This post was originally written for and published on Colombia Eco Travel.
Colombia’s biodiversity is found not only in its many microclimates but also in its markets and on its menus. In North America, your juice choices are apple, orange, or cranberry, but in Colombia you can try a new flavor every time you go out if you’re daring enough. This is thanks to Colombia’s wide array of exotic fruits. Eventually I climbed out of my pineapple, strawberry, and mango rut and started pointing at the fruits I didn’t know how to pronounce. If you’re traveling in Colombia, I hope this guide to the country’s fruits inspires you to do the same.
The guanábana is large, spiky, and green. When cut open, you’ll find a slimy mess of white fruit. Colombians enjoy this fruit as a juice – the taste is mild and unlike anything I can think to compare it to. You’ll have to try it for yourself, and this sorbet recipe by Epicurious would make a tasty introduction.
Maracuyá is a yellow and wrinkly passion fruit that tastes like a Sour Patch Kid. It is a popular yogurt, ice cream, and juice flavor. My favorite maracuyá concoction was a refreshing maracuyá mojito in Santa Marta from Lulo Café.
Granadilla is also in the passion fruit family. It’s sweeter and less tart than Maracuyá making it better to eat alone. Break open the skin to find the gooey seeds inside. I can’t quite get over the texture of this one or the strong suspicion that the seeds are alien eggs, but they’re easily one of the most popular fruits in the country.
This fruit translates to banana passion fruit, and the curuba is the national fruit of Colombia. Bogotastic wrote a clear tutorial on making your own curuba juice here. Don’t forget to strain out the seeds as she recommends; they are exceptionally sour!
Lulo, like Maracuyá, can also be on the sour side, so it’s usually served as a juice with sugar (sensing a theme?). The distinct citrus flavor makes it perfect for hot days. Erika of My Colombian Recipes explains how to make the perfect Lulada – a popular juice of lulos and limes.
In English, we call this fruit a yellow dragon fruit. You can scoop out the white filling and black seeds with a spoon and eat. They’re not incredibly common because they’re more expensive than most of the other fruits mentioned on this list. Pitahaya is related to cacti, but don’t worry – they taste more like melons.
Tomate de Árbol
I first bought this tomato at the market thinking it was similar to a regular tomato, but when I sliced it up for sandwiches, the skin was tough, and the pulp was surprisingly sweet. As it turns out, this tomato is traditionally served juiced with cinnamon. I first had the juice on the Caribbean coast.
This small, yellow fruit is in the tomato family, and they’re native to the Andes. They’re sweet with a tangy citrus aftertaste. Uchuvas are regarding by nutritionists as a superfood and is even anti-parasitic. Kaffe Florida in Manizales serves an uchuva pie – a gluttonously delightful way to obtain all those antioxidant benefits. One word of warning: despite what I thought was a good idea at the time, they are not so delicious in a yogurt-based smoothie - ack!
These are only a handful of the exotic fruits found in Colombia, so when you come to visit make sure to try them all and let me know what you think.