Editor’s note: The original article was published in 2011 and updated in 2019 by Mark.
Colombia is a country known for its biodiversity. In fact, after Brazil, it is the most biodiverse country in the world. The biodiversity of Colombia means that the country is awash with flora, forests, and delicious fruit.
Colombia is not just coffee and cocoa plants. The country has almost every type of ecosystem. This makes it the ideal location to grow an enormous variety of different, exotic fruits.
Here at Medellin Living, we have compiled our list of the top 10 exotic fruits you have to try during your time in Colombia:
Guanabana (sometimes referred to as ‘soursop’) is not a fruit to be messed with. Although the spikes are not as severe as durian, it is recommended you do not eat the skin. Furthermore, the black seeds are highly toxic. You should stay aware of them, too!
However, do not let that put you off. Guanabana’s white pulp is soft and the texture is similar to custard. Its enticing aroma is best compared to a banana or a pineapple. Soursop’s uniquely acidic flavor is best enjoyed by cutting the plant in half and scooping out the pulp. However, it often enjoyed as a fruit juice in Medellin.
Guanabana is very high in antioxidants. Although, it has further health benefits and uses throughout the world. For example, in Trinidad the leaves of the plant are boiled into a tea to aid sleep.
I know what you’re thinking. This fruit does look familiar. Cherimoya is also known as ‘sweet apple’ and is of the same genus as Guanabana.
The similarities are obvious in its appearance, but also in the texture of the pulp. Likewise, Cherimoya has a soft pulp that is reminiscent of custard. However, it is a little sweeter and smaller than its bigger brother.
Famous autor, Mark Twain, once described the sweet apple as, “the most delicious fruit known to man”. In addition to its great taste, Cherimoya has very high levels of potassium. Therefore, it’s very good for your blood pressure and heart rate.
Cherimoya is also used by indigenous people to treat lice! For years, they have dried and ground down unripe sweet. Then, they apply the powder to lice-ridden hair. It truly brings a new meaning to the term ‘super food’.
As aforementioned, the Chiramoyas were held in high esteem by author Mark Twain. Similarly, the Mangosteen has also had some fans in the public eye.
In 1890, Queen Victoria discovered that her new favorite fruit quickly spoiled in the European climate. As a result, she offered anyone who brought her a mangosteen a knighthood. Whether the story is true or not, the mangosteens’ nickname, ‘the queen of fruits’, seems justified.
The mangosteen has a hard-purple colored outer shell, which must be removed. The inside contains white-colored segments, reminiscent of an orange. However, the taste is a cross between a lychee and a peach.
The fruit is available in Medellin, but it is a little more expensive due to it not being grown locally. Although, a few extra pesos are worth it for a fruit that is considered royalty.
Uchuvas go by a variety of different names. They are natively Peruvian. They can be referred to as a ‘physalis peruviana’ or an ‘Inca berry’. In English, they are often called ‘golden berries’ or ‘gooseberries’. However, whatever name you give them, they remain delicious.
The majority of uchuva’s are grown along the mountainous coastlines of Perú and Chile. However, they are also cultivated in Colombia.
The fruit itself is encased in a beige husk which must be peeled off before consuming. The texture is similar to a tomato, but the taste is much more tropical. It is often described as a hybrid of a mango and a pineapple.
Although the husk is inedible, it gives the berry a decorative quality. As a result, it is common to find them used as a garnish for high-end desserts throughout South America.
Carambolo is another fruit that is ‘easy on the eye’ and used as a decorative garnish.
Outside of Medellin, you will most likely know this as a ‘star fruit’. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where it gets its name from.
It originates from Sri Lanka, but it is now grown in the Americas. The fruit prospers in moist conditions. Furthermore, it is often enjoyed as a fruit juice in Colombia. If it’s not in the juice, it may be used for décor at the top of your glass.
Unlike a lot of the fruits on this list, carambolo is unique in that all of its parts are edible and flavorsome. Furthermore, star fruit’s high vitamin C content does wonders for your immune system.
South America is awash with different varieties of passion fruits. However, maracuyá is arguably the most popular and beloved in Colombia.
Maracuya is mostly consumed as a drink. However, it’s tart-flavor lends itself to delicious varieties of ice cream that are readily available through Medellin.
Although, if you’re only looking to eat the fruit it is also ‘muy rica’. To eat it you open its shell, scooping out the seeds and the gloopy jelly. It is easier and cleaner to do this with a spoon.
If you are choosing a maracuyá, it is important you chose one that feels heavier. These will last longer and are more ‘fruit-full’.
Guama is a particularly sweet fruit that is sometimes referred to as ‘ice cream bean’.
Whereas maracuya is often made into an ice cream flavor, guama’s white pulp actually tastes like vanilla ice cream. The seeds can be cooked and eaten too, but their taste is savory and similar to chickpeas.
Guama can be known to lower cholesterol levels. Furthermore, it is often used as a flavoring agent in health-conscious desserts. This is perfect for people who have a sweet tooth but are looking to stay trim.
This legume is a life-saver if you sometimes over-indulge in the sweeter things in life.
Lulo’s origins are based in Quitos, Ecuador. The scientific name for the fruit, “Solanum quitoense”, is directly lifted from the name of the capital city.
However, similarly to Perú, Ecuador now refers to the fruit as a ‘naranjilla’ (small orange)
Despite the color, there are few similarities with an actual orange. Lulo’s texture is more comparable to a tomato and the fruit has a citrus twang. It tastes more like a combination of a lime and a rhubarb. However, aside from renaming it, Colombian’s have put their own unique twist on Lulos.
In Cali, the fruit is often fermented and drunk as a ‘Lulada’. The fermented lulo is mixed with lime juice, sugar, and water. The consistency is similar to a smoothie. Furthermore, a lulada is best enjoyed with a shot of vodka on the side.
We are yet to find one in Medellin but if you try a lulada, let us know!
In English, a Chontaduro is known as a ‘peach palm’. However, it tastes very different to actual peaches.
Luladas are one of the most popular drinks in Cali, but Chontaduro is widely-recognized as the providence’s favorite fruit.
The taste and texture are wildly different to others on the list. It has a floury texture similar to a sweet potato or butternut squash. This can make the fruit seem fairly dry. However, people often add salt or honey to enhance its flavor.
Those who eat Chontaduros often don’t do so for its taste. The fruit has some incredible health benefits. Firstly, one serving of peach palm has as much protein as an egg. Furthermore, Chontaduro supposedly does wonders for male virility. Despite a lack of research, the fruit is somewhat lovingly known as ‘the nation’s viagra’.
It’s a little rare in Medellin, but some supermarkets do stock peach palms.
This fiery fruit is more commonly known as a ‘dragon fruit’. It comes from three types of indigenous cactuses found in the Americas.
Pitahaya is probably the most refreshing fruit on this list. The inner white-colored pulp is rich in moisture and is perfect for summer days in Medellin.
At first, the fruit is a little intimidating. How do you prepare that? However, it’s relatively straightforward. You cut through the pink outside and slice it into quarters.
Dragon fruit tastes similar to a pear or a kiwi fruit. However, the skin is best avoided as it’s extremely bitter.
The chemical that causes pitahaya’s pink coloring, ‘lycopene’, has shown to dramatically reduce the risk of prostate cancer. However, the fruit should be consumed sparingly because of its high levels of fructose.
Have you tried any of these? What did you think? And what fruits did we miss? Let us know in the comments!
And click here to read the list of 22 exotic tropical fruits!