fruit in peru

We discovered a lot of new fruit in Peru. Visiting markets, seeing people eat it on the street, even keeping our eyes peeled in the mountains, there were many new treats to be had, some unique to this country, some not.

We start with the soursop, a relative of the custard apple. It’s the same general idea – soft white flesh with a black stone in the middle, though a little less custardy in the middle than the custard apple. The taste was sharper and tarter. I found a farm growing these on my hike to Choquequirao. They were ripening while we were there, so there was a couple of occasions where one would just fall from the tree and splatter on the ground below.

In a market in Cuzco, we found the pepino, the grenadilla, and the lúcuma. The pepino, which can now be found in the United States in some grocery stores, is yellow with purple streaks. It has the consistency of a cantaloupe and tastes like a mix between a cantaloupe and a cucumber. It’s cooling and rather nice. Incidentally, pepino means cucumber in most other countries. Here, pepinillo means cucumber. You know, to avoid confusion.

The grenadilla is a type of passionfruit and is one of Chris’s favourites. It tastes similar to other kinds of passionfruit, though – and this was key for her – much less tart. The crunchy seeds are still there. The flesh that you eat is grey, which is a little off-putting, but they are quite tasty. Many people tear a corner off and use them as a cup, eating the innards with a little spoon.

We were alerted to the lúcuma by Dan when I read of his experiences here a couple of years ago. It’s a fruit that we didn’t see anywhere else on the continent – I believe it’s only eaten in Peru, mostly in juices and ice cream. It’s kind of mealy with an orange flesh and it tastes just like maple syrup. With a slight touch of fruitiness. Strange and interesting.

The noni (or ñoni, I can’t remember) is a weird, ugly fruit that we started encountering here in Peru. You don’t eat it – it’s way too hard. Rather, it is usually made into a juice or into a powder (which can later be used for teas or other drinks). It’s supposedly one of the healthy, solve-any-health problem fruits one hears about. There are some benefits to it – when used to make a juice, it has 10x your daily recommended Vitamin C dosage – though I think more research is needed. These are originally from Asia and Hawai’i, and now that I know that, I remember seeing them in Thailand. Strange where you meet fruit these days!

Heading out of the mountains and up towards Ecuador, we encountered the yacón, the tomate de arbol, the camu camu and the persimmon. The persimmon (yellowish-orange fruit at the top left), known as kaki here, is definitely not unique to here, but neither of us had had one before, so it was new to us. Nice and sweet and simple. The camu camu (small reddish fruit at the bottom) was called a plum by the local woman who sold it to us, though we later found that plum seems to be a common word for otherwise unidentifiable fruit (we saw many different ‘plums’ later on). They had a yellow flesh and were quite sweet and juicy with a stone in the middle.

The tomate de arbol (on the ride side, a dusky red) started here and continued right up into Colombia. It’s not usually eaten as a fruit, as the skin is inedible. It’s like leather, I tried it. The inside has the consistency of a tomato and tastes like a mix between tomato and a kiwi. Kind of. I grew to love the juice, though Chris thought it tasted like vomit and avoided it like the plague.

The yacón was another surprise. We found this in a market in Trujillo in the north. I can’t remember if we saw it much more beyond that, however. A sweet, crisp tuber, it’s mostly water an indigestible sugars, but it’s tasty and refreshing. It looks like a potato with a finger when you buy it (the finger has been cut off in this picture), then you peel it and it looks like an Asian pear (or apple pear, as I used to call them as a kid). They’re cool and crunchy and tasty and one of my favourites.

Of course, there was lots of regular fruit in Peru. We had fruit juice as much as possible, as everything was fresh and delicious. Stay tuned for more fruit!

17 responses to “fruit in peru

  1. You might be interested to know that the Spanish name for soursop or custard apple is Guanábana. Also passion fruit can be called maracuya or grenadilla.

    • Thanks Ruth. Actually, guanábana is only the name for soursop. Custard apple is chirimoya, and it is a different fruit (though related). We found both of those names for passion fruit as well, but they referred to different types of passion fruit. (Chris really loved the grenadillas, they were a little sweeter than most other passion fruits.)

  2. hola estero que ustedes me puedan ayudar ando buscando informasion de una fruta peruana me dijeron que sellama siciliano tiene la forma de una pera megustaria tener mas informasion y foto por su alluda muchas grasias . maria de Australia

  3. I lived in peru for a few years and really enjoyed reading about the fruit you encountered there. I really loved the “camu camu” and can tell you it is the only fruit I ever saw called a ciruela in northern peru. Several towns near trujillo have festivals every year celebrating the ciruela harvest. I think they taste like Hawaiian punch. If you like the grenadillas and maracuyas you should try the tumbo. Also the vines on which these passionfruit species grow bloom some of the most beautiful flowers I remember seeing.

    • Ha! Hawaiian punch, I wish I could try them again and compare. We tried the tumbo in Ecuador – I enjoyed it, though I think it’s the sourest kind of passionfruit we found. I love passionfruit flowers as well. Thanks for the comment, glad you enjoyed the entry!

  4. What about the “mamey”? it’s a delicious fruit found in Peru. If you go to the Peruvian city of Iquitos, try the “Pomarosa”. It looks like an apple, but it has a very unique taste, fresh and undescriptable. Also the “Cocona”, is a popular exotic fruit. Finally, coconuts are great in Peru. I’ve never tried coconuts as sweet here in California.

  5. I am very proud of the richness that grows in my country. As you could tried Peruvian fruits are delicious. Lots of colour and flavour. Thre are other many types of fruits. Lúcuma, granadilla, maracuyá, Chirimoya, Guanábana are just a few of them; the best of all is that now people from other countries can have them. Many friends of mine have ordered them, and one of them was so passionate with it that now gets fruits to his country. He told me that this Peruvian website offered quality fruits. It is http://www.elchasky.com/ My favourite one is Chirimoya, it’s just the best!!!!! I recommed it to you, see you

  6. Hi…nice write-up! I remember eating the lúcuma, I loved it! I also liked the custard apple which was slightly different from the ones you get in India. That country is beautiful!
    Sonia
    http://soniarevankar.wordpress.com

  7. It’s grAnadilla, not grEnadilla.
    Jorge
    Canada.

  8. Para MariaUglik,
    Hola soy peruano y vivi 30 años Peru. Llevo 20 en Canada.
    Nunca escuche de alguna fruta con este nombre siciliano. El Peru es muy extenso y hay peruanos de todos los rincones del territorio peruano, por todo el mundo. Tal vez sea un nombre regional con el que se le conoce a este fruto,pregunta a quien o quienes te dieron este nombre de que departamento o region son originarios. Tal vez te pueda ayudar si me das el departamento o region. Sorry about my missing written accents but I am writting in a rush. me puedes escribir a:
    Jkalta@hotmail.com
    Jorge
    Canada.

  9. MARCO ANTONIO PANDURO FLORES

    soy peruano y vivo en la selva peruana…aqui se come muchisimas frutas propias de la selva como la TAPERIBA O TAPISHO, EL MARAÑON O CASHO, EL CHOPE, EL ZAPOTE, EL CAIMITO, LA COCONILLA O COCONA, EL AGUAJE, LA SHICA SHICAEL TUMBO, LA ROSCAPACA, EL SHIMBILLO, ETC.

  10. Pingback: Lima’s Sumaq: almost the perfect airport lounge - Rapid Travel Chai

  11. Does any body know the fruit from comes in a large black curved pod that when you peel it apart there are this white seed about the size of a silver dollar. The fruit is very unusual but the flavor is awesome.

  12. Pingback: Walls of Watermelon, Aisles of Potatoes, Bushels of Chili Peppers and a Lifetime Supply of Mangoes in Lima, Peru | Multiculturiosity

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