Some Fruit Are Unusual & Some Can Only Be Described As Weird Fruits. But What Are These Weird Fruit Names & Where Do They Come From?
Some weird fruits may not be totally unknown to you. It’s just that you’ve only seen the raw ingredient and never the fruit it comes from. Others are definitely very unusual and extremely uncommon in the UK. Some even get featured on stamps.
So read more to discover weird fruit names, their more common names, how we use them and where these strange fruit come from?
I’m starting with a fruit you might think you don’t know but I’m certain most readers have eaten in the last month. It’s achiote, Bixa orellana, which produces bixin. And bixin is related to carotins that colour carrots. But in this case it used to produce annatto.
Annato is a dye used as a natural food colorant. I first came across it when a young student being taught to make butter and cheese. Cheese often has annatto added to give it its rich orange/yellow colour.
It’s also used to colour foods such as crisps.
Ackee, Blighia sapida
This is the fruit from one of the soapberry tree family
It’s also known as aye, ankye, achee, akee, or ackee apple. You might have heard it as an ingredient of the Jamaican dish, Ackee and SaltFish, which is Jamaica’s national dish.
Ackee seed is available in the UK but I’ve yet to see it successfully grown here.
This is the fruit of a palm tree, Mauritia flexuosa, and is used to produce a medicinal powder used for various ailments.
Often mentioned in Japanese literature there are several species of akebia. The fruit is white fleshed nd often sweet, with a complex flavour depending on the species. Aka the chocolate vine.
There’s more info on one akebia species here.
This one is strange but known to mist of us as the pomegranate, Punica granatum.
Originally from northern India it is now common around their Mediterranean, southern USA, China etc. It’s rough tolerant and cultivated for its fruit and to make pomegranate molasses which is used as cooking ingredient in some cultures.
Black Sapote (Chocolate Pudding Fruit)
Iospyros nigra, is now grown in Australia, Florida and the Philippines. The fruit reportedly tastes like a chocolate pudding!
This is a citrus fruit with a hand like shape that is called Buddha’s hand in English, Korean, Chinese and a few other languages. In some varieties the fingers are widely stretched apart whilst in others they form a tight fist!
Carambola, Averrhoa carambola
Aka star fruit. It contains caramboxin and can adversely affect many medications so care needs to be taken when consuming it!
Cherimoya Aka Ice Cream Fruit
Annona cherimola, is. fruit I know well as I’ve eaten it on Tenerife. there it is known by its Latin name Annona. It’s probably native Peru and Ecuador but ids now grown in many tropical and semi tropical parts of the world.
A Brazilian fruit, Theobroma grandiflorum, is also known as cupuassu, cupuazú, cupu assu, and copoazu, which is used in Brazil to make desserts. It’s related to the cocoa family and can be used to make a chocolate called cupulate.
This one is another Annona species. This time, Annona reticulata. The two often get confused.
Actually the fruit of around 30 species of which nine are claimed to be edible. It’s described as the King of Fruit or extremely unpleasant depending on who is eating it. Maybe it should be called marmite fruit!
Fruit Of The Hala Aka Puhala Tree
Pandanus tectorius, aka hatch screwpine, Tahitian screwpine, Hala tre (pū hala in Hawaiian) and pandanus. The edible fruit is sometimes called Hala fruit.
Weird, but better known in the UK. aka lemon guava, apple guava and a few other names depending on the species.
Archaeological traces have been found as long ago as 2500BC in South America.
Gold, Sunrise, Rainbow and Kapoho Solo are all types of Hawaiian papaya. The Gold is only for local consumption but the others are exported. Rainbow is a F1 hybrid. It is resistant to the papaya ringspot virus disease, which was devastating the crop since the 1950s until Rainbow was introduced around the late 1990s.
Horned Melon, Cucumis metuliferus
An annual vine of the Cucurbitaceae family, aka African horned cucumber, horned melon, spiked melon, jelly melon, kiwano, or cuke-a-saurus. It grows wild in the Kalahari desert where it is sometimes the only source of water for the nomadic San people.
Elsewhere in Africa it isn a traditional food plant available in shops!
Jabuticaba is unusual in that it grows direct on the trunks of trees and not from the branches as most fruit do.
The fruit of Jabuticabeira (Plinia cauliflora) or Brazilian grapetree is a purplish-black skinned with white-pulp. It is normally eaten raw but can be used to make jam, juice or wine.
Many of us will recognise this fruits name, even if hard pressed to describe it. To me it is the jack of all fruits in that it can be used in so many way, raw and cooked, ripe and unripe.
I frequently see it is Asian stores both canned and frozen. Not only can it be eaten as an ingredient in its own right it is also often processed in products such as chips and noodles.
Here’s another fruit where the name is recognisable but not everyone will have tasted it. Botanists argue on which family kumquats should be put in. All I know is it looks a bit like a small orange but is a much harder plant that originated from Japan. Today it is grown on a wider scale, and found in China, Malaya and even the UK!
Langsat aka Duku
Duku, Lansium parasiticum , is often grown alongside durian and other fruit. It can be eaten raw and is grown in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia whee it is often sold from roadside stalls.
Available in the UK in tins there are three subspecies of this weird fruit tree, all are evergreen.
First named by Pierre Sonnerat in his account “Voyage to the East Indies and China, made between 1774 and 1781”), which was published on his return in 1782.
Cultivation in China goes back to at least 1059 AD and possibly as far back as 2000 BC. Lychee’s still grow in the wild in parts of southern China and on Hainan Island. The fruit was apparently regarded as a delicacy in the Chinese Imperial Court. I still like it today!
Mangostee, Garcinia mangostana
A juicy, sweet but tangy fruit with flesh reminiscent of citrus fruit.
Aka the Kaffir Lime it is popular in some Indian cuisines and I usually have a bottle of preserved Kaffir lime leaves in my larder.
Aka Bitter melon or bitter gourd, Momordica charantia, is a fruit related to pumpkins, cucumber and squash. Its grows on a vine and can be grown in the UK.
In many cuisines its a staple, especially in many Asian cultures
— is a tropical vine that belongs to the gourd family and is closely related to zucchini, squash, pumpkin, and cucumber. It’s cultivated around the world for its edible fruit, which is considered a staple in many types of Asian cuisine.
Physalis peruviana, aka Cape gooseberries is a fruit I grow in the UK and is overwinters in mild areas. I’ve written extensively about it and there’s more if you follow the link above
Pitaya aka Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit are from the cacti family and are grown extensively in Mexico, Peru, South & East Asia, the Caribbean, Australia, the US and other tropical and sub tropical regions of the world.
Dragon fruit are also sometimes sold under theme strawberry pear.
Rambutan are golf ball sized fruit from a south Asian tree, Nephelium lappaceum. Their name, is derived from the Malay for hair which refers to the numerous hairy growths on the shell that surrounds the white fleshy centre. In Vietnam the fruit is called chôm chôm which means ‘messy hair’.
The tree, which stand up to 80ft high, is insect pollinated (usually by bees). The fruit has been traded across south east Asia for centuries and the tree is now grown in diverse countries including outside its original location.
In Ecuador it is called achotillo. But it is also now grown in Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.
This is fruit from a species of palm treeruit native to Java and Sumatra in Indonesia.
It was featured on a Malaysian stamp, issued 27 February 1999 under the rare fruits series of stamps. Rare fruit is celebrated on stamps!
Sapota (chikoo, chico, nispero, sapodilla, sapote, chicozapote, chicle, naseberry)
Manilkara zapota, is a long-lived, evergreen tree from to southern Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean region.
It was introduced to the Philippines during Spanish colonization.
Not to be confused with nespora, the loquat (Eriobotrya japonica), that is grown in Portugal
This is a hybrid between a grapefruit and a tangerine. It’s a very strange fruit.
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