When it comes to fruit in American supermarkets, there tend to be a few classics that can always be found. Strawberries, bananas, grapes, apples, watermelons — these are the sorts of things that we see all the time. But there’s a whole world of fruit out there, and these American favorites don’t even scratch the surface. Let’s take a look at some of the more bizarre varieties on offer…
For some people, the scent of durian is a delight. For the vast majority, however, the fruit is one of the most foul-smelling things imaginable. Richard Sterling, a food writer, has likened its stench to “turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock.” He also noted it’s so powerful you can smell it from a distance.
Breadfruit is a culinary favorite across south-east Asia and the Pacific island nations. And why wouldn’t it be? When you cook it up nicely, after all, it apparently tastes like bread that’s recently been removed from the oven. Some people, however, say it has a similar taste to potatoes. In any case, not many American fruits are remotely like it.
3. Banana passionfruit
Bananas are great, and so is passionfruit. Combining them, then, must be a winner? Sadly, the banana passionfruit isn’t some miraculous hybrid of the two fruits. Rather, it’s very closely related to the standard passionfruit, but it happens to resemble a banana from the outside. It still tastes nice and sweet, though.
The annatto plant originally comes from South America, and it has some interesting uses. Otherwise known as the lipstick plant, the annatto produces seeds that contain a vivid red pigment. This has traditionally been utilized to dye clothes, but nowadays you’re more likely to see it used as food coloring.
Ramphal has the unfortunate nickname of bullock’s heart, because, well, that’s what it looks like. Try not to be put off by that, though, because the fruit is actually delicious. Grown across parts of India, ramphal is definitely sweet, though not overwhelmingly so. It also has great health benefits.
Despite a slight resemblance to the standard tomato, tamarillos are very much in a category of their own. Originally grown in Central America, these little fruits can now be found across Asia and Australasia. Their sharp flavors go great in so many dishes, whether they’re sweet or of the savory variety.
7. Attap chee
The nipa palm is a remarkable plant. A sap used in alcoholic drinks can be extracted from its flowers, while its seeds make for a great accompaniment for desserts. These are known as attap seeds — with “chee” translating from Chinese dialects as “seed” — and they’re sweet and jellylike. You’ll find them in places like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.
Araza comes from Peru and Brazil, where it’s used to enhance all sorts of drinks, preservatives, and treats. You’d be crazy to eat it on its own, though, as it’s insanely bitter. Acidity-wise, it’s almost as sour as a lemon, which is some feat. There aren’t many fruits with a lower pH value out there.
Much like the humble tomato, the ackee can often be confused as a vegetable. In actual fact, it’s a fruit — and an important one for Jamaican people. The ackee is their country’s national fruit, and it plays a prominent part within their national meal. This is basically ackee served with saltfish.
As citrus fruits go, the pomelo is up there with the biggest. It’s in the same family as grapefruit, but it actually tastes a little sweeter than its cousin. Some people refer to it as the Chinese grapefruit, given that it traces back to that country. It’s also traditionally been found to grow in Malaysia and Thailand.
The rambutan thrives in a tropical climate, usually found in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. It’s extremely eye-catching, resembling some sort of exotic sea creature rather than a piece of fruit. The taste of its white, fleshy interior is fittingly exciting: sweet, but with a little bit of a sharp edge.
Of all the species of palm tree across South America, the aguaje is among the most common. The tree’s fruit plays a really important role as a source of food for plenty of jungle animals, including a whole bunch of monkeys and birds. The aguaje fruit is rich in vitamins and has a whole host of health benefits for those that eat it.
13. Swiss cheese plant
With a nickname like “Swiss cheese plant,” the fruit of Monstera deliciosa gets a pretty bad wrap. Especially when we consider the reality. As horrible as the nickname makes it seem, the taste is actually meant to be extremely delicious. In fact, that’s how it picked up its Latin species name of “deliciosa.”
The langsat fruit originally came from the west of Malaysia, but it’s become popular in surrounding countries, too. They usually come in clusters, with each one measuring little more than an inch or two. When they haven’t quite ripened, they taste pretty bitter. The more they mature, though, the sweeter they get.
15. Wood apple fruit
The fruit of the wood apple tree isn’t the most appetizing. It looks as though it’s rotting, and its stench isn’t much better. But there’s a reason it’s so popular in places such as Sri Lanka and India. Its tart taste goes well in a whole host of dishes, plus it can be made into delicious jams or juices. It can even be enjoyed raw.
16. Buddha’s hand
One of the most alien-like examples of produce out there, the Buddha’s hand is a citrus fruit. As its name suggests, it looks like it has fingers — and it’s kind of creepy because of it. Still, it smells amazing. That’s why lots of people in Japan and China are fond of placing it inside rooms to freshen them up with a nice scent.
17. Horned melon
The horned melon is barely recognizable as food, but lots of people actually enjoy eating it. It’s a close relative of the cucumber, and it has a similar mellow-but-sweet taste. Some people say there’s even a faint suggestion of banana in there, too, especially if the fruit is appropriately ripe.
18. Dragon fruit
The dragon fruit is alive with color, and its taste doesn’t disappoint, either. Picked from plants classified as cacti, the fruit can come in different varieties. Skin color can range from red to pink to yellow, while the flesh tends to be white or red. The taste is more on the sour side, but it’s very refreshing in hot weather.
19. Chocolate pudding fruit
Originating from the south of Mexico, the black sapote has the rather appetizing nickname of “chocolate pudding fruit.” And the thing is, it didn’t just pick that moniker up because its flesh looks like that sweet dessert. It actually tastes kind of chocolatey, too. It’s the fruit of which dreams are made!
The sapota originally came from Central America, but nowadays it’s enjoyed in India, too. Except there, it’s called chikoo. Whatever you call it, the fruit is part of the same family as the mango. Before it ripens, the sapota has a lot of latex in its interior. As it matures, though, this goes down.
21. Cape gooseberry
Roughly the size of a cherry, the physalis — otherwise known as the Cape gooseberry — is a very distinct yellowy-orange color. It’s really tangy and sharp to the taste, almost as if you combined a pineapple, passion fruit, gooseberry, and kiwi. It comes from South America, but it made it over to Europe by the late 18th century, and then into Africa after that.
22. Snakeskin fruit
The salacca, salak, or snakeskin fruit is a strange-looking piece of work. Grown across Southeast Asia, the fruit is absolutely loaded with nutrients. What it lacks in good looks, it more than makes up for with its healthy properties, as it’s said to be great for a person’s cognitive abilities and their eyesight.
23. Ugli fruit
It doesn’t take a lot to figure out how the ugli fruit got its name — it’s not the prettiest. Kind of wrinkly and hard-looking, this native Jamaican citrus fruit is actually thought to be a hybrid of the pomelo and the tangerine. That actually makes it sound pretty good, despite its unsavory appearance.
24. Hala fruit
Hala fruit can only really be found across the Pacific Islands, but it’s worth a try if you can ever find it. It can be eaten raw, or it can be boiled and grated, or mashed up into a sort of paste. Its hard edges can even serve as dental floss, if the need arises. As for the taste, it’s said to be kind of like mango mixed with sugarcane.
The atemoya thrives in the tropical parts of Central and South America. The fruit is kind of shaped like a heart, and it has a green exterior. Inside, the flesh is white and dotted with dark seeds. The taste is sweet with a slight bitter punch, almost with hints of pineapple and vanilla.
Shaped like — you guessed it — a star, the starfruit can be big or small. The larger variety is on the sweeter side, compared with its more bitter, smaller counterpart. It originates from Sri Lanka and the Maluku Islands of Indonesia, but it’s been grown across Malaysia and China for hundreds of years now.
27. Noni fruit
It’s a wonder how people started eating the noni fruit. It looks bizarre, and it smells absolutely foul. People don’t call it the “vomit fruit” for nothing. But for millennia human beings have eaten it, as it’s prized for its medical qualities. Today you can pick it up in powdered form, or as a pill or tea.
28. Kepel fruit
Kepel is a big deal in the Indian state of Kerala. The fruit is enjoyed for its mango-like flavor, but it’s in the smell where it really excels. Nicknamed the “perfume fruit,” the kepel smells amazing and is even used to freshen up people’s breath or to cover up bad body odor. It also reportedly boasts a bunch of other health benefits.
The cupuaçu is Brazil’s national fruit. It’s very similar to cacao, and has a chocolatey taste with little flashes of sweet fruits such as pineapple or melon. As you’d imagine, it works great in desserts, but it’s also good as a juice. A handy cooking fat can also be extracted from the seeds.
While the South-American lulo fruit is quite closely related to the tomato, its taste is quite different. It’s sharp and citrusy, almost as if you mixed lime with rhubarb. The fruit can be squeezed to produce a nice green juice, which is a refreshing drink in its own right.
31. Makrut limes
Makrut limes aren’t like their more common counterparts. They’re even more bitter than the limes most of us know, and they have a bumpier, more textured exterior. The fruit itself smells great and tends to be used in cleaning products, while its leaves are used in plenty of south-east Asian meals.
32. Mouse melon
Perhaps the best way to describe a mouse melon is to say it’s like a hybrid of a watermelon and cucumber. It’s in the same family as the latter, though it does look like a tiny version of the former. It originally comes from Central America and Mexico, but it can be picked up in the United States today if you look hard enough.
33. Jabuticaba berries
Jabuticaba berries are strange little things. Found in certain parts of Brazil, they only grow for a limited number of weeks each year. When they do thrive, they tend to cover entire tree trunks, rather than dangling off leaves as you might expect. They taste quite sweet and tangy, not dissimilar to grapes.
34. Gac fruit
Indigenous to Vietnam, gac fruit have quite a vivid orange color when ripe, but they taste more mellow than their appearance might suggest. The soft flesh is pretty mild, a little like a cucumber or a melon. Some people might also get a little flash of carrot flavor. In any case, they can be good for people in the mood for a more easygoing snack.
Jackfruit is a favorite for former meat-eaters trying to go veggie. That’s because it actually has a texture that’s not dissimilar to pork. Jackfruit doesn’t taste like much on its own, but it absorbs the flavor of any sauce in which it’s prepared. So, if you cook it in BBQ sauce, it’s a great treat.
Basically a miniature orange in appearance, the kumquat comes from south-east Asia. It’s roughly the same size as an olive, and the taste is definitely more bitter than a regular orange. On the other hand, it doesn’t compare to the bitterness of, say, a lemon. The skin is actually quite sweet, which balances out the sour-tasting interior.
Longan trees can grow in any warm part of the world, but originally they were found in Asia. The fruit develops in bunches hanging off the branches, and they don’t look all that appetizing. The skin is brown and not very eye-catching, but the taste of the flesh is actually great. It’s sweet, albeit with a sharp punch, and has the same texture as a grape.
38. Purple mangosteen
Purple mangosteens are a refreshing treat, not a million miles away from a peach or banana flavor. The white interior of this Asian fruit is nice and sweet and juicy, and can be enjoyed on its own. But it’s also great in desserts, where you can just serve it with ice cream. The flesh can also be turned into a delicious jam.
The flavor of santol fruit can vary. Some are sweet, while others are tart. The more sour ones have an almost earthy quality to their taste, whereas the sweeter ones are more like candy. The skin is fuzzy and a little like leather, starting out as green and becoming a sunny yellow when ripe.
40. Chocolate vine
The long, purple fruit of the chocolate vine plant can be consumed in a variety of ways. It can be eaten pretty much as it is, though adding a little lemon juice can go a long way. It can be mashed up into a sort of paste, which tastes a bit like coconut milk. The skin can be fried and consumed, and the leaves make for a pretty nice tea. And believe it or not, wine can even be produced from the fruit.