Colombian Fruit: My Mission to Try Them All

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My favourite thing about Colombia was the fruit: delicious, cheap, plentiful and there are so many unusual varieties to try. You have the usual tropical fruit like pineapple, mango, papaya and watermelon but there are many more including some that are only available in Colombia or nearby countries.

I made it my mission during our 2.5 month stay to try as many Colombian fruits as I could. There is a bewildering array so I have documented it here so you know which ones to look out for on your visit.

Passionfruit – There are a number of passionfruits in Colombia:

maracuya_passionfruitMaracuya – This oval yellow passionfruit is the most common variety. It’s ripe when the hard skin is wrinkly. You cut it in half and scoop out the gunky insides which are full of small seeds. I liked it on my granola, but due to the tart flavour it is more common in delicious juices – one of my favourites.

gulupa_purple_passionfruitGulupa – A smaller, less common version of maracuya with a dark purple skin. This inside is similar but I preferred it to maracuya as although it’s still tart it’s a little sweeter.

granadilla fruit, ColombiaGranadilla – A round, orange passionfruit with crunchy blue seeds in the gooey gunk. It’s much sweeter and milder so is better for eating alone rather than as juice. Another tasty addition to my granola.

Curuba – The banana passionfruit is a longer version in a small banana shape. I didn’t like this too much as although the gunk tasted fine the seeds were bitter and difficult to avoid.

Lulo – A very typical Colombian fruit that is only found there and in neighbouring Ecuador (where it’s known as naranjilla). It isn’t the easiest fruit to eat – it needs to be eaten when very soft, there are seeds to deal with and it’s a bit tart, so it’s usually used for juice. Jugo de Lulo is wonderful and refreshing with a sweet, almost sherbet flavour. Simon says it tastes like skittles (the sweet/candy). Don’t miss it.

Pitahaya– Also known as dragon fruit I enjoyed the pink version in Asia and here it is yellow. The spiky skin reveals a white filling with small black seeds. It’s tasty and sweet and can be eaten scooped out with a spoon. It is quite expensive compared to other fruit here, and not as easily found.

Mora – These small purple berries are very similar to blackberries with a tart flavour. It makes an excellent juice.

Feijoa – It looks like a small green cucumber with light brown/orangey flesh inside that I scooped out with a small spoon. I thought it was tasty – quite sweet, aromatic, and not too many seeds. It’s also known as pineapple guava or guavasteen.

Uchuva –This orange fruit is the size of a cherry tomato and grows inside a papery wrap. They manage to be sweet and sour at the same time.

Guayaba – Guava is popular and cheap in Colombia and is supposed to be very nutitious. The skin is edible but mine was too bitter so I stuck to the mild, pleasant pink flesh. I found the hard seeds annoying though.

Guayaba Manzana -The apple guava is much bigger, round, green on the outside with a white inside. It tastes just like guayaba and has the same hard seeds.

Guanábana– Another Colombian classic the soursop is a strange looking thing. It’s huge with a green spiky skin and a slimy white inside. It’s messy to eat so it’s best to stick to the juice. The juice wasn’t bad but I found it a bit strange– it looks like milk and has an unusual but mild flavour.

Tomate de Arbol –The tree tomato aka tamarillo is tomatoey as you’d expect. It isn’t sweet and although I liked it raw it’s usually consumed as juice or boiled in sugar. It’s oval shaped with a dark, orangey red inside and small black seeds that are OK to eat.

Carambolo – The starfruit has a mild flavour, that doesn’t taste of much to me. It looks cool though. Note: I’ve since had starfruit in Costa Rica and it had a much more tart taste.

Níspero – This unusual fruit is round with a rough brown skin. The pale orange inside also has a slightly rough texture and a sweet, malty taste. There are a few large black seeds but they are easy to remove. Apparently it tastes like chocolate as a juice.

Zapote -It looks like níspero but is smaller.

Chontodura –This bright red fruit is orange inside and looks like sweet potato. I had never heard of it before but was told by the vendor it’s from the Pacific Coast. Doing some research I think it’s also called pejibaye in other countries. I bought what I thought was a juice but it turned out to be fermented and I later discovered: “A strong alcoholic drink is made by allowing the raw, sugared flesh to stand for a few days until it ferments. This is prohibited in some parts of tropical America.

Caimito – The Caribbean coast has many new fruits to try. I saw this dark purple fruit on a street stall in Cartagena and jumped at the chance to add to my exploration. It’s also known as star apple and the white filling has a mild, grape-like flavour I liked.

Corozo – Another Caribbean addition this small red fruit is only consumable as juice. It’s a bit like cranberry and is delicious.

Despite my mission I didn’t get to try all Colombian fruits. Some I couldn’t find include mamoncillo, anona, and borojo so look out for them on your visit to Colombia.

Leave a reply and tell us your favourite Colombian fruit.

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68 thoughts on Colombian Fruit: My Mission to Try Them All

  1. A lot of the fruits you mentioned or said weren’t your favorite we usually make them into juices(especially if they’re bitter, or tart, or not too sweet) or like someone else suggested, the tart ones or some that are not ripe we eat with salt lemon(well lime) and pepper.. Delish

  2. Have you ever had Momon from Colombia. I had them on the streets of Barranquilla. Red, and very sweet, like strawberries.

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  4. As a Colombian myself, I recommend you to try green star gooseberries (grosellas). And for a better taste, you should try fruits like unripe mago, guayaba agria, grosellas or lulos with salt and lemon. Yummy.

  5. Many of the fruits are not so good pure, but very good in a mix with milk and sugar, to compensate the acid. You should try curuba with milk and sugar, totally different taste!

  6. I’m from North Colombia and grew up eating some of these fruits and a lot more that can only be found locally. Corozo is one of many fruits from palm trees. This particular one has black skin and reddish sour/sweet pulp the size of a cherry. Is made into juice or frozen juice bars.

  7. This post is fascinating! I love learning about the different types of foods that are relative to particular regions and you did a really nice job giving quality yet brief descriptions of each fruit, and the photos really helped to imagine the taste! I am planning on traveling to Colombia in the spring and knowing how easily accessible and fairly cheap the fruit is makes me even more excited to experiment!

  8. Enjoyed reading your comments on the beautiful and delicious fruits of Colombia. But as usual there is a dark side to what is happening in Colombia as well as many other countries producing and depending on vast amounts of agriculture production for their economy. As one example, in Colombia, the growers of passion fruit have had to resort to hiring people to pollinate the flowers of the passion fruit (they use their fingers to push into the flower, gather the pollen and pass to other flowers.) as there is a dramatic loss of bumblebees that would typically pollinate the flower and initiate the formation of the fruit. So much pesticides are being used that it is killing off the bees and other natural pollinators. We are soiling our nest slowly but surely if we maintain these practices. If you enjoy these fruits encourage the countries to minimize the application of pesticides. Once in the food chain, it not only kills but continues to have long term negative impacts. And unfortunately, in developing and emerging economies, profits are put ahead of ecology and conservation. A sad but real endangerment to the fruits we all love.

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  10. I’m a native of Colombia. Of It
    Italian parents. Left the country many years ago for school. I want to bring two issues in your page. One is Corozo. It is edible and we loved to eat when we were kids. It has the same taste as the juice and you peel the skin w your teeth and spit it out or eat it. Then you put the seed all surrounded with the pulp and rolled with your teeth and tongue and eat the meat. It is delicious. We also used it as ammunition for slingshot battles. If they hit you they will leave the red splat. It was cool. The other one is that The Zapote is much larger than nispero and reddish in color. Like the color of the salmon fish. It is besides nispero, my favorite fruit. The best juice of both is made with water but you can ask to be made w milk. Yes, we have many many fruits. Try green mango ceviche. It is delicious. Also try Mamon. It is another edible strange fruit. Ask for it w that name.

  11. I have tried almost all the fruits of Colombia and I absolutely love fruits. This Country is my second home and I have managed to eat more fruits now and they are fresh too.

  12. What a great guide to Colombia’s fruits. This is my third time here (my wife’s from Cartagena), and once again I’m loving their unique fruits as well.
    Thanks for sharing your guide – there’s a few there I still need to find.
    A couple of my favourites are guanabana smoothies (with milk) and passionate fruit smoothie (with milk).

  13. Thanks for the great post here. I will be visiting Colombia soon and will have a similar mission to eat as many types of tropical fruit as possible. Can you recommend any specific markets where to get these fruits? Thanks again.

    • We spent most of our time in Medellin and didn’t actually have a market near our house so bought many of these cheaply from the supermarket. Others we just found being sold at stalls on the street. You won’t have a problem finding them!

  14. Simon and Erin! So glad you got to experience the richness of flavors in Colombia. Thank you for promoting it! a lot of farmers need this kind of help, we need to let the world now how wonderful it is to go and taste so many different flavors and benefit your health with the amazing properties of our fruits! Love your blog! Keep up the good work 😉 !!!!

  15. You should try Canandonga, it’s really good, but the odor is bad. However, after is blend with milk, it taste like Milo.

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  17. What a fun “mission”; and what a great and informative post.
    You should go back to Colombia, because there are a bunch of other fruits that you should try; for example
    Mangostin: is is one of the most delicious fruits in the world (but expensive and hard to find).
    Mamoncillos (also called quenepas in Mexico). I love them.
    Grocellas: very sour, eat them with salt or make preserves.
    Tamarindo:Also very sour,eat with sugar or in juice
    Badea: delicious juice.
    Borojo: It is beleived to have the power to enhance male sexual power.
    Mango viche: green mango, eaten with salt.
    And last the correct spelling is “chontaduro”, this one is definitely an acquired taste.

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  19. I just had a mora smoothie with milk at La Moon restaurant in Miami and found your website. It was so delicious and unlike anything else that I had to find out more. What great pictures and lovely descriptions of them. Thank you!

  20. These are othwr delicious fruits you can find in Colombia:

    -Pomarosa (not easy to find)
    -Banano Bocadillo (Lady finger banana).
    -Ciruela Calentana

    pd. Try again Feijoa but as Juice. For sure you will like it.

    • I am watching Anthony Bourdain crossing Columbia…they have a drink there called Viche that I want to try…I live in Dallas, but used call Peru home…Pucallpa specifically. It’s a bit isolated, but the jungle lends a passion to culinary pursuits, both solid and liquid…

      But I’ve always had a curiosity for the tastes of more alcoholic trends…so the Viche of Columbia intrigues me…I’d never heard of it until it appeared on Bourdain’s adventure into the home of my vocal coach. Two drinks appeared and I want them both, so I will pursue them here. What if any, were your encounters with Viche or Aguardiente there? The locals of course, love them with certain foods. Will I? I don’t know, but my tongue longs to try!

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  22. I like your post but I just want to be clear the zapote is nothing like nispero and is bigger… I think you got confused there. Thanks for your great post of my country fruits.

  23. Thanks so much for this most excellent guide to the Colombian fruit kingdom! I’m a little surprised that you didn’t encounter ciruelas costeñas when you were there, though. We just got back, and by far and away, there were more ciruelas than any other fruit. There were heaps and heaps of them in Cartagena!

    Two other regional fruits we tried (Amazonian, not particularly Colombian) were arazá and cupuaçu.

    Also encountered a strange, large, red fruit, kind of like a cross between a giant eggplant and rhubarb. The grocer told me it was good for juice, but I didn’t catch the name.

    The hunt continues. . . .

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  25. Hi, I’m Colombian and I’m glad you like our fruits. I ran into this website by searching for a photo of “Corozo” and trying to find its translation into English…but maybe it is called like that…but maybe it’s a family of the berries but dont know the name. My favourite is Lulo and to eat the flesh Papaya is delicious too.

  26. Love the article! Very descriptive and great photos. I am currently living in Colombia and have to agree that my favorite part is the array of delicious juices. My favorites would have to be Maracuya, Lulo, and Mora. I have tried almost all of these as a juice but hadn’t seen a few of them as a whole fruit Thanks!

  27. This is amazing!!! Many fruits look similar and very exotic to me. Fruits in tropical countries are amazing. Full of taste!!
    You sum up real good here. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • Tropical fruit is one of the things I will miss most when we head to North America and Europe for a few months. Pineapple in England is not the same!

  28. Starfruit (carambolo) and a few of the passionfruit varieties have made their way to New York City. Having never traveled in South America, though, most of these were new to me. I must admit that fruit with a gooey center that’s scooped out with a spoon is a very strange concept, but that wouldn’t prevent me from trying it if I had the chance!

  29. Nice job on this…I like the photos and how you laid it out, etc.! I lived in Ecuador a while back and tried the same ones in the post and really enjoyed most of them. I liked Guanábana quite a bit, as well as Maracuya. Of course, basic piña was wonderful! 🙂

  30. This is an awesome post – helps us to remember the names of some fruits we’ve discovered in Central America (missing all the fruits already!!) We fell in love with fresh Guanabana in Mexico and were happy that it was available in most of the countries further south. We only came across Caimito recently in Costa Rica – yummy, but a weird consistency.. Mora is one of our favorites 🙂 There are quite a few we haven’t tried yet – looking forward to trying them (whenever we get to Colombia ;-)…)!

  31. Wow… I love fruit! I didn’t realise there were so many types I’ve never tried before… This makes me want to jump on a plane to Colombia right now! 😀

  32. I’m so happy you posted this! You’ve shed light on a few of my “what was that fruit called again??” memory farts of Central America. My friends and I were always super amused by how Granadilla skins felt after eating the fruit and I totally miss having them around all the time!

      • No, it doesn’t. The inner part of chocolate fruit is sweet and tasty, and if you want to try it, you’ll have to go to a rural area because it’s not supposed to be consumed as a fruit. Nobody sells it because it doesn’t worth it, the valuable parts are the seeds, most of the fruit becomes useless if you eat the scarce slimy flesh.
        By the way, I’m Colombian. Bye!

  33. I have to say that I am generally disappointed in all passionfruit, as I feel that none of it lives up to it’s name! It should BURST with fruity, sweet goodness, with no bitterness! Well, that’s my perception anyways! 🙂

    Question – is Uchuva also known as gooseberries? I love those and they look awfully similar.

    My favourite had to be Mora juice – SO GOOD!

    • I knid of like the tangyness of passion fruit, especially in juices. Mora makes a great juice. I think Uchuvas are also known as cape gooseberries, but they are very different from the green gooseberries we have in England.

    • You still have time!

      Lulo and mora juice are two of my favourites, although you can’t go wrong with maracuya. I think Colombian fruits tend to work better as juices than eaten raw.

  34. Oh they’re so colorful and yummy looking. Guayaba looks hella interesting — like watermelon, but pinker. Feijoa looks a little intimidating, but glad to hear it’s sweet. Can’t wait to try all of these.

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