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February 12, 2008

Top 10 Exotic Fruit

By Meredith Thompson

When it comes to fruit, most of us are familiar with the basics: apples, bananas, berries, and the like. But what about exotic fruit? Do you avoid exotic fruit simply out of ignorance? Yeah, I used to as well.

But exotic fruit offers up bursts of new flavor and will seduce your palate into submission. So if you’re ready to take a ride on the produce wild side, here are the top 10 exotic fruit you’ll want to try.

Exotic fruit #10
Black sapote

Also referred to as black persimmon or chocolate pudding fruit (yum!), the skin of this fruit is green and the inside is black and has a moist consistency. Its flavor is chocolatey and nutty with a hint of sweetness.

Chances are you’ll buy this fruit when it is not ripe. Leave it on your kitchen counter; you’ll know it’s ripe when the skin gets darker and the fruit begins to feel mushy to the touch.

To eat it, cut the exotic fruit in half and scoop the insides out with a spoon.

Exotic fruit #9

Okay, I’m not sure how you’ll feel about this exotic fruit because, well, it stinks. But if you give it a chance, you’re sense of taste will thank you.

When selecting a ripe durian, make sure you choose one that is light and has a long, solid stem. When you shake durian, you should hear a seed moving around inside. Upon inserting your knife, it should come out sticky; the rind should split open easily.

To ease up on the smell, remove the rind and discard it (perhaps in a Ziploc bag placed in the freezer is best until garbage day comes around). Durian tastes like a vanilla custard and keep in mind that, once open, you should eat it all; this fruit goes bad quickly once sliced.

Exotic fruit #8

Sweet, thick and juicy to boot, feijoa has a great fragrance and is often referred to as pineapple guava.

Green on the outside and white to cream-colored on the inside, this is another fruit you purchase before it is ripe. Leave it on the counter until it is ripe (you will know because it becomes more and more fragrant). At this point you can put it in the fridge or slice it open and gobble it up.

Cut feijoa in half; scoop out the seeds and then the flesh. Enjoy.

Exotic fruit #7

One of the largest fruit on the planet, jackfruit has been known to hit the scales at 100 pounds, although you can probably get your hands on a slightly smaller one.

When jackfruit is ripe, it takes on a green to green-yellow skin (the skin is also prickly). The great thing about this exotic fruit is that you can eat practically all of it; the bad is that it’s really sticky, so you need to take precautions when cutting it open (plastic gloves and an apron).

Cut the fruit in half length-wise and remove the hard center. Separate the seeds from the meat of the fruit and note that the meat is thick and firm. You might want to wash and dry the fruit after cutting it, as its stickiness may get annoying otherwise.

Exotic fruit #6

With a hard, bumpy brick-colored shell and soft, mushy white insides with a big brown seed, this fruit is succulent and juicy through and through.

Because they are picked ripe, you don’t have to worry about hunting for ripeness. Using a knife or even your hands to peel off the skin, pop the lychee into your mouth and eating around the seed.

If you’ve never had a lychee before, try one in a martini; you won’t regret it.

Exotic fruit #5

From the many varieties of mango you can choose from, they all have the same, great-tasting yellow colored meaty insides.

If you purchase a mango when it’s not soft, select ones that have no bruising and firm skin. Bring it home and wrap it in a cotton cloth until it becomes ripe. Once ripe, peel it with a knife or potato peeler.

Slice pieces out around the big seed and enjoy the sweetness of this world famous fruit.

Exotic fruit #4

High in anti-oxidants and folic acid, papaya tastes great on its own or in a fruit salad.

To know when it’s ripe, papaya turns a yellow-orange color from green.

Slice the papaya in half, length-wise and check out the deep orange color. Scoop out the seeds (although bitter, the seeds are perfectly edible) and cut the papaya into chunks.

Exotic fruit #3
While it resembles a tomato, persimmons are actually very sweet-tasting fruit. With its orange peel and fleshy insides, persimmons offer a hint of spicy flavor when ripe.

To quicken the ripening process (it can take up to a week), place the exotic fruit in paper bag with an apple. Even when they ripen, though, persimmons can still be pretty firm.

To eat, you can wash the exotic fruit and eat it like an apple or remove the peel and slice it into pieces.

Exotic fruit #2
White sapote
The counterpart to black sapote, the white variety has a vanilla and caramel flavor, and creamy texture.

To tell when white sapote is ripe, it is soft to the touch. Again, leave it on the kitchen counter, checking it every now and then for ripeness. Once ripe, cut the exotic fruit in half.

There are a handful of big seeds inside the fruit; you can easily eat around them by cutting around them with a knife or spooning them out. Do not eat the skin, as it is very bitter. To enhance the flavor, you can squeeze a touch of lemon juice directly onto the meat.

Exotic fruit #1
Star fruit

Also referred to as carambola, star fruit is so called because when you cut it into slices, the pieces take on the shape of stars.

When starfruit is ripe, it is yellow all around and ready for slicing.

Wash the fruit thoroughly and cut it into slices; you can eat this exotic fruit, skin and all, as the skin is very thin.

Exotic fruit trials

Most of us tend to shy away from the unknown, but you really have nothing to lose by trying out these exotic fruit and everything to gain thanks to their intense flavors and unique textures.

So the next time you head out to the supermarket, invest in some exotic fruit and enjoy.

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