Join me on a tantalizing trip into the world of tropical fruit. Belize is a country known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear water, and coral reef, but did you know we have a lush and fertile inland that produces an astonishing array of interesting and exotic fruits? I’m on a mission to find and try them all! Come along with me on a juicy journey of discovery and see how many of these unique Belizean fruits you’ve tried.
Must-Try Belizean Fruits
First up on our fruit-finding adventure is the sensational Soursop. The green, prickly exterior may look unwelcoming but don’t be put off; hidden beneath that armor is a sweet and tangy interior with a creamy texture. It isn’t just the luscious SweeTart-taste that makes Soursop sensational, it is a power pack of nutrients and has many purported health benefits. Loaded with antioxidants, it is thought that Soursop can help eliminate free radicals in our bodies, prevent gingivitis, and even combat cancer cells. Herbal healers use all parts of the Soursop plant in traditional tinctures and medicines, but Belizean’s favorite way to use Soursop is in ice creams and sorbets…a healthy and refreshing treat for those hot tropical days.
2. Dragon Fruit
Looking like it belongs in a fairy tale or science fiction movie, the vibrant Dragon Fruit certainly fixes the definition of “exotic.” The hot pink or yellow exterior is made up of whimsical scales that are easily sliced through to reveal either a snowy white or shocking magenta flesh speckled with teeny tiny black seeds. The flavor is relatively tame for such a wild looking fruit. A mild blend of kiwi and pear, the sweetness is far more subtle than the fruit’s fantastical appearance.
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and that advice should be applied to fruit as well. Looking at the ugly exterior of Sapodilla, you would never dream of the delight its brown papery skin contains. To the eye, Sapodilla is as dull as dish water, but to the taste buds, its as exciting as a surprise party! The cotton candy of the fruit world; I can think of few other things as sweet as a perfectly ripe Sapodilla. The texture is interesting as well. A bit granular like a pear with a large, perfectly smooth pit in the center.
4. Kinep (Guinep)
My favorite road trip nibbles, I rejoice when I see a fruit vendor with snack-sized bags of these delectable green globes for sale. They are just so fun to eat! Known by a variety of different names around the world, our neighbors in Mexico call them Guaya, but here in Belize they are Kineps or Guineps. Call them what you will, I just call them delicious. The outer skin can be easily broken with a squeeze or a gentle bite and will ::pop:: open to reveal a luscious little orb of fruit inside. The flesh is so silky smooth and the flavor of a ripe Kinep is sweet with hints of lychee, honey, and vanilla. They contain a large pit, so each fruit doesn’t hold very much flesh but they’re so enjoyable to eat you won’t mind popping one after another after another.
Rambutan may look a bit bizarre, but the taste is totally conventional. The most shocking thing about this fruit is the myriad of soft spikes covering it, but peel that back and you have what is essentially a big ole skinless grape. A cousin of Lychee, Rambutan is native to Southeast Asia but grows prolifically here in tropical Belize.
As shiny and bright yellow as a brand-new school bus, Craboo is a favorite seasonal fruit in Belize. Known as Nance in Spanish-speaking countries, Craboo is used in making jams, ice cream, and cordials.
Maybe you don’t think Mangoes deserve a spot on our discovery list, but have you tried all of the more than 30 varieties of Mango grown in Belize? I doubt it! Common mango, apple mango, hairy mango, thundershaw, number 11, Julie, slippers, black, white, blue, the list goes on and on! How many have you tried?
8. Wax Apples/Malay Apples
The typical apple varieties don’t grow in the tropics so while we can only get our Gala or Granny Smith fix from importation, we do have an apple substitute that thrives in our warm and wet conditions. Originally from Malaysia, this apple was introduced to the Caribbean by colonizers and has since become a local favorite fruit. The Malay Apple (sometimes called wax apple, rose apple, or water apple) has hardly any flavor to speak of save a super subtle sweetness but its crispness and juiciness provide the ultimate refreshment on a hot day.
Have you ever tried chocolate in fruit form? The whole wide world is familiar with cacao in its processed form– chocolate, but have you eaten the raw fruit right from the tree? Crack open the tough shell of the cacao pod to reveal a cob of slippery white flesh surrounding the beans that would be processed to produce chocolate. The fruit part of cacao is unexpectedly delicate in flavor and texture. It is a must-try while traipsing through southern Belize, the heart of cacao country.
How Many Belizean Fruits Have You Tried?
With a temperate year-round climate, Belize’s growing season never takes a break. Any time of year you are sure to find plenty of goodies in season. We’ve only scratched the surface of Belize’s bounty with this list and there are loads more tropical treasures to be found on the shelves of the fruit stands or among the stalls of the farmer’s markets.