Exotic Fruits of Colombia

One of the most biodiverse countries in the world is Colombia, and it’s second only to the much larger Brazil. To give you a better perspective of just how biodiverse the country is, National Geographic once stated that “if the earth’s biodiversity were a country, it could be called Colombia”, and that a staggering one of every ten species of flora and fauna found on the planet can also be found in this South American nation.

For fruit lovers, this means that some of the best and most exotic fruits in the world can be found right here – rejoice!

Here are some of the best fruits in the country you should definitely try:

1. GUANABANA

What it looks like:

Also called soursop, it is a green fruit covered with prickly spines. It’s large, and can weigh up to 9 pounds.

What it tastes like:

Inside is a soft white pulp with a custard-like texture that tastes slightly sweet and acidic but also creamy. It tastes like a combination of apples and strawberries.

How to eat it:

The flesh is enjoyed best by cutting the fruit in half and scooping up the white pulp. The dark, large seeds are inedible, and consuming large amounts of its seeds can be toxic.

While many enjoy eating guanabana, you’ll often find it served as a juice drink. It’s also a flavor in smoothies and ice cream.

Health is wealth:

Guanabana is high in antioxidants, and is a great source of fiber, vitamin C, calcium, B vitamins, and phosphorus. It also contains a small amount of riboflavin, niacin, folate, and iron.

A 100-gram serving contains 66 calories and 1 gram of protein.

Additionally, many parts of the fruit, including the stem and leaves, are used medicinally.

Where to get it:

You can findguanabana fruitsatTerracota Greengrocer, CI. 75A #8627, Bogotá, Colombia.

2. PITAYA OR PITAHAYA

What it looks like:

Its skin may be pink, red, or yellow. It’s also commonly known as a “dragon fruit”, because it is thought that the skin patterns of the fruit are reminiscent of a dragon’s scales.

What it tastes like:

Inside is a soft white or red flesh, dotted with edible black seeds. It is hailed by many locals as one of the most refreshing fruits in Colombia – it has a water consistency similar to watermelon, and the taste is similar to pears or kiwis.

How to eat it:

Simply peel away the bitter skin and slice the fruit to enjoy.

Health is wealth:

It’s low in calories but rich in vitamin C, B vitamins, polyunsaturated fatty acids, carotene, and protein. It’s also high in fructose, and diabetics have been known to consume this fruit to help regulate their blood glucose levels. It has several types of antioxidants, and is considered a nutrient-dense fruit.

A 100-gram serving contains 60 calories, and 1.2 grams of protein.

Where to get it:

You can find pitaya fruitsatSurtifruvers all over Bogota – one is at30, Suba #128-B, Bogota, Colombia. Each fruit costs about $1 USD.

3. MANGOSTEEN

What it looks like:

Mangosteens have a hard, purple-colored outer shell, while inside is soft white flesh in segments reminiscent of an orange.

What it tastes like:

The taste is a combination of lychee and peach, though others have likened it to combinations of several other fruits like kiwi, strawberry, plum, and even mango.

How to eat it:

Remove the stem and leaves from the top of the fruit, and squeeze the shell with your hands until it cracks, or slice it open with a knife. You can then eat the soft, white flesh inside.

Smaller segments of the fruit are seedless, while larger segments have seeds. The seeds are edible, but larger seeds tend to be hard and bitter.

Health is wealth:

It is low in calories, and a great source of vitamins C, A, fiber, and folate. It’s also a good source of thiamine and riboflavin.

196 grams or 1 cup of canned or drained mangosteen contains 143 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 1 gram of protein.

Where to get it:

You can get mangosteens from the Plaza de Mercado Paloquemao, at Avenida 19 # 25-04, Bogotá, Colombia. It is about $1 USD per pound.

Fun fact bonus:

Also referred to as the “queen of the fruits” – supposedly because in 1890, the English monarch Queen Victoria offered a knighthood to anyone who brought her mangosteen. In Southeast Asia, it’s also known as the “fruit of the gods”, or the “food of the gods”.

4. GUAMA OR GUABA

What it looks like:

It’s a dark green pod fruit that can be as long as your forearm. Inside is a row of soft white pulp wrapped around large, dark seeds.

What it tastes like:

Guama is sometimes referred to as “ice cream bean”, because it tastes like vanilla ice cream. The seeds are inedible raw, but can be eaten once cooked.

How to eat it:

To open the fruit, cut along from end to end to reveal the white flesh that is in segments inside. Each segment is wrapped around a seed. You can spit out the seeds after eating the flesh, or separate it with your hands prior to popping it in your mouth.

Raw seeds can cause indigestion as they are loaded with trypsin inhibitors (which would otherwise help us digest protein), but cooking breaks these inhibitors down. You can roast the seeds, or boil them for about 40 minutes, after which they’ll taste similar to potatoes.

Health is wealth:

It’s a good source of fiber and anti-oxidants, and is known to lower cholesterol levels.

Where to get it:

You can get guama fruits from the Plaza de Mercado Paloquemao, at Avenida 19 # 25-04 Bogotá, Colombia.

5. UCHUVA

What it looks like:

Uchuvas are small, round, and bright yellow fruits encased in an inedible beige husk which gives it a decorative quality – in fact, you’ll often find uchuvas used as garnishes for high-end desserts throughout Latin America. They’re also called golden berries, or gooseberries.

What it tastes like:

The texture of the fruit itself is similar to that of a tomato, but it tastes like a combination of pineapple and mango.

How to eat it:

Remove the husk, rinse with water, and pop it in your mouth. It can also beadded to puddings, pies, ice cream, and fresh fruit salads.

Health is wealth:

It’s a great source of fiber, and a good source of vitamins A and C, B12, riboflavin, niacin, and phosphorus. It’s also contains a small amount of beta-carotene, vitamin K, and calcium. It’s high in antioxidants, most of it from the fruit’s skin.

A cup or 140-gram serving of uchuvas contains 74 calories, and 2.7 grams of protein.

Where to get it:

It costs about $2,400 COP or $0.76 USD per pound – and you can get it at any local supermarket, large farmers market, or fruit and vegetable store. Or you can head to Plaza de Mercado Paloquemao, at Avenida 19 # 25-04 Bogotá, Colombia, where you’ll find all sorts of exotic fruits!

6. MARACUYA

What it looks like:

Often hailed as the country’s favorite passionfruit, it is an oval, yellow fruit that wrinkles as it ripens.

What it tastes like:

Inside is a gelatinous pulp full of seeds that tastes quite tart.

How to eat it:

To eat it, simply slice it open and scoop up the pulp. Some locals also cut off just the top of the fruit, so that it serves as a container while you spoon out the pulp to eat. You can balance its acidity by mixing in a little bit of sugar.

It’s also often consumed as a drink, or as a flavor of ice cream.

Health is wealth:

It’s an excellent source of vitamin C, and a great source of vitamins A and B, fiber, riboflavin, and niacin – it’s also a natural sedative, and is thought to aid digestion.

A single fruit contains 17 calories.

Where to get it:

You can find maracuyá in any supermarket, large farmers market, or fruit and vegetable store. It costs about $1,800 COP or $0.56 USD per fruit.

7. LULO

What it looks like:

It is a round, bright orange fruit on the outside, with a firm translucent interior similar to that of a tomato.

What it tastes like:

It tastes tart and citrusy.

How to eat it:

Simply cut it open in half and scoop up the insides to enjoy. As it’s quite tart, it’s mostly enjoyed as a fruit drink. Scoop up the flesh and blend it with lime, water, and sugar (of course, add ice to make it more refreshing!). It’s also used in jams, jellies, and ice cream.

Health is wealth:

It’s an excellent source of vitamins C and A, niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin. In traditional medicine, lulo juice is often used as a diuretic.

A 100-gram serving contains 25 calories.

Where to get it:

You can get lulo fruits from the Plaza de Mercado Paloquemao, at Avenida 19 # 25-04 Bogotá, Colombia.

8. CAIMITO

What it looks like:

It is a small, dark green to purple fruit that’s also known as “star apple” or “purple star”, so-called because once cut open across in the middle, the placement of the seeds form a star.

What it tastes like:

The taste is similar to mangosteen, or faintly reminiscent of grapes but creamier (the fruit may also be referred to as milk fruit).

How to eat it:

Cut it open across the middle and take out the seeds, then scoopup the milky purple to white insides and enjoy.

Health is wealth:

It’s a good source of anti-oxidants, calcium, ascorbic acid, and phosphorus. 

A single fruit contains 67 calories.

Where to get it:

You can find star apples in large farmers markets like the Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao at Avenida 19 # 25-04 Bogotá, Colombia.

9. CHONTADURO

What it looks like:

It is a small, red-orange palm fruit.

What it tastes like:

The flesh is hard and needs to be cooked – once cooked, the taste is reminiscent of sweet potato.

How to eat it:

The flesh is very hard, so you’ll have to boil it for around 1 to 3 hours. After it’s been boiled, peel it, and enjoy it with salt or honey, or both.

Health is wealth:

Chontaduros contains as much protein as eggs, and it’s also an excellent source of vitamin A, calcium, zinc, copper, iron, beta-carotene, omega 3 and 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

A 30-gram serving contains 60 calories.

Where to get it:

You can find chontaduros at the El Chontaduro at 46, Cra. 54 #15, Bogotá, Colombia, or at the Jugos De Borojo Y Chontaduro at Cra.106a #66-24, Bogotá, Colombia. It is about $0.50 USD per fruit.

Fun fact bonus:

Despite the lack of evidence that it works as such, many people refer to it as the “National Viagra”.

10. ZAPOTE OR CHUPA-CHUPA

What it looks like:

It is a round, brown (or sometimes green) fruit with a rough, slightly sandpapery texture exterior.

What it tastes like:

Inside is a creamy, brightorange and very fibrous flesh. It’s succulent, and tastes like a combination of mango, papaya and melon.

How to eat it:

To open the fruit, cut out the stem at the top and make a cross incision, then peel down from the incision to reveal the flesh inside (or cut it straight into quarters).Each fruit segment has a large seed – you can separate it by hand prior to eating it, or spit it out after you’ve sucked off the fibrous flesh off of it.

It’s also often used in smoothies, milkshakes, and ice cream.

Health is wealth:

It’s a great source of fiber, vitamin C, E, and B6, as well as riboflavin and niacin. It’s also rich in tannins, and aids in gastritis and irritable bowel syndrome.

A single fruit contains 75 calories.

Where to get it:

You can find zapote fruits at the Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao, Avenida 19 # 25-04 Bogotá, Colombia.

11. CHERIMOYA

What it looks like:

It is an irregularly oval or heart-shaped, green fruit with skin faintly reminiscent of dragon scales – different varieties of cherimoya have slightly different scale-like exteriors, but they all have somewhat of a velvety texture.

What it tastes like:

It’s creamy, and tastes like a combination of bananas, coconut, strawberries, and mangoes. It’s also known as “custard apple” or “sugar apple”.

How to eat it:

You should be able to break open a ripe cherimoya easily – you can eat the white flesh inside, while the skin and seeds are inedible.

Cherimoyas are also often enjoyed in smoothies and as pie fillings.

Health is wealth:

It’s a great source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.

A 100-gram serving contains 74 calories.

Where to get it:

You can find cherimoya in large farmers markets like the Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao at Avenida 19 # 25-04 Bogotá, Colombia.

12. CARAMBOLO

What it looks like:

It is a yellow fruit with a waxy exterior, and it’s also known as a “starfruit” due to the unusual star shape when the fruit is cut across in the middle.

What it tastes like:

It has a crisp texture, and tastes like a combination of an apple and a grape.

How to eat it:

It can be enjoyed as is, skin included.

Health is wealth:

It’s rich in fiber and vitamin C, and low in calories. However, according to the National Kidney Foundation, people with kidney disease should avoid eating Carambolo or starfruit as it contains neurotoxins that people with kidney disease are not able to process properly.

A single fruit contains 28 calories.

Where to get it:

You can find carambolo fruits in any supermarket, farmers market, and fruit and vegetable stores. The El Carambolo Fruit and Vegetable Store is located at Cra. 69 #72-32, Bogotá, Colombia.

BOGOTA’S MAIN FOOD MARKET

We’ve mentioned the Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao a few times earlier for where you can get fruits, and it’s the place you want to go to if you want to lose yourself in the flavors of Colombia. Which is more or less what their website states – toda Colombia en un solo lugar, or “all of Colombia in one single place”.

Lulo, guanabana, granadilla, and pitaya are just some of the fruits you’ll find here. It’sBogotá’s main food market, where you’ll find a mind-boggling array of fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, seeds, herbs, flowers, and so much more.You can find produce from all over the country sold here, but the fun isn’t confined within the massive indoor market – outside, vendors from all over the countryside sprawl along the sides of the streets, selling every imaginable treat and fruit drink possible.

So if you’re looking to get lost in the flavors of Colombia, head on over to the Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemaoat Avenida 19 # 25-04.

They’re open Mondays through Fridays from 5 AM to 4:30 PM, and Saturdays and Sundays from 5 AM to 2 PM.

Colombia is one of the best places in the world for fruits, so make sure to try as many as you can!