Praised for its verdant rainforests and unspoiled beaches, Costa Rica offers yet another exotic temptation – a colorful and tasty array of tropical fruits. And the best part is you can enjoy these succulent delights any time of year. Stop by any farmers’ market and you’ll be greeted with aisles upon aisles chock full of pineapples, oversize papayas, luscious mangoes and a few of the country’s more unusual offerings. For a one-of-a kind culinary experience, be sure to give one of these delectable fruits a try!
What’s spiky and green on the outside and sinfully delicious on the inside – the Costa Rican soursop! Locally known as guanabana (pronounced gwa-nah-bah-na), this football-sized fruit is sold year-round and is most often used for making natural drinks (refrescos) or ice cream. The white flesh inside is creamy and sweet with just a hint of tartness. Some people describe the flavor as a blend of pear, coconut and pineapple. You can eat soursop as is, or mix the flesh with water and a pinch of sugar for a refreshing smoothie. Rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants, the guanabana is also good for your health.
Mamon Chino (rambutan)
The tart and refreshing mamon chino is a close relative to the lychee, and is actually native to South East Asia but thrives in Costa Rica’s fertile volcanic soil. Covered in a soft spiky hair, these red golf ball-sized fruits have the consistency and flavor of grapes, though slightly more acidic. They’re incredibly cheap at about $2 for a large bag, and make for the perfect snack on a warm summer’s day. Just peel away the hard exterior and pop the juicy white orb in your mouth to eat – or suck – the flesh off the pit. Low in calories yet bursting with flavor, mamon chinos are a healthy and delicious snack.
Pejibaye (peach palm fruit)
Native to Central and South America, the pejibaye – or peach palm fruit – looks something like a large chestnut with bright orange or reddish skin. Since they have the starchy qualities of a potato, they are always boiled in salted water or chicken broth before consumption. The taste is out of this world: slightly nutty like a chestnut with hints of sweet potato. After removing the skin, you can eat them with a dollop of mayo as locals do, or use the fibrous meat as a base for creamy bisque. Pejibayes take center stage in October, when the small Costa Rican town of Tucurrique hosts its annual festival dedicated to the fruit. Visitors can try out a variety of baked goods, soups, cookies and even liquor made from pejibayes at this colorful event.
Carambola (star fruit)
Another stand-out star in the world of Costa Rican fruits, the carambola hits all the right spots: faintly sweet, gently tart and delightfully crunchy. As they ripen, their thick, waxy skin morphs from a light green to a deep yellow hue – and the longer they mature the sweeter their flavor. Star fruit make a great addition to salads, or they can be eaten as is. Their flavor is an unusual fusion of lemon, apple and citrus, and they are a terrific complement to any fruit smoothie. Star fruit are also an excellent source of potassium and Vitamin C, and are seasonally available in supermarkets and farmers markets.