18 Caribbean Fruits to Know and Love

You know about pineapple and mango, but what about mamey and sapodilla?

Ackee

Known as Jamaica’s national fruit, ackee looks like a cross between a brain and scrambled eggs, and doesn’t taste too far off: it’s buttery, nutty, and even scrambles with saltfish, just like you would eggs, for a traditional breakfast dish. Just don’t eat it unripe or else you’ll likely catch Jamaican vomiting sickness; the unripe fruit is toxic, and while ackee is good, it’s not something to die over.

Breadfruit

Bite into a crispy fried piece of breadfruit and you may mistake it for a potato. This starchy fruit is often boiled or fried, served simply with just salt and pepper, and is a filling staple food around the islands.

Chayote

A member of the squash family, this fruit has a mild flavor with a texture somewhere between a potato and a cucumber. It basically sops up the flavor of whatever you prepare it with, so it’s a relatively unoffensive fruit, given you know how to make a good sauce or stew; try it in this spicy Jamaican chicken curry.

Cherimoya

With a texture between that of a mushy pear and a sugar apple (which you’ll learn about below), and a taste between pineapple and bananas, cherimoyas are regarded as one of the best tropical fruits. Mark Twain once referred to it as “the most delicious fruit known to men,” and while his verification is somewhat meaningless, we happen to agree. Eat this raw like you would a watermelon—just watch out for the seeds.

Coconut

You know what a coconut is. Here’s how to crack one open so you can make all these delicious dishes.

Noni

Typically served in liquid form as a juice, noni supposedly gives you a boost of energy and can heal what ails you. Naturally, it has a strong, bitter flavor, which is why you’ll often see it as juice.

Green Bananas

These are figs. No, really! On certain islands, like St. Lucia and Trinidad, green bananas are known as figs (another interesting name swap to note: avocados are often referred to as “pears.”) In Puerto Rico, you’ll see these sold as guineos; try them in a garlicky escabeche alongside roast meats.

Passion Fruit

Once relatively unheard of stateside, passion fruit has become a more popular fruit, probably because yogurt companies advertise it as a mix-in and Australian fitness gurus love instagramming them (they are beautiful, we get it). The bright orange pulp is delicious when eaten raw right out of the fruit, or spooned over a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a pop of texture and tang. Try it in a yogurt bundt cake.

Mamey

Especially popular in Cuba, mamey has a custardy texture with a flavor reminiscent of sweet potato, mango, and papaya, and it makes great milkshakes. If you see mamey juice, buy it. You won’t regret it, and it’s hard to find.

Jackfruit

Like ackee, jackfruit takes well to savory preparations—so well that when it’s unripe, it’s used in savory dishes like you’d use meat (some say it’s a better meat substitute than tofu or setian). If you want to stick to dessert, though, seek out ripe jackfruit to use in cakes, custards, or ice cream.

Guava

By itself, guava is pretty tart; when it’s made into juice or sorbet or paste (read: when you mix a lot of sugar with it), it tastes like tropical strawberry. It’s delicious. Look for pastes or jams at the grocery store, and pair it with mild white cheese or cream cheese. Perhaps the best way to enjoy guava is in the form of a pastelito, a Cuban guava and cream cheese pastry.

Gooseberries

Small and highly acidic, gooseberries are most often stewed with sugar, ginger, and spices as a popular West Indian dessert.

Sapodilla

Eat this by itself. It tastes like an extra sugary pear—why would you need anything else?

Sour Orange

Self explanatory: an extra-sour variety of orange with a bitter bite that makes it better for cooking than eating out of hand. It’s ideal for garlicky mojo sauce.

Soursop

This spiky fruit is often prescribed to treat physical ailments, but we like it best as juice (it’s sour, creamy, and unlike any other juice we’ve had).

Star Apple

Once you break through the inedible skin, the inside of this vibrant fruit is milky and Jello-like, similar to a persimmon. In Jamaica, it is often prepared with sour orange juice, a combination called “matrimony.”

Starfruit

Cut this fruit horizontally and you’ll understand its name. Starfruit is typically eaten alone, and in the Virgin Islands, you’ll likely hear it called carambola.

Sugar Apple

The name says it all—this fruit is extra sugary, with the flavor of banana and pineapple, and the texture of custard. Break one of these open (which you can do with your hands) when the fruit is literally falling apart, suck out the creamy flesh, and spit the seeds out as you go.

Ugli Fruit

This fruit comes from Jamaica, as in it’s the island’s form of tangelo (a hybrid of grapefruit, orange, and tangerine). Ugly outside, sweet inside.