The Fruits of Costa Rica

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The Fruits of Costa Rica


Typical market in anywhere Costa Rica.
Typical market in anywhere Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is home to many unique fruits and they are VERY tasty. Here’s a list of some of more popular flavors.

Aguacate (Avocado) - Avocado is indeed a fruit and it does grow on trees. The avocados in Costa Rica are a little more firm than those found in the States, and they are frequently mixed with other fruit juices or in milk shakes.

Anona – Anona is a heart-shaped fruit, also called “the bullock’s heart” and it changes from green to a dark reddish-brown as it ripens. The sweet pulp is milk white and contains several large black seeds. After cutting it in half, eat it with a spoon, using the skin as a bowl. The anona is related to the custard-apple found in the northern part of the country. It has a delicate sweetness and a delightful fragrance like rose-water. Mark Twain described it as “deliciousness itself”.

Caimitos
Caimitos

Caimitos and other stars – The caimito looks just like a star when cut, similar in taste to the mangosteen (an exotic fruit found in Malaysia and Thailand). This glossy fruit varies in shade from purple to light green. The sweet flesh is usually eaten fresh, but is often made into a mixture called “matrimony”, prepared by scooping out the pulp and adding it to a glass of cour orange juice. Carambola is also a star-size fruit. It’s a little tart when raw but great in a refresco, a common drink made of juice and water or milk.

Coco (Coconut) – There is no shortage of coconuts in Costa Rica. They are found in many drinks and coconut meat is sold in most markets around the country. My advice is to try the pejibaye, a cousin of the coconut, which is smaller and different from coco in that it is the husk, not the inside meat, that is eaten- with mayonnaise.

Granadilla
Granadilla

Granadillas (Passion Fruit) – Granadillas are small, reddish passion fruit. The sweet granadilla is a favorite all over Central America. The grandadilla is oval and orange to ornage-brown. Within the hard, crisp skin a bundle of seeds is surrounded by an almost liquid, translucent and wonderfully tasteful pulp. Maracuya is a larger, yellow, baseball-size relative.

Guanabana (Soursop) - Related to the anona, the guanabana is a football-size fruit with white flesh inside. It is unrivaled for its use in sherbets and refreshing beverages. Tourists find the flavor somewhat suggestive of a combination of pineapple and mango. It is also popular as a refresco and tastes good when combined with milk.
Guayaba
Guayaba

Guayaba (Guava) – Guayaba is a tasty treat. It’s different from guayabada, which is a thick guava paste.

Loquat – The loquat is a small, oval-shaped fruit with a large seed, pale-yellow to orange in color. The flesh, firm and meaty in some varieties, melting in others, is juicy and of a sprightly acid flavor. Although commonly eaten fresh, it can also be used in cooking.

Mango – Costa Rican mangos are best when ripe (yellow-orange), or try them green, sliced, and topped with lime and salt. Besides eating them as dessert fruits, Ticos make mangoes into chutney – that spicy sauce well-known to those who enjoy East Indian food – as well as preserves, sauces, and pies.

Maranon (Cashew Fruit) – Maranon is the fruit that comes from the cashew tree. An exotic cousin of the mango, the cashew fruit is best known for the kidney-shaped nut attached to its lower end. The fleshy portion, or apple, varying in color from brilliant yellow to flame-scarlet, is eaten fresh. Its superb color and penetrating, almost pungent aroma make this one of the most delectable of all tropical fruits. The flesh is yellow, soft, very juicy, and zesty. It is also used to make a jam, a wine, and a refreshing beverage similar to lemonade, which retains the special aroma and flavor of the unique fruit. Beware, if the seeds are not roasted before eating, they are poisonous.

Mora (Blackberries) – Mora are quite popular mixed with ice and milk to make batida.

Nanzi – This small, round yellow fruit has been popular among Ticos since pre-Columbian times, but foreigners tend to find its smell too strong. It is used for preserves, wines, and jellies. Nances en guaro (nanzis in
Rambutan aka mamechinos- They're not that big, Skin and all about the size of a small plum.
Rambutan aka mamechinos- They're not that big, Skin and all about the size of a small plum.
liqueur) are very good. Bottled in a strong liqueur and left to ferment for nine months, they take on an amber-brown color. Nanzi sherbets are also very popular.

Papaya - Papaya grows everywhere in Costa Rica, and most tourists are particularly enamored of a drink called papaya en leche (in milk), a sort of papaya milkshake. Papaya is also excellent as a meat tenderizer.

Pejibaye, this is a tasty soup.
Pejibaye, this is a tasty soup.

Pejibaye – Pejibaye has a glossy orange skin and black stripes, resembling a large acorn. Cooked and peeled, its yellow pulp tastes very good when a little mayonnaise is added to it to soften its rather dry texture. It cannot be eaten fresh. Pejbaye soup is one of the most exceptional dished of Costa Rican nouvelle cousine and is highly recommended by this writer.

Pina (Pineapple) – Pineapple is quite common in Costa Rica and very tasty here. It’s ripe when you can pluck a leaf.

Rambutan – Sometimes called “hairy lychees”, the rambutan look like goose-berries covered in fleshy spines. To eat them, simply cut the leathery rind with a sharp knife and pull back from the pulp.

Rose-apple – The rose-apple is a beautiful round fruit, whitish green to apricot-yellow in color and perfumed with the scent of rose. The flesh is crisp, juicy, and sweet. As a preserve or crystallized, it is delicious. If you eat it fresh, don’t over indulge, as rose-apples are best in small quantities. A relative of the rose-apple, the ohia or mountain-apple is a beautiful oval fruit, white to crimson in color. Its flesh is apple-like: crisp, white, and juicy. Ohia jam is also very nice.

Zapote
Zapote

Sapodilla – One of the best fruits of tropical America is the sapodilla or naseberry, here called chicozapote or nispero. It is a dessert fruit, rarely cooked or preserved in any way. The French botanist Descourtilz describe it as having ghe “sweet perfumes of honey, jasmine, and lily of the valley.

Tamarindo (Tamarind) – Tamarindo is the fruit from the pod of a tamarind tree. It is often used as a spice or to make refrescos. A tamarindo refresco is similar in color and taste to apple juice. It is made from the seed pod of the tamarind tree. The seeds are put into hot water to wash off the sticky tamarind and then are mixed with sugar and water.

Zapote – A relative of the sapodilla, the mammee-sapota or marmalade-plum (zapote) kept Cortes and his army alive on their famous march from Mexica City to Honduras. The bright salmon-red color of the pulp catches the eyes of tourists walking the Avenida Central in San Jose. Very ripe zapotes are used to make the most wonderful ice creams and sherbets.

Hope this helps, and you will NOT be disappointed with the fruit in Costa Rica. You may never eat meat AGAIN!

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