Strange fruits can be a hard sell to a new market, but that hasn't stopped many of these colorful and pointy pieces of produce from crossing oceans and into foreign stores.
From durians and mangosteens to horned melons and dragon fruit, these fruits can look intimidating at first, but give each of them a chance, and they may grow on you:
Unrelated to the mango, the sweet-tasting fruit it shares its moniker with, the mangosteen is a round, purple-shelled fruit with soft, thick and white flesh on the inside. While the mangosteen was banned in the U.S. until 2007 due to concerns over disease-carrying pests, the legendarily indescribable taste of the fruit is legally available for what some would call prohibitive prices (at the time of the ban's discontinuation, a pound of mangosteens could be bought for anywhere between $11 to $35).
(Image credit: smalljude)
The pitaya, more commonly known as dragon fruit, is being promoted as the "next big superfruit" by Eric Helms, the CEO of Juice Generation, the chain of smoothie bars in New York City. Although Helms previously (and somewhat mistakenly) prophecized the aforementioned mangosteen as the next big superfruit in 2007, the pitaya's Day-Glo pink rind and conspicuously protruding green petals give it its own form of publicity. When sliced open, the pitaya's sweet and juicy seed-speckled insides have been variously described as tasting like strawberries, watermelon and kiwis.
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3. HORNED MELON
Also known as the "kiwano," the horned melon grows in Africa and boasts a bright-orange, skin covered in spiny protrusions. The fruit's unique attributes can pose problems during post-harvest transportation, often requiring them to be repacked to avoid damage from fruit-to-fruit impacts.
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The smell of this internationally infamous durian fruit from Southeast Asia can be strong enough to clear a shopping mall, but some people turn it into ice cream. Yes, it looks like the head of a medieval weapon; but it also has a sweet, creamy center that can be quite enjoyable.
(Image credit: goosmurf)
5. BUDDHA'S HAND
Thought to have originated in Northeastern India or China, Buddha's hand (or fingered citron) is grown most successfully in Southern California. Although its fingers can hypothetically be broken off and eaten raw, this fruit's gleaming lemon-like rind is best used to add a little bit of zest or fragrance to a dish (like fish) or drink (like vodka). Think of a lemon without any juice or pulp.
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Jackfruit trees can also be found in Southeast Asia, though it has also been grown in Africa and elsewhere. The prickly fruits can be as big as human torsos and do not look particularly inviting. According to a recent report in The Hindu, however, Annie Ryu a senior at Harvard University, is working with some partners through Global Village Fruits to get more of them to more American retailers.
(Image credit: Rennett Stowe)
Closely related to the lychee and indigenous to Southeast Asia, the rambutan derives its name from the Malay word "hair". It's not hard to see why — the distinctive yellow or red-skinned fruit is covered in soft hair-like spines. Inside, the fruit's sweet, white pulp supposedly tastes like a grape or a plum.
(Image credit: goosmurf)
Believed to originate from the Andes valleys in Ecuador, Columbia and Bolivia, the cherimoya's skin ranges in color from yellow-green to dark green and resembles either an abstract still life or a beaten-in artichoke. Inside, the cherimoya has its dark seeds hidden in rich and creamy white flesh, which Mark Twain once declared "the most delicious fruit known to men."
(Image credit: Stacey Spensley)
Jamaica's national fruit and one-half of its beloved national delicacy, salted codfish and ackee, the unriped ackee looks relatively unremarkable compared to the other fruits on this list. When eaten, the unripe ackee causes what is commonly called "Jamaican vomiting sickness." An unripe ackee contains hypoglycin, a poisonous toxin which can cause abdominal pain, dehydration, vomiting, seizures, coma and even death. When ripe, the ackee will let you know by splitting open to reveal three gleaming black seeds and its pulpy white innards, which apparently taste like eggs.
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With an outer shell made of red burrs, the annatto seeds contained within have long been used as yellow-to-red food coloring for dairy products. The annatto tree is referred to as the "lipstick tree" for the bright red dye derived from its seeds, which were used for Mayan war paint. When used as a spice, the annatto seed's taste has been described as "slighty nutty, sweet and peppery."
(Image credit: mmmavocado)
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