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Eager to try some truly unique and bizarre foods? These weird fruits may look like they come from outer space, but their indulgent and mind-blowing flavors and textures are very much ‘out of this world!’
While alien to some of us, these diverse and unique fruits are staples in their native regions and have the potential to open your palate to wild, exciting, and exotic flavors you’ve never experienced before.
After this rundown, you’ll never look at your fruit bowl in the same way ever again! Here are 13 weird, whacky, and wonderful fruits from all over the world, you simply have to try if you’re ever in the region.
Weird Fruits You Have To Try
1 – Durian
What better place to start a whirlwind tour of weird fruits than a Southeast Asian food that polarises opinion quite like no other fruit: the durian.
At first glance, the durian doesn’t seem too bizarre. While its coarse, crinkled yellow-green skin may not look the most appealing, flavor-wise its sweet pulp is a sumptuous blend of sweetness with vanilla undertones, sometimes with a little bitterness, and a custard-like consistency that is soft and creamy.
However, where durian gets its rep from is its incredibly pungent aroma. Its smell is so eye-watering stinky, many refer to it as the ‘vomit fruit!’
Durian’s smell has been described in many creative, and stomach-churning ways. Along with vomit, ‘rotten onions’, ’animal excrement’, and ’sewage’ are just three of the many colorful terms used to describe its repulsive odor, often with two or more of the smells combined!
Novelist Anthony Burgess once described eating durian as ‘like eating raspberry blancmange in the lavatory,’ and Singapore has even banned eaten durian on the subway because its smell is so potent!
A staple in Indonesia, Malaysia, and other countries of Southeast Asia, the descriptions of the smell alone are more than enough to intrigue travelers to seek out and try this truly unique fruit.
2 – Ackee
With its slightly wrinkled, red bell-pepper-like appearance that when ripe opens to reveal a cluster of shiny black orbs, staring at you like some alien species, you’d be forgiven to think ackee is something straight out of a sci-fi movie!
Native to West Africa but popular throughout the Caribbean, particularly Jamaica, ackee is a weird fruit you must try… if you’re under the supervision of a professional who knows what they are doing.
If eaten unripe, or not properly cooked, ackee is poisonous to humans. The smooth black seeds, although alluring, are highly toxic, and the yellow pulp is the only part of the fruit you should eat. Eating unripe or unprepared ackee can also lead to a disease known as Jamaican Vomiting Sickness, which can be fatal.
Despite being a fruit, ackee’s characteristics are much closer to a vegetable. The pulp, when cooked, has a soft, garden pea-like taste, with nutty undertones. It also has a soft and creamy texture, similar to that of scrambled eggs.
One of Jamaica’s national foods, ackee, naturally, is one of the two key ingredients in ackee and sailfish, while you can also find this fascinating fruit in a range of other savory dishes.
3 – Rambutan
A staple of the Indo-Malay region of Southeast Asia, at first glance, the striking rambutan looks more like a furry creature that needs to be fed and watered, rather than a fruit you can eat! In fact, the name ‘rambutan’ even means ‘hairy’ in the Malay language.
But the rambutan is very much a case of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover,’ as wrapped within its vibrant red skin, covered in spiky hairs, is a delicious, sweet sphere of soft, white pulp, with a similar consistency to lychee.
Rambutan has that ‘sweet and a little sour or bitter’ flavor you would associate with a grape or pear, which pairs wonderfully with its soft, creamy texture.
Naturally, its texture and flavor mean it can be enjoyed just as well raw, as in various beverages, juices, and desserts. However, the rambutan’s sweetness also makes it an ideal ingredient for balancing the heat and spice of a range of savory Indo-Malay dishes, commonly curries.
4 – Mangosteen
Another native fruit of the Indo-Malay area of Asia, both the exterior and the pulp of this deliciously sweet fruit are weird enough to catch your eye.
Nestled within each thick-skinned purple orb, topped with a bulbous green stem, is a bulb of porcelain white pulp, each smooth clove beautifully slotted together.
Renowned for its sweetness, mangosteen fuses elements of both pineapple and peach, creating a moderately sweet flavor that so many in the region love and adore.
If that wasn’t enough, mangosteen’s softness and juiciness make every bite a true enchantment of the senses and a weird fruit that simply tastes divine, particularly for fruit lovers who yearn for texture.
Mangosteen is packed with nutrients and vitamins and hence is a go-to fruit for those looking to improve their general health. While delicious when eaten raw, mangosteen is also a favorite in many conserves, cakes, tarts, and fruit salads.
5 – Buddha’s Hand
Believed to originate from India or China, buddha’s hand is aptly named, with this citrus fruit’s fingers resembling that of a closed buddha hand.
Most varieties of buddha hand contain little to no juice or pulp, making this bizarre-looking fruit the ideal zesty enhancement for a wide range of desserts, beverages, baked foods, and meat-based mains, in a similar vein to lemon or lime.
The buddha hand aroma is particularly pleasant, fusing sweetness and lemon-like tones with the likes of lavender.
Taste-wise it is similar to other citrus fruits in its family, with a classic bitter-yet-sweet taste, with somewhat floral notes.
While it can be eaten raw, buddha’s hand is largely used, as mentioned above, to add plenty of zesty goodness to a wide range of dishes in Asian cooking.
6 – Black Sapote
One glance at the black sapote and it’s easy to understand why this unique and weird fruit has been dubbed the ‘chocolate pudding fruit.’
A tropical delight found in Central and South America, the black sapote’s rich, creamy pulp is so soft, you can literally spoon or scoop it up and eat it there and then, just like a pudding.
While many describe its taste as ‘chocolate-like,’ its pulp has a somewhat mildly sweet taste, with nutty undertones, closer to cocoa rather than fully-bodied chocolate.
Naturally, the black sapote’s taste and texture mean it’s a blockbuster ingredient in desserts such as cakes, brownies, breads, and tarts, but it can also add its sweet, nutty goodness to various milkshakes and juices.
7 – Gac
Health enthusiasts, in particular, will give in to the vibrant allure of gac, as this Vietnamese superfood has exploded in popularity in recent years.
Turbo-charged with antioxidants and sought-after for its beta carotene and omega-3 acid content, the gac can be found across Vietnam, and in Asian food markets across the continent.
However, while its abundant health benefits provide plenty to get excited about, gac’s flavor profile, unfortunately, does little to get the tastebuds tingling.
Encased within its thick, spiked red skin, is a shiny, red pulp that draws similarities to the texture of an avocado, but with a very mild and muted taste, that is difficult to describe as it is so bland.
They do say however that the healthiest of foods and generally not the tastiest, and gac is packed with so much goodness even its edible seeds are used in Chinese medicine.
8 – Jabuticaba
Brazil is a country renowned for its beauty, and jabuticaba, the delightful and plentiful fruit of the Brazilian grapetree, very much stays true to this sentiment.
Resembling giant grapes, the fascinating characteristic of jabuticaba is the way the fruit covers the bark of the grapetrees, like an army of bowling balls.
Jabuticaba can be either red or white, depending on the region. Red jabuticaba have dark, striking red skin, in which you will find an orb of white flesh, with a sweet flavor that’s somewhere between a white grape and a blueberry.
White jabuticaba are similar to their red cousins, but with a slightly bitter undertone to their taste, and a texture that resembles that of a lychee.
A staple of the Brazilian rainforests dating back to the indigenous period, today jabuticaba can be enjoyed in a range of sweet desserts, jams and conserves, and refreshing beverages.
9 – Kiwano
With its spotted and spiked yellow-orange rind, inside which jiggles a beehive-like arrangement of jelly-like lime green seeded pulp, it’s easy to see why the kiwano has a number of names that relate to its appearance, including ‘blowfish fruit’ and ‘jelly melon.’
This weird fruit, so weird it even once featured in an episode of Star Trek, is native to Africa. It has a refreshingly mild taste, with slight sweetness and tartness. It fuses elements of cucumber, its close relative, with slightly sweeter notes, similar to that of a banana or lime.
Its slimy, jelly-like pulp is perfect for scooping up with a spoon and eating raw. While its seeds are not harmful, many prefer to keep the seeds between their teeth, suck out the pulp, then spit the seeds out.
Kiwano is used in a similar vein to many other melons, in various salads, juices, and a range of cocktails.
10 – Australian Finger Lime
This truly unique little fruit’s other name of ‘caviar lime’ makes total sense once you cut the fruit and give each end a little squeeze.
Packed between the green rind are hundreds of shiny, sweet beads of zesty goodness, which look very similar to caviar.
The beads themselves are the finger limes, each containing a tiny pocket of tart, citrusy, and bitter juice, that bursts onto the tongue with explosiveness and intensity.
As with limes and lemons, while Australian finger limes can be eaten raw, the sharpness of the taste can be a little too much on its own.
Instead, finger limes can bring their citrusy flavor and zesty aroma to a range of dishes. Great in desserts such as curd or cheesecake, finger limes also enhance the flavor in salads, seafood dishes, and many more.
11 – Red Bananas
This is not a parallel universe! Red bananas, native to Southeast Asia, may pique your curiosity due to their color, but there’s far more to this delicious fruit than first meets the eye.
A weird fruit rich in nutrients, including potassium and vitamin C, red bananas are believed to be great for a healthy heart and digestive system, while some also believe they lower blood pressure.
In terms of taste, red bananas compare similarly to their yellow cousins. When ripe, red bananas have a soft and fibrous texture and a similarly sweet taste to yellow bananas, but with the addition of a tart undertone, similar to that of a raspberry.
Red bananas are smaller and a little plumper than yellow bananas and can be found in a range of sweet dishes, including juices and desserts, but also balancing the spice with sweetness in various Southeast Asian savory dishes.
12 – Tamarillo
Bulbous and blood-red in appearance, lovers of tomatoes will find a special place in their hearts for the tamarillo, native to the dense rainforests of Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.
Initially, everything about the tamarillo screams danger. Its vibrant red, tough, and inedible skin, coupled with its spiked stem, would make you want to stay away, rather than come closer if you stumbled across this fruit in a forest.
However, peel back its tough skin, and inside you’re treated to a richly colored pulp, dotted with edible seeds, that texturally has the juiciness of a tomato and the crunch of a kiwi fruit. Refreshing and delicious, tamarillo also tastes similar to its cousin, but with more sweetness in each bite.
As with tomatoes, tamarillos can be eaten raw, and used in a wide range of both sweet and savory dishes. From juices to sauces for meat dishes, tamarillo is incredibly diverse.
13 – Korean Melon
No, you have not become a giant and everything looks smaller, you are in fact looking at the beautiful, delicate, and palm-sized Korean melon!
Its white seams, which run the length of the fruit in apparent perfect symmetry, are hypnotic to lay eyes on, while the Korean melon’s bright yellow skin radiates sunshine and healthy vibes.
While its rind is bitter yet edible, the flesh within is what makes this Asian fruit so sought-after. Korean melon pulp has a soft, supple consistency, similar to that of a pear, while its taste fuses cantaloupe with the sweet undertones of banana, and the crispness of cucumber.
Sweet and refreshing, Korean melons are much smaller than your average cantaloupe or honeydew melon, snuggling fitting in the palm of your hand. It can be enjoyed raw, and in a range of salads, smoothies, juices, desserts, and sorbets.
Weird Fruits Summary
Is your mind blown enough yet? Because I feel like I’ll never look at fruit in the same way again!
But while there is a certain novelty to the weird and wonderful shapes and colors of these fruits, their importance in their native cuisines should never be understated.
This is why travel can bring such wonder to our lives. It opens us up to new experiences and discoveries. These whacky and wonderful fruits offer such nutrients, goodness, and joy, and help add a wow factor to so many dishes and foods in countries across the globe.
Wherever your travels take you, keep your eyes peeled for these unique foods in food markets, restaurants, and festivals, and be sure to try them if you find them.
You Might Also Like to Read
- Tropical Fruits You Need to Try
- South American Fruits That Will Blow Your Mind
- Asian Fruits You Must Try
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Author: Dale Johnson is a content writer, strategist, and keen foodie who has traveled to over 30 countries.
Images licensed via Shutterstock