By Sofía González
If you ever have the chance of walking through a farmer's fair in Costa Rica, you're bound to feel intimidated at the amount and array of different-looking fruits. That's one of the perks of living in a tropical country: fruit is plentiful and incredibly delicious. However, if you’re just getting to know the beautiful world of tropical fruits, you’ll likely get overwhelmed.
The best piece of advice we can provide is to try them and learn a bit or two about each fruit you'll encounter. Tropical fruits make great vegan snacks because they're fresh, packed with nutrients and very different to what you're used to consuming on a daily basis.
This is the reason why we've created a list of some of the best tropical fruits you can find in a Costa Rican farmer's fair. Please note that some of these fruits are not available all year round; they taste better during specific times of the year.
Granadilla or passiflora passion fruit takes a while to get used to - especially in terms of texture!
The granadilla or passiflora is a round, orange fruit with a hard exterior that contains a yellow, jelly-like pulp with lots of edible black seeds. It's a cousin of the passion fruit, and looks quite similar to it. To eat it, you cut the fruit in two and eat the pulp with a spoon.
It's usually sweet and it's meant to be eaten by itself. Like passionfruit, you can use it for desserts. However, granadillas are really better if eaten raw. Any Costa Rican will eat them that way! As a bit of a warning, some people are not crazy on the texture. It’s really different, at least for a fruit!
In Nicaragua, dragon fruit juice with lemon is very popular.
Known in Costa Rica as pitaya, dragon fruit is native to Mexico and Central America. It's round, the size of a mango, and has bright red skin and green scales - just like a dragon! Inside, it has a white flesh with small black seeds, and it tastes like a combination between a kiwi and a pear.
To eat it, make sure you select a fruit with bright, evenly-colored skin. You can use a spoon to eat the fruit out of the skin or just cut straight through it with a knife. You can eat as it is, that works.
Our Favorite Vegan Snack: the Gooseberry
The uchuva or Peruvian gooseberry is a small, berry-like fruit that comes in orange-yellow tones. It comes wrapped in a paper-like film that acts as protection. In Costa Rica, uchuvas are grown in the Cartago area, where it's cold and the fruit is likely to thrive.
Uchuvas are very juicy, sweet and tart, which makes them an incredibly versatile fruit. You can have them raw or prepare a wide range of dishes and drinks. Whether it's a dessert, a savory sauce or a cocktail, the uchuva will likely blow your taste buds! Just make sure to remove the film and wash them well!
Cas fruit juice is a classic at any Costa Rican home.
This is a very difficult fruit to describe. People who have visited the country have tasted it in their drinks. It's most similar to a guava, yet the guava is a lot sweeter and not as grainy.
The cas can't be eaten by itself because it's quite sour. Although, to be honest, some people love eating it with a little salt on top. Once it's ripe, however, it's ready to be added to drinks, jams and desserts. Oh, and don't worry if you find a worm or two - they're actually okay to eat!
The soursop in three words? Tender, sweet and aromatic.
Making Artisan Food with Soursop
Guanabana, as it's known in Costa Rica, or soursop is quite an intimidating fruit! It's quite large (weighing around 3 kilos, approximately), green and prickly. You'd never expect it to be such a fleshy, aromatic and sweet fruit. It's texture is very similar to that of an ice cream.
Once you are able to crack its enormous shell, you can enjoy the fruit raw. However, most Costa Ricans enjoy it as a fruit juice - try it if you ever have the opportunity! For those who are crafty, you can turn the soft, fleshy insides of the soursop into incredible desserts.
Did you know the sapote is, technically, a berry?
This is quite a controversial one. Sapote is native to México, Central America and parts of South America, and it exists in many different variations. The one you can find regularly in farmer's fairs is medium-sized, with a light-brown exterior and a bright orange interior... sort of a papaya!
It's very similar to a papaya, in terms of flavor. It's very sweet, slightly grainy and has a strong aftertaste. Those who love papayas and similar fruits will also love the sapote. However, if you have a particular distaste for the fruits we've just mentioned, don't even get near it.
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