Here in Costa Rica we have beautiful farmer’s markets or “ferias” overflowing with exotic produce every week. It is truly an experience to wander through the piles and piles of colorful, strange-looking fruits and vegetables, some of which you might not see anywhere else on earth. The array of options can be dizzying, but it’s worth it to step out of your comfort zone and give some of these delicious options a try. Here we outline 12 of the coolest fruits we’ve tasted from our local feria, in Quepos, Costa Rica:
- Pejibaye: the pejibaye is a palm fruit that is hard and impenetrable when raw. These fruits are typically boiled until soft, and can then be peeled and eaten with salt or sour cream. They are savory, exotic, delicious and full of protein. The taste is somewhat reminiscent of a salty boiled peanut. Locals dip them in sour cream or mayonnaise, but they are also good plain with only salt. When blended with greek yogurt or sour cream, they make a unique and scrumptious hummus dip.
- Mamonchino: possibly one of the most exotic-looking fruits you’ll see in our farmer’s markets, the Mamon Chin is similar to a lychee, with a slightly tart flavor and spongy texture surrounding a large seed or pit inside.
- Anona: the exterior of the anona is unassuming, like a dark green avocado with the pattern of an artichoke but a flat untextured surface. The inside is white and creamy, and oh-so-delicious. Tart, citrusy, but also sweet, like a pear meets a coconut meets a banana with a little lime dashed in. Yum!
- Dragon fruit: this cactus fruit is impressive-looking, with deeply pigmented fuchsia skin and flesh. The inside tastes like a tart kiwi, with lightly crunchy edible seeds. The health benefits or this highly coveted fruit are immense; if you see some at a local market, snatch them up! One of the rarer options on this list (I’ve only seen them available a handful of times).
- Guanabana: large and spiky, this eye-catching fruit has mildly sweet white flesh with a creamy texture. Be sure to remove the seeds before eating, as they are potentially toxic in large quantities.
- Sapote: this strange brown potato-shaped fruit has bright orange flesh, and tastes somewhat like a sweet potato mixed with a pumpkin mixed with a banana if you can imagine that. Not for the faint of heart, but chock-full of vitamins.
- Ice cream bean: the ice cream bean got its name from the flavor of the white flesh surrounding the little pods inside—it’s sweet, mild, not at all tart or tangy, and tastes a little like ice cream (or even cotton candy, in my opinion). The edible portion is minimal—just a thin layer of flesh surrounding each large pod—but it’s definitely a flavor experience. Personally not my favorite on the list, but fun to try nonetheless!
- Water apple: shaped like an upside-down pear, this tree fruit is highly coveted amongst experienced feria-shoppers in the tropics. It’s tart and slightly grainy, like a pear, but with more of a twang. You can bite right into it and eat the skin as well.
- Granadilla: one of my personal favorites. The granadilla is a cousin of the maracuya, or passion fruit. The clear seedy pulp inside the granadilla is slightly sweeter and much less tart than the orange insides of the passion fruit, and the seeds are crunchy and part of the experience. Scoop the slimy insides out and eat them all with a spoon, discarding the orange-and-white outer shell. YUM!
- Peruvian groundcherry: these little guys are edible whole, and taste somewhat like a mix between a cherry tomato and a sour grape. My 2-year-old devours them. Easy to eat and easy to love.
- Mangosteen: purple with white, creamy flesh surrounding garlic-shaped pods inside, the mangosteen is famed for its health benefits and is even rumored to prevent some types of cancers. It’s also purely delicious. These are quite seasonal so if you happen upon them, definitely snatch a few up!
- Cas: we love this little round green fruit when it’s in juice form. Not user-friendly when raw, the fruit must be extracted from the hard shell and numerous inner seeds, then blended with sugar or sweetener to make a juice (the most popular way to consume this fruit). But oh, how delicious the juice is! I recommend you find a juice shop that sells fresh cas juice that’s already made up for you, if you want to experience this flavor in all its glory. There are many fruit juice shops around Quepos, near the feria location, and most feature a cas-juice option.
The feria in Quepos is open on Fridays starting at 4pm and lasting through the evening, and Saturdays until 2pm.