Increasingly present in our markets, tropical fruits have become a claim for palates on more restless and innovative tables. Delicious when fresh or in juice, these exotic varieties have surprisingly impossible shapes, unique textures and bittersweet mixture of slurry to benefit our body with lots of vitamins (A, B and C) and minerals (calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium).
However, the presence of fruit from faraway lands is not new. In fact, for many years, pineapples, avocados, cherimoya and coconut have coexisted with apples, pears and oranges in greengrocery stores. More novel, however, is the emergence of other items such as mango, papaya, passion fruit, lychees, guava, carambola, kiwano or rambutan.
Buy and enjoy
Its consumption increases during the holidays, especially New Year’s Eve, mainly to give an original touch to the dinner, much more festive than the traditional one. However, you can buy and enjoy them throughout the year, as the exotic fruits keep coming from tropical countries non-stop.
In stores they can be found usually harvested green and unripe, so it is advisable to leave them out of the fridge for a couple of days. They will be ready to be eaten, when if pressed lightly with a finger, the skin gives appropriate signs of a fresh and juicy pulp.
Mango: Aroma and vitamin C
From India, this tasty fruit of intense flavor is one of the most versatile when it comes to cooking. You can taste it fresh previously withdrawing its central flat bone with a knife, or in juice. Rich in vitamins A and, especially, C, it represents a real tonic for your body, thanks to its high water content and carbohydrates.
Mango is perfect to prepare salads and desserts, but you can add it in savory dishes such as Summery Lime-Mango Shortcakes. In its green variety it can be used as a vegetable in stir-fries, as a garnish with curry or as a garnish for meat recipes.
Papaya: digestive panacea
This fruit, which might seem superficially as a large pear, hides inside a delicious orange sweet flesh, ideal to be tasted fresh (carefully removing the seed), pureed for fruit, in desserts like ice cream, fruit salads, or as an ingredient in salads and cold dishes with cold meat or seafood. It is also perfect for use for its size and very hard skin.
Native to the Central America, the papaya provides us with a vast array of nutrients: vitamins A, B and C, potassium, magnesium, folate and fiber. In addition, its low calorie makes it the right complement to diets. As if this were not enough, it facilitates digestion, soothes irritated intestines and helps to alleviate constipation problems.
Guava: the bittersweet touch
Cultivated in many tropical countries, it originates from Central and South America, where is generally consumed. Its intense flavor makes it a unique bittersweet ingredient to complement salads, juices and desserts. The aroma given it to sauces and chutneys leaves no one indifferent. Canned guava is very popular.
Like most exotic fruits, it is rich in potassium, fiber and vitamins A, B and C. Most of it is water, so it is particularly suitable for diets.
Lychees: grapes of the East
Hailing from China, these little berries of the grape-like flavor and aroma of flowers, are basic to Oriental cooking, especially desserts. Lychees are a common sight in the Asian restaurant menus, either natural, preserved with liquor or as an ingredient in an ice cream.
Unlike other fruits, lychees can be found only fresh in winter (the rest of the year you can taste them in syrup). Their skin is hard, so only the pulp is consumed, which hides a bone inside. Lychees are rich in vitamin C, folate and potassium.
Maracuya or passion fruit
It differs from the rest of its fellow exotic fruits with its gelatinous texture, so it is eaten using a spoon. Similar to passionflower or tamarillo (fruits also from Central and South America), passion fruit is born in Brazil, where is consumed raw or used to make juices, smoothies, jams and fruit salads.
It is present in the market for most of the year (except summer), although the best time to consume it is winter. Nutritionally, noted for its high sugar content, so its energy value is high. It is also rich in iron, calcium and phosphorus, and vitamins A and C.