Apples and oranges will appear pretty ordinary after broadening your palate experience with Mother Natures’ wide variety of exotic and delicious fruits. “Oh it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” and I am not talking about Christmas. It is the season where the words juicy, mouth-watering, and oh la la are frequently heard oozing from the mouths of island folk – it is summer and fruit season in the Caribbean.
The summer time in the Caribbean is when our tropical isles are bursting with flavorous fruits. The rise of temperature from the blazing summer heats bring many of us islanders to think about crop-over preparations, carnivals and most of all flaunting slimmer waistlines on our summer bodies as we dance up a storm during these summer festivities. Fruits, generally having positive impacts with their low calorie, low cholesterol and high anti-oxidant levels have been the delicious paths we take in the Caribbean in preparation for our carnival summer physiques. Here are a few of the most popular fruits that islanders wait all year to indulge in:
Mango It is one of the world’s most popular fruit. In the Caribbean it is mostly eaten raw. Some may add salt or chili powder to mangoes that have not fully ripened. Mango is also used commonly used in smoothies and ice-cream to cool the body on a hot day.
Guava It also goes by its alternative name guayaba. This fruit can also be eaten raw, but it is more commonly used to make guava jelly, concentrate juices, and guava duff (popular mostly in the Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos Islands).
Mamey Sapote Its dark brown exterior and shape makes it look like a very large almond. This fruit is not usually eaten raw. In the Dominican Republic it is commonly used to make Jugo de Sapote – a creamy, sweet shake. Sapote, as it is commonly called, can also be used to flavor ice-creams, to make flan or to make mousse.
Tamarind This fruit was brought to the Caribbean from the African tropics. Inside the brown leathery pod is a soft, sticky pulp that tastes sweet and sour simultaneously. Usually only children eat this fruit raw or as a popular popsicle flavor. Tamarind is more commonly used to make jams, candies and drinks.
Cherimoya This fruit is known more commonly by its alternative names – custard apple, sugar apple or sweetsop. It was once referred as “the most delicious fruit known to men” by Mark Twain. Its flavor is like a mixture of banana, pineapple and hint of strawberry bubblegum. This delicious fruit is one that you will care to have its creamy white flesh dipping down your face.
Guinep Guinep is also called limoncillo, Spanish lime, or canepa throughout the Caribbean. It has a jelly-like flesh interior that is sucked off the seed when it is in the mouth. This addictive fruit brings back a lot of memories to island kids climbing up tall trees to fill their backpack with guineps after school. It is one of those fruits that you can never have just one.
Sea Grapes This fruit grows on mostly the beaches. It is the fruit islanders pick to snack on after a nice day out on the shores. Though it is most popularly consumed raw, the older generations like to use it to make jams or to ferment into wine.
Sapodilla This is hands down my favorite fruit. It is more commonly called naseberry in some Caribbean countries such as in Jamaica. Its small, brown, round exterior resembles that of a kiwi. Its tree grows on average as tall as 18 meters, it can be found growing in the back of many island folks’ back yards. The interior is a soft, juicy, and light – to – dark brown color, with the flavor of pear with a hint of cinnamon.
One of the great things about the Caribbean is that most of these fruits, if not all, can be found in all of the countries. There are many other popular exotic fruits that flourish not only in the summer, but all year round in the West Indies, such as ackee, prickly pear, plantain, papaya, sugar cane and the list goes on, and on.
Summer in the Caribbean is not only a time to cool down under a flowing waterfall, or to dance in the streets at the various musical festivals, it is also a time to pamper ones palates by sampling Mother Nature’s exotic and flavorful bounty. Once you have experienced these sweet bliss's, strolling through the produce aisles in modern supermarkets will leave you longing for these wild, local Caribbean fruits.