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Brazil is the fifth biggest country in the world spanning 3,285,618 square miles and is full of unique and amazing ingredients, including an abundance of weird and wonderful fruits you’ve probably never heard of or tasted.
At Fine Dining Lovers we love discovering and sharing new and unusual things: here is a Brazilian fruit list, featuring 10 of Brazil’s finest and strangest fruits.
Abundant across Brazil during mid-summer, Seriguela (also known as a kumquat) is a species of cashew (though don’t let this fool you, it’s not a nut, and tastes nothing like a cashew). This small vitamin packed fruit is quintessentially Brazilian and is sold in markets and at traffic lights across Brazil. It has both a sweet and sour taste and is increasingly becoming popular in another of Brazil’s famous exports, the Caipirinha, and also makes a tasty marmalade. To eat raw, roll the fruit between your thumb and forefinger to soften and release the juice, then pop in your mouth and eat whole, skin and all.
2. Kino (Kiwano / Horned Melon)
Originally a native of the Kalahari desert, this awesome looking fruit tastes like a mix of banana and kiwi, with cucumber–like seeds. Eaten fresh or in a fruit salad it can also be used as a sweet addition to salsa and like the Seriguela, when mixed with cachaca offers a cool twist on the traditional Caipirinha. It also pairs well with beef, red snapper or in a spicy Thai salad. Expect to see this Star Trek fruit in a restaurant near you soon.
Native to the south east of Brazil Jabuticaba is a berry that looks a lot like a grape, but with a sweet pulpy inner fruit (a bit like lychee). It is one of only a couple of fruits in the world (along with the cauliflory) that grows directly on the trunk of its tree and is either eaten fresh (by bursting the skin with your teeth and sucking out the soft, gelatinous fruit within) or made into jams, tarts and liquors, as once picked it rapidly ferments. As such it is very rarely found outside of the markets of Sao Paulo and the state of Minas Gerias, to which it is native.
4. Caqui Caqui
Also known as Persimmon, caqui caqui is a variety of the Sharon fruit and was bought to the country 100 years ago by Japanese migrants. Often mistaken for a tomato at first glance, it is deliciously sweet when ripe and super bitter when not due to its high tannin content. This Brazilian variety has a flavour with hints of brown sugar and chocolate. As well as eaten raw its also used in a wide variety of cakes, cookies, chutneys and spiced butters.
Like the Liger and Leopon (google them, they're not fruits) the Atemoya is a cross-breed of the sweetsop (sugar apple) and the Cherimoya, and is a manmade half-breed that was originally engineered by horticulturist P.J. Wester in 1908 and is probably my favourite fruit on the list.
The taste is much like a sweet vanilla apple, but with softer flesh, hence one of its nick names:the custard apple (it's also known in Taiwan as the pineapple sugar apple). Some people liken it to a Pina Colada (it would certainly make a great addition to any number of cocktails). To eat take a massive knife, slice it open and spoon out your fill until your heart's content, discarding the non–edible seeds.
Famously known as the vomit fruit for its smell, which is reminiscent of rotting cheese, Noni is probably the one fruit on the list you really won’t want to try, especially raw. The acrid smell is enough to put anyone off taking a second, let alone fist bite, however it does possess an abundance of nutrients which many claim are effective at treating diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and rheumatism. Due to its noxious smell and bitter taste, in the north of Brazil it is generally made into tea, or blended with other sweeter fruits into juice.
Google "Ameixa Amarela" (which literally means yellow plum) and you won’t find many pictures that resemble the specimens I found in the Mercado Municipal in Sao Paulo. Indeed, these are the fanciest and tastiest plums I have ever tried, and like many of the exotic fruits in Brazil it has Asain origins (originally China and Japan) where they are known as Loquats and are traditionally poached in a sweet syrup. According to Flavours of Brazil they have a noticeable sedative effect when eaten in large quantities.
Although native to many parts of Asia, these particular varieties of Pitaya (which means scaly fruit, more commonly know as the dragon fruit) are members of the cactus family, and are originally from Mexico, where the red version is called ziix is ccapxl – "thing whose fruit is sour” – as it has a more bitter taste than that of its sweeter yellow cousin. Found in Brazil and across Latin and central America it has a fresh, rather light taste, with nutty seeds that bare a similarity to the Kiwi.
9. Pearapple (Korean or Asian Pear)
It looks like an apple but tastes like a pear – its a pearapple, or an appley-pear, and like the Atemoya it’s another cross-breed, but this time of the Asian and European pear, which has been adapted to grow in the subtropical climates of Brazil. There’s not much more to say about this quirky hybrid except it's sweet and tasty and goes great in a fruit salad, jam, or pie – an appley-peary pie.
10. Brazilian Maracuja
The final fruit on our list you're probably more familiar with, and its definitely the most famous and widely used of Brazilian fruits. The Brazilian Maracuja (or passion fruit to you and me) is as Brazilian as football and Samba. Given its name by the early Spanish conquistadors, who thought its flowers resembled the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ as depicted in paintings of the passion, it is delicious eaten fresh with a spoon straight out of its shell, in a sweet tart or mouse, or my favourite, a passion fruit Caipirinha.