Despite the Coronavirus chaos spreading pandemic mayhem around the globe, one thing still seems normal… The mango blossoms. The mango trees of Miami are all bursting in golden splendor.. a nostalgic reminder that springtime is here. Life does have order, and everything God designed on this planet starts and ends in its proper season. Spring time heralds the hopeful certainty of new beginnings.
For my northern readers, yes, we do have distinct seasons in the 305 region besides hurricane season (0: One of the great blessings of living in the Miami Metro area is the abundant access to freshly grown or locally sourced “immune building” and “disease fighting” tropical fruits.
The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau reported over 23 million visitors grace the Miami shores annually; Many drawn by the magic city’s funky Latin-Caribbean vibe, bejeweled Wynwood street art, and of course the cool turquoise waterways juxtaposed to the warm glow of the Miami sunsets. Amidst Miami’s magical mystique, the region undoubtedly has its fair share of wacky, weird, yet wonderful things.
For the fruit loving foodie traveler, or the local-ites looking for a healthy immunity boost, Miami offers a plethora of amazing and seemingly less popular exotic fruits. At first glance, some of these succulent treats may be off putting. Their outward appearance make them least likely to win a beauty pageant, or snag the cover feature of the Miami Herald; However these particular fruits would generously tip the scales in any flavor tasting or nutrition contest and leave your taste buds doing the electric slide.
Miami’s wacky, weird yet wonderful fruit ensemble certainly fits the nomenclature that “you cannot judge a book by its cover”. If your scrutinizing eye can could get past the less desirable wacky exterior, a succulent, healthy and delicious fruit adventure awaits you.
Before we dive into my fantastic foodie showcase of Miami’s wacky, weird, yet wonderful exotic fruits, let me drop a disclaimer for all you skeptics sitting there wondering if the Mango Lady has lost her faculties and traded her mango loving card for a bunch of weird looking fruits. Though these fruits are wonderful, they don’t even enter the same arena or speak the same language as the mighty mango. The mango is in a class of its own (moment of silence).
As much as I love mangoes (see my previous mango post), I also enjoy the thrill of sampling the region’s exotic fruit varieties, packed with flavor, endorphins, and disease fighting antioxidants. The fruit discoveries also provide a wonderful window into Miami’s microcosm of diverse cultures, and customs. Many of these fruits, like their foreign companions, came as expats from other countries and now call the 305 home.
So let’s do this! Join me now on a showcase of 13 wacky, weird yet wonderful exotic fruits found in the Miami metro area (and yes I have tasted every single one):
The jabuticaba tree is both wacky and weird looking. The tree has flowers and fruits growing directly out of its trunk that gives the appearance of bugs hanging off the tree… however jaboticaba has a sweet tangy delicious taste like red grapes.
Location: Fruit N Spice Park
2. Miracle Fruit
This tiny little red fruit resembles a coffee berry and is definitely on the wondeferful yet weird list. It contains a substance called miraculin that coats the tongue and converts sour tastes to sweet. This causes normally-sour-tasting acidic foods, such as limes, to taste really sweet. Great for pregnant women or chemo patients who often complain of metallic tastes. The fruit can help bring flavor in your diet. The effect lasts up to about an hour.
Location: local plant nurseries
3. Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit has grown in popularity in the last few years. The fruit surprisingly grows on a cactus and sports a bright red skin with wackly looking scales that resemble a dragon. The flesh has white pulp that tastes slightly sweet with a mild pleasant flavor and is speckled with tiny black edible seeds.
Location: Publix, Whole Foods, Foodtown
I’ve often heard folks say the guinep flesh looks like weird slimy little eyeballs. Be that as it may these fleshy succulent little jewels are a ball of sweet goodness. The flavor is tangy and addictive. The green colored fruit dangles in grape-like clusters from the tree. When the green outermost shell is peeled away, what awaits you is a jelly-like fruit inside that is smooth, absolutely mouth watering and delicious.
Location: Street vendors, backyards, Yellow Green Farmers Market, Swap Shop
5. June Plum
The June Plum, sometimes called golden apple, can be eaten ripe or unripe with salt. The yellow flesh is a sharp contradicton of flavours that will make your taste buds waltz between sweet, sour and salty. This tangy fruit is an emjoyable staple of many children in Latin America and the Caribbean. Watch out for the spiky/thorny wierd looking seed that requires skillfull maneuvering in order to devour the delicious juicy flesh without poking yourself in the cheek.
Location: local plant nurseries, backyards, Fruit N Spice Park
6. Hairy Lychee (Rambutan)
Talk about a wacky looking fruit with a permanent bad hair day. The hairy lychee can be peeled like you would a hard-boiled egg. Get past the shell and the fruit inside has a smooth texture and appearance that’s similar to a grape. The flavor and aroma are sweet, and undeniably exquisite. Inside, there’s one large seed beneath the flesh.
Location: Foodtown, Bravo, Presidente, Wholefoods, Asian supermarkets
The jackfruit is the largest tree borne fruit in the world and can be described as the weird looking cousin of the fig, mulberry and breadfruit tree family. The fruit has a lovely aroma that is recognizable from a distance with a delicious chewy yellow flesh, encased in individual pods tucked neatly inside a large bumpy rugged green shell. The average jackfruit weighs a whopping 100 pounds and can get as large as three feet in size.
Location: Yellow Green Farmers Market, most Asian supermarkets, Bravo, Fruit N Spice Park.
This fruit though fairly large in size, growing up to more that one foot, surprisingly grows on a vine. Seems it has varying names. My Haitian friends call it Grenadine and my Trini friends call it Barbadine. The fruit sports a green to yellow color and has the most spectacular flowers that grow in a brilliant circular arrangement of red and purple petals. Some cultures call this fruit Quadrangularis, which derives from the fact that the stems are quadrangular. The fruit is eaten raw or made into salads. However my favorite option is to blend the pulp into a juice (makes a knock out fruit punch). Also makes a delicious smoothie.
Location: local residents, Haitian grocery stores.
9. Suriname Cherry
The Suriname cherry tree is ultra common in south florida and is often used in gardens or swale areas as a hedge or screen. The fruit is red in color and has grooves running across with a rather large seed inside. It’s an acquired taste for sure. Folks find it weird to see fruit lovers like myself walking down the sidewalk and plucking cherries from this common bush, typically laden with an abundance of red juicy cherries.
Location: Most Miami streets and backyards. Popular hedge.
The Naisberry is also a popular fruit in the Miami area. Also called sapodilla, the naisberry has a round or onlong shape, with the same brown dirty color and appearance as a potato. The flesh is slightly orange in colored. However the exterior gives no justice to the flavor, the taste is unassuming and devine. It tastes a bit like cinnamon and is sugar-sweet with small, black seeds. The naseberry is high in fiber and rich in antioxidants. When ripe, the fruit is firm but pliable so you can just break it apart with the fingers and eat it. Some people also eat the skin but I’ve never tried it.
Location: Most Miami streets and backyards, Bravo, Foodtown
This fruit definitely falls into the wacky looking category with big black seeds that peer out like large eyes, from a bright red shell. The Ackee is widely considered to be poisonous, yet still delectably edible by many. You would agree there is something mysteriously weird about eating a fruit that’s known to be poisonous.
Gets more interesting…Ackee, unlike most other fruits, is prepared by stir frying with salt fish. You dont ever eat it raw. Nonetheless, with all this weirdness surrounding the Ackee, it’s a delightful fruit that must be prepared by experienced cooks since incorrect preparation could lead to poisoning and in some cases death. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and is considered one of the country’s best delicacies.
Location: Most Jamaican restaurants
The sweetsop is a wacky cluster of green colored knobby segments. The kids claim it looks like a dinosaur egg. The bumpy shell softens and breaks apart when ripened and will crumble with ease once touched. The bumpy shell conceals a fantastic white custard flavored flesh, filled with pockets of hidden black seeds. The flavor is sweet, addictive and delightful.
Location: Foodtown, Yellow Green Market, Middle eastern grocery stores
The kumquat is best described as an itsy-bitsy, bite sized fruit that resembles an orange in appearance. Though the fruit is definitely in the citrus family, it looks like a micro shrunken version of its citrus cousins, and is only the size of a tiny olive. You typically eat the whole fruit: skin, flesh, seed, everything all in one gulp. It’s tangy and sharp in taste. The fruit is also great for juicing or making jams. Kumquats are an excellent source of vitamin C. They’re also rich in fiber and water, making them a weight loss friendly food.
Location: Local nurseries, wholefoods, Bravo.
So that’s it folks. My list of wacky, weird yet wonderful exotic fruit discoveries in the Miami Metro Area. Many of these fruits may have brought you back to a time, place or enjoyable moment in your life. I hope my showcase of Miami’s weird and wacky exotic fruits provided a nostalgic and much needed escape.
Im curious to hear how many of these exotic fruits you have already tried. My challenge to you after reading this blog is to be on a seek and search fact finding mission so you can learn more about the wonderful health benefits and delightful flavor packed inside each of these amazing fruit capsules.https://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/miracle-fruit/
As always whether you eat or drink, whatsoever you do, do it all to the glory of God. Be well and make it a mango-licious day!
Other online resources or find these fruits locally: