Top 10 Weirdest Fruit

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If you grew up American, like me, then your typical idea of “Tropical Fruit” was bananas and the occasional kiwi. When I was a kid, Pineapples were something you rarely saw in a grocery store and mangos were something mentioned in movies or songs and I just assumed they didn’t exist for real and I just assumed Sesame Street and Don Ho were lying to me.

The internet has effectively erased the borders when it comes to things like a country’s native foods, and the global distribution of goods has brought the weird to our neighborhood food dispensaries.  Here are 10 bizarre fruits that people actually eat, that we otherwise never would have heard of.

10. Kiwano

kiwano

Kiwanos are a strange melon/cucumber relative originally from New Zealand. The outside looks more like something from an 80s side-scroller than a fruit, and the inside is even more bizarre. Usually when something is that green, it is oozing out of a dead alien, and to be honest, isn’t real. But they are. When I was a kid, the commissary (the grocery store if you grew up on a military base) had them once and I talked my mother into buying one. I then spent 2 weeks staring at it, wondering if it was going to scream at me and club me to death if I tried to cut it (it didn’t).

I eventually sliced it open, and as is the case with most tropical fruit, I decided I preferred apples. They are apparently pretty popular, though and work okay in fruit salads.

9. Dragon Fruit

dragonfruit

Also known as Pitaya, the dragon fruit lives up to its name in appearance. From the outside, it looks like a decorative modern art flame, and on the inside, well, that is what I figured a dragon must look like on the inside. They originally come from Mexico and New Mexico, but are pretty popular in the eastern world now and grown heavily in the islands of Indonesia, up across South East Asia, in Australia and even as far as Israel.

It is the fruit of a cactus, and is described as having a very watermelon like taste, despite looking like vanilla ice cream studded with dead fruit flies.

 8. Durian

durian

Ahh, durian. Alternately known as “The King of Fruit” and “The fruit that smells like rotting garbage and onions.” My favorite description is from Richard Sterling and quoted on Wikipedia as this:

“Its odor is best described as pig-sh*t, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away.”

The same page also mentions that they have also been described as smelling like civet, sewage, stale vomit, skunk spray and used surgical swabs. Yum.  Some people are absolutely in love with it, and apparently a variety of animals including tigers can’t get enough of stale vomit encased in a fruity hedgehog, but the people in Singapore seem to have the right idea; the fruit is banned from all public transportation.

7. Buddha’s Hand

Buddha Hand

Buddha’s hand is a citrus fruit with little real “fruit” to it, being mostly citron scented rind, in the form of awful looking yellow fingers. It is easily the most horrible looking thing bearing the name “Buddha” unless some sick bastard named a rotting carcass after Siddhartha.

People don’t generally eat them, because of the lack of actual fruit in it, but they use them to perfume rooms because they put out a pretty powerful citrusy fragrance, however since their pith (the bitter white part of the citrus peel) is actually not bitter, the “fingers” are sometimes cut off and used in fish dishes or salads.

6. Passion Fruit

passion fruit

While passion fruits aren’t exactly rare these days, they still kind of freak me out, and they are odd looking. They are originally South American and the skins have been shown to contain trace amounts of cyanogenic glycosides, which is to say microscopic amounts of really nasty poison, but then again so do apple seeds, so don’t sweat it.

People are almost as psycho about passion fruit as they are durian, although not smelling like a corpse suggests that they may be on to something. Here’s a fun bit of trivia: Guess how the Passion Fruit got its name? Well, before the fruit was named, the flower was called the “Passion Flower”. Do the flower and fruit inspire lust? Do they keep couples together through tough times? Or rather, did the flowers remind the first Europeans to discover them think of Jesus being tortured (the Passion)and named them after that? Hint, it had nothing to do with love.

5. Screw Pine

screw pine

I love anything where the name could get a kid in trouble for saying it in school, which includes the word “screw” and anything that sounds like “ass.” Screw pines also go by the more boring name of Pandanus… okay, so “Panda anus” is a winner too. The fruit is used for everything from dyes to food. Not the most exciting thing on the list, but it certainly has the most fun name.

4. Rambutan

Rambutan

I’ll be honest with you; rambutan reminds me of a vegetarian testicle. Sorry for that, but I aim for honesty in my writing and it looks like some weird critter from Australia carries them around to make babies and possibly drink from. It hails from Southeast Asia and is popular for jams and jellies, and the mildly poisonous seeds are sometimes roasted and eaten (roasting them apparently makes them safe).

3. Akebia Quinata

akebia quinata

These fruit look like they are just as likely to eat you as you are it. The sausage shaped pods are filled with edible goo that looks like it should be bursting with flies, but they come from chocolate scented flowers, which means they may not be half bad. The stem of the plant is used as a diuretic because it contains 30% potassium salts, and New Zealand has banned the sale of the plant because it is apparently a virulent pest that likes to squeeze out competing flora.

2. Atemoya

atemoya

Atemoya are a hybrid made from Sugar Apples and Cherimoya. Much like the durian, they look like you could shove it onto the end of a stick and smite foes with them, but they are actually smooth and soft like the sherimoya. They are described as tasting like a pina colada with vanilla, which actually sounds quite delightful. Oh, and because nothing tropical seems to be without a horrific dark side, the seeds are inedible and poisonous. Also, the flowers have a weird behavior; from 2 to 4 PM, they are female, and on alternating days, from 3 to 5 they are male. This fruit is a lot like Cillian Murphy in Peacock.

1. Snakeskin Fruit

snakeskin fruit

Some fruit names are deceptive; Breadfruit tastes nothing like bread, and road apples couldn’t look less like a road if they tried. (They taste awful, too.) This one pretty much hits the nail on the head. I will take my vegetable matter without disturbing scales, thank you very much. Pinching the end of the fruit causes the skin to slough off, and the pieces of fruit resemble garlic. The flavor is described as sweet and acidic, that is if you can get past the fact that it looks like garlic from the plant the lizard people in V came from.

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List by: David Dietle


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18 Comments

  1. Hands off durian, rambutan and salak (snakeskin-fruit) !

    I was introduced to them when I went to work and live in Indonesia for 4 years. They became a favourite (esp rambutan which are just like lychees). Even now I love them. Durian don’t only smell strange, their spiny skin will jab your fingers and draw blood ! However, their oval pods inside the thick skin are creamy and aromatic. Salak taste a bit like durian but crispy.

    Where was jambu-air (water apples) on the list ? Where was jack-fruit (Nangka in Indonesia, Langka in Philippines) ?

  2. When I was a kid even Kiwis were considered weird. I brought some for lunch in 5th grade and nobody had even seen one, including the teachers. I vividly recall adults reacting as though they were terrified of these strange alien fruits.

  3. Could topic choice, always a fabourite but I would have enjoyed the list more if I didnt feel that the author is a closedminded knob and had to drown the list in sarcasm and backhanded slights to stuff a lot of people do like.

  4. i think you must put durian as no. 1. Yes, the name (in english) indicates that. The king of fruit. It’s most favorite in Indonesia.

  5. The weirdest fruit I’ve encountered in a long time was at the market in Cusco, Peru. It is called a “pacae” (a.k.a. ice cream bean) and looks like a green, fuzzy locust-bean pod. If you cut it open, there is a row of individual fruitlets: white sweet flesh around a hard brown seed.

  6. I am an army brat and lived in europe and asia-
    I encourage my kids to try different foods, the same way my parents always have.
    As a result we always have a basket full of fruits and veggies that otherwise go
    unnoticed at our local store. People constantly ask my kids about the items and my
    kids are happy to enlighten anyone who does inquire,. Their favorites are Kumquats-
    what a perfect little edible fruit. Sweet and sour. Mango sorbet without any additives and
    Tamarind, which they like to pop like other kids do chips.

  7. I just love Durian – once you try a Durian no other fruit will for you and durian candy will make chocolate seem like chalk.

    anyone who has spent time in the orient will come to love ube and durian once they give them a chance. hawaii is growing some now so perhaps Yanks will get a chance to know something other than the frozen variety which is ok but not quite the same

  8. Many of these are considered local fruit here, and I love eating them just as much as I do apples and oranges. I wouldn’t classify durian smell as “horrible”, but it does have a unique taste and smell 😛

  9. nice writing. 🙂
    The word “Rambutan” derived from an Indonesian Language word “Rambut” which means “Hair” in English. So, Rambutan is a hairy fruit.

  10. Seriously, four of the ten fruits mentioned are actually normal in the South-east Asia and much devoured and loved. The descriptions are harsh. Especially on rambutan. I had never heard of anyone think of it that way. This article is funny, yes, but too “colourful” and kind of make me think these fruits are some sort of alien production from Mars.

  11. Never rag on the rambutan. The near-ultimate dessert is rambutan stuffed and pieces of banana with pineapple, served in warm coconut milk and tapioca balls. Not only is it sweet and delicious, it’s healthy enough to eat for dinner.

    The dragonfruit? It’s edible and healthy, but nothing remarkable. The seeds are as annoying as raspberry seeds, and the texture is like a cross of yellow melon and kiwi fruit.

    Screw pine? It looks like a herpes outbreak.

    And the only thing that smells worse than a durian are two things I smelt in Korea: bbondaegi (boiled silkworm maggots) and dried squid. Bbondaegi smells worse than it looks, and dried squid is so bad that movie theatres and other enclosed places ban it as a snack. Even baseball stadiums frown on it.

  12. I’m from the phils and ive seen and tasted most of the fruits here…i thought tamarind will be included..rambutans skin is deceivable since when you eat it youd end up eating them all in one sitting! Yes, their yummy, their taste is akin to lychees but better…

  13. This article is not really good: an uninformative. Looks like just googling from GOOGLE, by typing TROPICAL FOOD. #LOL

  14. anyway, what does this means????!!!: and the mildly poisonous seeds are sometimes roasted and eaten (roasting them apparently makes them safe).

    POISONOUS? Are you kidding?! Have you ever tasted the fruit yet?!

  15. Dragon fruit: it’s good for your cholesterol – and doesn’t taste anything at all, not even sweet or sour. Just bland. But very watery, so it’s quite refreshing.
    Durian: I may be one of the few people from SEA who doesn’t like this fruit. It is overrated, although not really bad when it’s mixed with ice cream.
    Rambutan: Yep, it means “hairy-fruit” but the taste of the fruit is really nice, sweet especially when you get the red one. The green one is usually still not ripe, and tastes sour.
    Snake skin (or salak) is sweet-sour, but has a sharp taste that could make your throat feels achy if you eat it too much.

    We have some other weird but fun fruits, manggis is one of them, it has oozy red liquid just like blood when you open the fruit, but it taste so fresh and nice.
    This article made me want to jump into any supermarket and have a good fruit-shopping trip 🙂

  16. Passion fruit makes the best juice I have ever tasted and I am from the tropics. I have noticed that many companies have tried to bottle this juice and failed to bring the proper taste across, reason the fruit is processed before it has ripened. The skin tend to wrinkle and get brown spots when left out it is at its best then, plus the skin of the one we have in the Caribbean is green then turns yellow. unless it is very yellow no trace of green I would not eat it leave it out a day or two.

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