One of the first strange things I noticed in Mexico was the Mexican fruit. It happened upon my trip to a Mexican supermarket. There were definitely a lot of items I didn’t recognize, especially coming from a colder Canadian climate.
But becoming educated about the different kinds of Mexican and tropical fruit was definitely the fun part and I now have expanded my tastes to something a bit more exotic.
If you haven’t ever heard or tried these different Mexican fruits, see if one of these appeal to you:
A little strange looking, Rambutan fruit is red and hairy. You’ll usually find this in the southern states of Mexico and each one is about the size of a golf ball.
You might even see these little fruits being sold in wheelbarrows. They are usually sold in bags and taste remarkably sweet, very similar to lychees.
The best way to eat these little rambutan gems is to cut the fruit in half and suck on the inside. The inside of the fruit has a big seed and it’s not recommended to swallow or eat the seed.
Mexicans also turn Rambutans into a fruit juice by adding water. It’s a very refreshing way to get your rambutan quota.
2. Mexican Limes
Ok so the Mexican Lime isn’t the most exotic of the fruits but boy, is it plentiful. You’ll see limes everywhere in Mexico and they tend to be a bit smaller than in Canada.
Once you get used to the idea you’ll find that the Mexican lime increases flavor in just about everything you eat and is one of the staples of the Mexican diet.
Papayas are known in Canada and the US but very popular in Mexico.
The fruit is salmon or light orange and in Mexico they can grow up to 15 pounds. I find people either really love or don’t love Papayas. I personally, don’t love papayas as they have a unique taste that I’m not fond of but many swear by the taste.
Papayas do have a unique smoky aftertaste. Try squeezing some lime on them too to change the flavour slightly.
The best way to eat a Mexican papaya is to peel it and cut it in half. Then scoop out the black seeds (don’t eat them) and cut and quarter the rest.
4. Pitahaya or Dragon Fruit
Pitahaya or Dragon Fruit is a Mexican fruit that’s pretty popular due to it’s short growing season.
It’s generally available in the summer months around April to July. Dragon fruit is sweet and a little bit crunchy but very tasty. The taste is can be likened to the same as kiwi fruit.
Dragon fruit is cultivated now in many tropical areas including Asia and Australia but is native to Central America and Mexico. It’s about as big as a small ball and growns on a cactus. The inside is similar to a kiwi in that the tiny black seeds can be swallowed. The rest of the fruit is white.
Mexico is a prime growing area for mangos and they can be found everywhere. In ice cream, salads and desserts. I personally like mangos a lot and think they are a Mexican superfruit!
The flesh of a mango is orange-yellow, juicy and sweet. They’re also rich in vitamins and fibre.
The best way to eat a mango is simply peel the outside and eat the inside in small pieces. Make a mango smoothie or a mango cocktail, the choice is yours with this versatile fruit.
Guanabana is a bit of a weird looking fruit similar in shape to a pear. It’s usually dark green and has big thorns. But don’t let the look of it on the outside turn you off.
It has a citrusy smell and tastes like a combination of oranges, bananas and strawberries. It’s a very unique taste so make sure you give it a try. In this case, the seeds aren’t edible so don’t eat them.
Guanabana is said to have many health benefits but try it just for the fruit itself.
The best way to eat Guanabana is to peel or cut the skin and eat the flesh inside. Eat is on its own or make a smoothie. It’s a versatile fruit that can also be made into an agua fresca or fruit water.
Guanabana can be found in most Mexican grocery stores and is grown mostly in tropical areas of Mexico such as Jalisco state.
7. Zapote Negro
Yes it is called the fruit that looks like “chocolate pudding” but looks can be deceiving. This a strange looking fruit and like nothing we would find in the United States or Canada.
Black Sapote is found in tropical areas only which is why we Canadians have probably never seen nor heard of it. It’s the kind of fruit that is best eaten when it looks like it’s gone a bit bad, therefore the “black” name.
Best time to eat it is when the outside is dark and looks slightly bruised so probably wouldn’t be a fruit you would gravitate to in the supermarket.
Don’t eat black sapote thinking you are going to taste chocolate. I made that mistake when I first tried mole sauce many years ago and was utterly disgusted by the taste. (That’s another story!) However I do love the flavor now. So keep an open mind.
Black Sapote tastes way more like prunes with caramel and honey overtones. Not chocolate but definitely interesting and tasty.
How do you eat Zapote Negro? Just scoop out the insides and take out the seeds. Maybe add a bit of ice cream or whipped cream? There ya go! A healthy and interesting dessert.
Pomengranates are not the most exotic fruits because you can frequently find them in your supermarkets in Canada or the US. But they are very popular in Mexico.
As with many Mexican fruits and plants, pomegranates came to Mexico with the Spanish Conquistadors and now are widely produced.
The season for pomegranates is generally the final 4 or 5 months of the year.
The best way to eat pomegranates is cutting off the top and simply cutting slices in the sides. Then you can open up the fruit and see all the seeds inside. All the lovely red and juicy flesh is around the seeds so you will do a lot of spitting of seeds. But the tastes of pomegranates are sweet and very flavorful.
9. Mamey sapote
Not to be confused with the darker zapote negro (above), however mamey sapote is another “winter” fruit native to Mexico.
The Mamey is fuzzy and is a similar salmon color to papaya. It is not a sweet fruit but tastes a bit like apricots.
The best way to eat mamey sapote is to add it to desserts and smoothie shakes.
10. Tuna Fruit (Prickly Pear)
This tuna fruit has nothing to do with fish although at first you may think so.
It’s kind of a weird looking fruit and from the outside doesn’t seem too appetizing, especially because it has a bunch of coarse hair all over it.
The texture is quite crunchy a lot like a pear or apple.
The best way to eat tuna fruit is simply to peel it and eat. It’s used in many places where apples or pears would be used.
I remember when I first saw “tuna” ice cream in Mexico and pretty much almost gagged. Although I now realize it’s made as a creamy sorbet and is actually pretty tasty so don’t let the name fool you!
Coconuts are not quite as exotic as the other fruits, most of us are familiar with them but they are definitely not grown in our colder climates.
Contrary to popular thought, coconuts are a fruit as well as a nut.
You’ll find coconuts in most tropical places in Mexico with many vendors cutting them and poking a straw in for a coconut water drink. The flesh is served in cups with lime and chilis and makes a healthy snack.
The best coconut ice cream I had was at a roadside stand while driving the Maya Riviera. It was so good that all these years later, I’ve never found anything to live up to it although pretty close at times!
So what do you think? Have I missed any important ones? Let me know in the comments.
And if you’re interested in checking out the drinks made from the cactus, check out Tequila vs. Mezcal.