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.

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64 Comments (6 pingbacks)

  1. 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.

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  2. 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!

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  3. 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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  4. 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.

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  5. 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.

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  6. 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).

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