At the height of summer, there’s nothing better than a bowl of chilled fruit salad to refresh and cool off – but don’t you get bored of having the same old fruits every time? Well, if you do, here are, alphabetically, 20 of the most weird fruits you probably haven’t heard of, for you to use instead!
Here Goes the List: 20 Most Weird Fruits (Arranged Alphabetically)
1 – African Cucumber, aka Melano or ‘Horned Melon’ – Found around the Kalahari desert and now grown in New Zealand and California as well, this fruit looks like a yellow melon with small horns all over the rind, rather like those of a ridge cucumber. The dark green pulp with large white seeds is a popular decoration on food and made into sundaes and smoothies, and has a taste described as reminiscent of limes, cucumber, bananas and passion fruit, all at once!
2 – Buddha’s Hand or ‘Fingered Citron’ – this fruit got its names because it resembles a hand with fingers! It is seedless and grows on a shrubby small tree with oblong leaves in the Himalayas. High in vitamin C and used in cooking wherever you would otherwise use lemons, it will keep in a fridge for a couple of weeks. To the Chinese it is a symbol of happiness and longevity, and the Japanese believe it will bring good fortune to the household where it is given as a New Year’s gift.
3 – Cherimoya or ‘Custard Apple’ – This South American fruit has a rough skin but on the inside it has a custard-like substance that is sweet and often eaten from the rind with a spoon (although the inedible seeds should be spat out). It is used as an ice-cream or sherbet, and in soft drinks, sauces and fruit salads. The tree has scented flowers and fleshy green petals.
4 – Dragon fruit – This Mexican/South American fruit has to be one of the most spectacularly weird fruits to look at – it comes in several varieties but the most popular, the strawberry pear or pitaya, has a strawberry-red rind dotted with small green leaves, a bright fuchsia-pink zest and white flesh filled with tiny black seeds. Dragon fruits are used for juice and wine, and a tea is made from the edible flowers.
5 – Durian – now THIS is a weird fruit, and quite possibly the weirdest in the world! It is roughly pear-shaped, has a spiny, hard husk, and stinks to high heaven – the odour is has been compared to sewage, or skunk spray! This has caused the fruit to be banned in public places in its native Southeast Asia. However, the Durian, aka ‘the king of fruits’, apparently has a taste that is so delicious that it is worth putting up with the smell! Perhaps if you eat dessert with a peg on your nose …?!
6 – Jabotacaba – A type of guava, Jabotacaba fruits are plum-sized but otherwise look like black grape clusters on their trees in Brazil. Jabotacaba berries have a slightly tough skin but can be eaten as they come, or used in any dishes and drinks that call for berry fruits.
7 – Jackfruit – A very large fruit found all over Asia and Australia, the knobbly green Jackfruit’s juicy pulp tastes a lot like a mild pineapple and is used a great deal in Asian cuisine.
8 – Lamut or Sapodilla – Originally from Mexico and the Yucatan, this fruit is about the size and look of a potato, and its flavour (when ripe) is absolutely gorgeous – it has been compared to caramel or cotton candy. The seeds look like large black beans but should not be swallowed as they have a hook at one end that can catch in the throat. Lamut fruit are unusual in that they will only ripen *after* they have been picked.
9 – Langsat – At first glance the leathery brown skin of this egg-shaped fruit makes it look more like a new potato! Inside, however, it has translucent white flesh like a lychee which tastes a lot like grapefruit and is quite acidic until it is very ripe, when it sweetens. A couple of inches/5cm or so across, this fruit grows in clusters of up to thirty at a time in its native Malaysia and much of Southeast Asia (plus Hawaii, with human help)
10 – Mangosteen – Growing on an evergreen tree in Malaysia and Indonesia, the mangosteen fruit is purple-skinned with dark red creamy flesh surrounding a cluster of five white nut-like seeds. The taste is described as ‘citrus, but with a touch of peach’ and it has even been suggested that the anti-oxidant-rich fruit might help lower the risk of such diseases as cancer.
11 – Meyer Lemon – very popular with chefs, the Meyer Lemon is used wherever you’d use an ordinary lemon, from desserts and drinks to sauces and marmalade. It is considered better than the standard variety because it has more juice, a milder, less acidic flavour, thinner zest, and a cleaner, smoother skin. It is orangey-gold in colour and is named after Frank Meyer, who brought it to the US from China in the early twentieth century.
12 – Pummelo, aka ‘Chinese Grapefruit’ or Shaddock – This is the largest of the citrus fruit family, being the size of a melon (or bigger!) with a thick greeny-yellow rind, strong segmentation in the red or white flesh and a flavour likened to a sweetened grapefruit. They are often given by the Chinese as a New Year gift as they believe them to be a sign of good luck, prosperity – and fertility.
13 – Rambutan – This popular Malaysian fruit is covered with spines on a red, leathery skin, but the fruit inside looks like a lychee. The trees are found in many gardens in Southeast Asia and the fruit is juicy and sweet – it is often found in cans out there and makes a very good jam!
14 – Rose Apple or Champoo – This strange South Asian fruit is of great interest because it actually does taste and smell just like roses. The fruits are bell shaped and are crunchy and crisp when just picked, but unfortunately spoil very quickly once picked so are not usually seen for sale. Like an apple, it can be eaten in its entirety, but most consumers tend to leave the core uneaten.
15 – Salak or Snake-fruit – The brown scales on the skin of these Malaysian/Indonesian fruits earned them their nickname, but otherwise they look pretty much like figs, growing in clusters around the base of a palm tree. Relatively easily peeled, Salak flesh consists of three lobes that look like garlic bulbs and tastes acidic and sweet at the same time.
16 – Santol – Santol fruit is very popular in the Philippines (especially with the kids!) but is actually native to Malaysia. It looks like an apple but doesn’t taste like one – the flesh is actually very sweet and very popular as a marmalade. It’s often known as the ‘lolly fruit’ since the flesh is very firmly attached to the seed and has to be sucked off.
17 – Soursop or Guanabana – A native of northern South America and all points north up to Mexico, Guanabana is also now being grown in Southern Asia. It has a creamy white pulp with a delicious flavour reminiscent of a mix of pineapple and strawberry, but great patience is needed to enjoy it because of the inedible seeds that seem to be everywhere within the green pinecone-like rind.
18 – Sugar Apple or Noi-na – A great favourite in its native Thailand, this fruit has a bumpy green rind that makes it look like an oversized green raspberry. Inside, it has a very sweet, creamy pale flesh that can be eaten with a spoon, and whose most popular use is blended with coconut milk to make a gorgeous light ice-cream. It’s touted as a ‘must try’ when visiting Thailand!
19 – Ugli Fruit, aka Uniq fruit or Tangelo – Taking the prize for the weirdest name, this melon-sized citrus fruit has a thick, wrinkled, mottled green and yellow rind that nevertheless is easy to remove, and thick membranes between the sections; however, the flesh is juicy and sweet and worth the effort to get at it! It is easiest to eat cut like a grapefruit (whose flavour it resembles, although without the tartness). It goes well in chicken dishes and fruit salads.
20 – Yuzu, or Japanese citron – This oriental citron fruit has a orangey-yellow skin and a tangy taste somewhere between grapefruit and mandarin. Its essence is used in perfumes, soaps, etc and it is popular as a garnish in Japanese cooking.
Wouldn’t you just love to try a fruit salad made of all the above named weird fruits?!