Our world is a weird, wild and wonderful place. Even after all our years of human exploration and scientific exploits, we are still discovering dozens of new plant and animal species each and every year. Edible foods are no exception. To feed your inquisitive minds, we’ve rounded up 10 of the funkiest and most exotic fruits to ever grace serving table around the globe.
Now, we’re not saying that these alien-looking fruits are new discoveries, but unless you’re an extensive traveller they might as well be for many of us! Many of them are found in only specific parts of the world.
Even if you’re a self professed foodie, we would be very impressed if at least a couple of the following list of fruits don’t come as a surprise to you – especially #9. The first person to put that rotten-looking thing in their mouth was definitely a brave soul!
#1 – Buddha’s Hand
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Grown on small shrubs in India and China, the Buddha’s Hand is also known as the Fingered Citron, and aptly so. It’s a citrus variety of fruit and is deliciously fragrant.
It has a thick peel and a seedless flesh similar to lemons, but is juiceless. The fruit is commonly used to make marmalade and liquors. To eat it, simply slice the Hand lengthwise and eat it with the rind.
#2 – African Cucumber
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Referred to as a kiwano or ‘horned melon’ because of its horn-like spines, it’s other (and cuter) nickname is the cuke-asaurus. When ripe, the fruit has a yellow-orange outer skin and a lime-green jelly flesh inside, with a texture similar to cucumbers.
It tastes like a combination of sweet cucumber mixed with zucchini, and has a slightly tart aftertaste. You can even eat the peel as well, as it is very rich in both Vitamin C and fibre.
#3 – Black Sapote
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Also called the Chocolate Pudding Fruit, this delicious fruit is found in Central and South America. From the outside, it looks like a dark green tomato, although it’s skin is not edible. Inside however is a pulp that turns from white (when unripe) to a deep, chocolatey colour, flavour and texture.
Many people compare eating the Black Sapote to having the taste and consistency of chocolate pudding. It’s got a slightly nutty taste and with a little cream pairs well with red wine. Just don’t forget to remove the seeds!
#4 – Durian Fruit
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Known as the ‘King of Fruits’ in Southeast Asia, the Durian fruit is a formidable looking thing. Its known for its large size, intimidating thorny shell, and most notably…its smell. There’s no nice way to put this, but its smell is revolting. Imagine the smell of old gym socks or sewage, and you’ll come pretty close! Once you get past that however, its inner flesh tastes simply delicious – like a rich custard with a strong hint of almonds.
#5 – Monstera Deliciosa
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With a name that sounds like a Harry Potter spell, this unusual fruit is native to the rain forests of South America. Popular both as a food and as a houseplant, this monster plant’s fruit looks like a green ear of corn covered in hexagonal scales, and releases a pungent odor when it ripens. The texture and taste of the Deliciosa is similar to that of a sweet pineapple.
#6 – Physalis
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This exotic fruit is found enclosed in a large papery husk that looks like some sort of magical lantern. The physalis actually belongs in the tomato family and has a similar texture and level of acidity as its popular cousin. Once you remove the fruit from its husk, it can either be consumed raw as a great source of provitamin A, and also work as great additions to your fruit salad.
#7 – Sugar Apple
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The sugar apple has many names, including custard apple, atis, cherimoya, and sweetsop. The fruit is packed with hard seeds, with anywhere from 20-38 seeds per fruit. It may sound like a chore to eat one of these things, but its tastiness more than makes up for it. The best way to describe its flavour is to picture a cross between a pineapple and a banana. Mark Twain once even referred to it as the most delicious fruit known to men.
#8 – Rambutan
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Rambutan literally translates to ‘hairy’ in Malay. One look at this red fruit in person, and its easy to see why. Once you get past its funky exterior and peel the rambutan, inside is a tender, juicy fruit with a sweet and sour taste thats slightly grape-like. It is native to many parts of South and East Asia.
#9 – Wood Apple
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Used in both medicines and foods, the tree that wood apples grow on is considered sacred to Hindus. Also known as gael these fruits get their name from their wooden, rock-hard shells. They’re so hard that the only way to crack them is with a hammer or machete!
Inside, its brownish color gives it a rotting appearance. Despite the unattractive look, wood apples taste delicious – similar to raisins and tamarind jam. It’s quite versatile too, and can be eaten raw, frozen like ice cream, or also blended with other fruit juices.
#10 – Snake Fruit
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The Snake Fruit, or Salak, gets its name from its outer scaly appearance. It can also be as prickly as a cactus if you’re not careful. Once you get past its red-brown, scaly skin, inside is a juicy fruit thats as sweet as honey and as sour as a pineapple. As you can imagine, that combination of opposites makes for an amazing treat to the taste buds. But be careful! Eating too many snake fruits in one sitting has been known to cause constipation.