10 Weird Fruits and Vegetables From Around the World
Wondering about that strange-looking food in your local produce section? Here’s your guide to 10 weird fruits and vegetables from around the world
No, it’s not a funky artichoke-this heart-shaped fruit native to South America is a cherimoya, also referred to as a “custard apple.” While it may be rough and bumpy on the outside, the actual fruit flesh is smooth and creamy, like custard. Described by Mark Twain as “deliciousness itself,” a ripe cherimoya blends flavours of pineapple and banana. Can’t find it in your grocery store? Bottled water brand Aquafina now makes a Tropical Cherimoya flavoured water.
It may look like a giant grapefruit, but the pummelo is more than meets the eye. Hailing from Asia, the super-sized fruit has an ultra-thick skin that gives way to a fresh, citrusy flesh. Sweeter than your typical grapefruit, this widely-available gem makes a great breakfast side, salad topper, or fruit salad add-in.
Similar in size to a plum, with the flavour of a grape, this fruit-often called the Brazilian tree grape-is unique because of its strange growing habits. Unlike most fruit, which grows on a vine, jabuticaba grows directly on the trunk and branches of the Jabuticaba tree. The fruit can be picked and eaten raw, made into jelly, or fermented to make wine.
4. Kiwano melon
It may look like something from outer space (and, in fact, it once made an appearance on Star Trek), but the Kiwano melon is actually grown in Southern Africa, California and New Zealand. Nicknamed the “horned melon,” its yellow, stubby exterior encases a bright green, jelly-like fruit with edible seeds. The fruit has a citrusy flavour that some liken to a mix of cucumber, lime and banana.
Is it cauliflower? Is it broccoli? You may find references to both, but this strange veggie deserves its own recognition. It’s hard not to be captivated by the intricate appearance of this “fractal food,” with its bright green colour and perfect spirals. Some describe the taste as a blend of broccoli and cauliflower with a hint of nutty flavour. But don’t let its complex appearance intimidate you-it can be cooked up easily, just like you would cauliflower and broccoli. Look for it at your local farmers’ market.
6. Ugli fruit
This tropical gem from Jamaica really lives up to its name-it’s admittedly not much to look at. But the flavour of this teardrop-shaped fruit makes up for its unfortunate outer appearance. Segmented like an orange, the ugli fruit tastes like a mix of tangerine and grapefruit. You can eat it raw, or give it a squeeze for a refreshing citrus juice.
7. Dragon fruit
It won’t be hard to spot this attention-grabbing fruit at the grocery store, thanks to its bright pink outer skin and green scales. Native to Central and South America, the dragon fruit-also known as the pitaya-may also be spotted with a yellow skin. Apart from being juicy and refreshing, the dragon fruit is a good source of fibre and vitamin C. The fruit has a light flavour, like a pear, with crunchy black seeds like a kiwi. And despite its wild appearance, when it comes to actually eating a dragon fruit, there is no special skill set required-just chop it in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon, or cut it into pieces and add to a summer salad.
8. Purple sweet potato
Don’t adjust your screen-this unique spud is, in fact, purple. Native to Okinawa, Japan (and often referred to as “Okinawan sweet potato”), this uniquely coloured veggie is also a big hit in Hawaii. The fun thing about the purple sweet potato is that it provides an element of surprise-you don’t realize just how cool it is until you peel back the skin. Like its regular sweet potato counterpart, the purple sweet potato is a good source of vitamins A and C. And since its such a versatile food-it is a potato, after all-you can use it to create some eye-catching dishes that are sure to impress at your next dinner party. Look for it at your local Asian market.
Dubbed the “king of fruits,” durian is the kind of food that people either love or hate. Everything about the durian-from its spiky skin to its terrible smell (it’s actually banned in some public places in Singapore due to its unpleasant odour)-will make you think twice about giving it a try. But for those who dare, the reward is a creamy, custard-like fruit with a unique blend of flavours that some durian lovers have compared to banana and vanilla, with a hint of onion. Whether you’re a fan of this truly exotic fruit or not, there’s no denying that eating one is an experience all its own.
If you’re wondering what that strange-looking cross between asparagus and cactus is doing in your salad, don’t fret-it’s probably just samphire. Also known as salicornia, sea asparagus or sea beans, samphire is available in two varieties: rock and marsh. Though it grows easily in the wild, it can also be cultivated in saltwater farms. A dazzling shade of green with a salty flavour, marsh samphire is a crunchy veg can be eaten raw or steamed, depending on your taste. Check for them at your local farmers’ market and specialty food store.