter. Shaped like small footballs, the mamey fruit has a fuzzy brown skin. Inside, the flesh is a bright salmon color. Its texture resembles the flesh of an avocado, but it tastes like a combination of apricots and sweet potatoes.
Cool factoid: Thousands of years ago, Aztec rulers drank a foamy chili-flavored cacao drink called tejate – the “drink of the gods” – made from the mamey pit. Today, tejate is still enjoyed in Oaxaca, one of the most delightful colonial cities in Mexico.
How to eat mamey sapote?
It’s popular blended into ice creams and smoothies.
Mexicans love papaya. It’s a popular breakfast fruit in Mexico.
They come big in Mexico too – sometimes weighing up to 10 pounds each! (We’ve personally never acquired a taste for the salmon-colored fruit, though a squeeze of lime admittedly makes them taste better.)
How to eat Mexican papayas?
Cut the papaya in half lengthwise and scoop out the small black seeds. You can then peel it and cut it in slices to eat as is. Papayas are also found in salads and salad dressings.
10) Prickly pear (tuna fruit)
No, this “tuna” isn’t fish (known as atun in Mexico). The tuna fruit comes from the nopal cactus, or “prickly pear” in English. Find it everywhere in Mexico in late summer.
Oval-shaped, the skin color ranges from green to orange to burgundy. And it’s covered with clumps of scratchy hairs. The fruit inside also comes in a rainbow of colors, including green, orange, bright pink and yellow, depending on the type of tuna. And it’s crunchy in texture (like an apple).
How to eat tuna fruit?
Cut lengthwise, slice off the ends, peel off the skin and eat. It’s used in candies, jams and jellies, salads, drinks, desserts – anywhere you’d use apples.
11) Lulo (naranjilla)
Lulo (naranjilla) means “little orange” in Spanish. The skin is most often a shiny orange, and the juice is green with a citrusy flavor – think maybe sour rhubarb or sour orange.
How to eat lulo:
You don’t eat the skin. Cut it open and then eat the fruit raw if you wish. But lulo is most drunk as a juice called lulada (great for quenching your thirst when it’s hot).
12) Chirimoya (cherimoya)
“The most delicious fruit known to men” – so said Mark Twain of the chirimoya, also spelled “cherimoya.” The English name for this fruit is custard apple. It’s certainly delicious! (But we still think mangos are the best fruits grown in Mexico.)
Heart-shaped with green bumps on the outside, chirimoya fruits are quite strange looking. But inside, they’re creamy and sweet, bursting with banana, apple and pear flavors. Get them when they’re just turning soft (like an avocado), but know you can’t keep them on the counter for too long, as they have a short shelf life (a few days). Their season is January to June.
How to eat chirimoyas:
You can eat a chilled chirimoya like custard. Slice it in half and scoop out the fruit with a spoon (getting rid of the seeds and the skin). Chirimoyas also make a nice sauce over pancakes and plain yogurt.
13) Loquat (nispero)
The loquat (in English) or nispero (in Spanish) is a small orange-colored fruit. Native to China, loquats now grow well in Mexico too. They have two or three biggish seeds inside, and the fruit tastes like a blend of peaches, apricots and plums.
How to eat loquats:
Peel off the skin, and eat around the seeds. (The skin of loquats can stain your fingernails brown, so wash your hands immediately after peeling.) Or slice it in half, take out the seeds and eat the sliced fruit with a fork and knife. Maybe also try a pineapple-loquat margarita? Blend loquats, pineapple, tequila, triple sec, syrup and lime juice – and enjoy.
14) Guava (guayaba)
Don’t think puny. Mexican guavas (or guayabas) are native to the country and grow much bigger than “normal” guavas – as big as baseballs. Lime green, sometimes yellow on the outside, their flesh ranges from pink to white, depending on the variety. Mexican cream guavas, for example, have a creamy white flesh and are very sweet and aromatic.
If you like pineapples and passion fruit, you’ll like Mexican guavas.
How to eat guavas:
Rinse carefully, and then you can eat the whole guava if you wish (rind and seeds too). Or cut and slice to get at the flesh. Most people also love guava juice. And you’ll find guavas in fruit cocktails too.
15) Starfruit (carambola)
A less common Mexico fruit, starfruit is shaped like a five-pointed star when cut horizontally. Crisp and yellow, the flesh of the fruit is tangy, tasting a little like a blend of pineapple and lemon.
How to eat starfruit:
The whole fruit is edible, so you don’t have to peel the skin. Slice it to eat on its own. Starfruit is also pretty as a garnish. Other ideas? Substitute starfruit for pineapple in upside-down cake, or toss sliced starfruit into chicken salad.
You find lots of coconut plantations around Puerto Vallarta and in Jalisco state.
How to eat coconuts:
When it’s hot outside, there’s nothing better to drink than clear coconut water from a fresh coconut! In markets, vendors hawk young coconuts with straws for sipping the refreshing liquid. Ask the vendor to hack out the meat afterwards to eat as a snack (it’s especially great sprinkled with lime or chili spice). Coconut ice-cream is also popular in Mexico.
17) Mexican plum (ciruela)
Ciruela (Spanish for “plum”) has a very interesting taste – nothing like that of a plum. They’re sweet and acidic at the same time (less sweet than plums you get in the U.S. and Canada). They have a yellowish-green skin, which ripens to orange and burgundy in color.
How to eat ciruelas:
Like regular plums, you can eat them, skin and all, except for the hard pit inside.
List of Mexican fruit
So, what do you think of these Mexican fruits? Are you up for trying them? Let us know! (You can comment below.)
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