Jamaica is home to dozens of tropical fruits that will bring pleasure to your taste buds and have you longing for more. Though many are not native to the island, they have been around so long that they have become a way of life for the people that call the island home. For many Jamaicans, the calendar year is marked by fruit availability and it is not uncommon to hear of mango season, guinep season etc. For Jamaicans, the references to these fruit seasons are as politically correct as using January, June or any other month of the year.
Here’s a list of ten Jamaican fruits that are a must try when you next vacation in the island.
Jackfruits are large green fruits that can weigh anywhere from one pound to twenty. The jackfruit has a slightly prickly skin that protects the soft inner bulbs that are usually a bright yellow. Though you might initially be turned off by the smell, the sweet flavour of the fruit inside is a treat. Jackfruits come from the mulberry and breadfruit family, and is believed to have its origins in southern Asia.
Otaheite or Jamaican Apples
Dark red to burgundy on the outside, with a sweet white crunchy inner flesh, the Jamaican apple is commonly sold by street vendors when it is in season. The apples can be enjoyed in many ways. They can be eaten raw with the skin still intact, or they can be used to make juices, jams and jellies. Otaheite apples originated in the Pacific Islands but are found in abundance throughout Jamaica, where it is particularly loved by the people.
Another popular street snack, guineps are about the size of a dime or bigger, with a thick green skin. On the inside is a large seed that takes up about 80 percent of the space inside the sac. The seed is surrounded by succulent flesh with a distinct flavor. The flavor is similar to that of lychees, with the pulp being a combination of sweet and tangy. Guineps are very nutritious. They contain vitamins A and C, amino acids, calcium, phosphorus and several antioxidants. Guineps are a perfect snack when travelling.
Also known as sapodilla, the naseberry fruit is about the size of a medium tomato. Depending on the specie, it can have a rounded or oval shape. The outer skin is brown and sandy, while the inner flesh is very soft when ripe, has a reddish brown colour and is very sweet. The taste is a unique one, there is a hint of cinnamon, apples and pear in the flavor. Because of the high sugar content, naseberry is one fruit that you definitely need to stay away from if you’re on a diet. If you have the incurable sweet tooth, then naseberry fruits are perfect for you.
Guavas are a common tropical fruit that has many uses and health benefits. The fruit is usually about the size of a very small orange with a pear shape. The exterior is usually yellow or maroon when the fruit is ripe. The interior is a soft pink or yellow pulp with dozens of small hard seeds. The taste is sweet to tangy. Guavas can be eaten ripe or be made into juices, jams or jellies. Ripe guavas make a delicious and nutritious snack.
Mangoes are very common throughout the tropical region, and Jamaica is certainly no exception. Jamaica is home to more than a dozen types of mangoes ranging from the size of small oranges to larger ones about the size of grapefruits. Mangoes have sweet and juicy inner flesh that is covered by a thin skin that ranges in colour from yellow to green to shades of red. They are nutrient rich and thought to have cancer fighting agents among others. Mangoes taste amazing and are great for you too.
Tamarinds are a legume like fruit that grow on a tree. Tamarinds have a brown outer shell with dark inner seeds that are covered with a dark brown soft flesh that is a mixture of sweet and sour. Tamarinds can be eaten raw but most Jamaicans prefer to have tamarind balls. Tamarind balls are made by mixing the inner pulp of the tamarind with sugar and other spices, then rolling it into a ball. In Jamaica, rum is a popular addition. Tamarinds make great travel snacks as well.
June Plums were brought to the island in 1782 by Captain Bligh and is said to have originated in Hawaii. June plums are about the size of lemons, and can be consumed both green and ripe. The unripe fruit is green in color while ripe fruits are yellow. June plums are commonly used in juices and can be stewed as well. The tart flavor of june plums makes it a favorite snack among many Jamaicans.
Otherwise called sugar apple, the sweet sop is indigenous to the Caribbean region. The fruit has a thick outer green skin that has several raised sections. The inner pulp covers dozens of shiny black seeds and is white and almost creamy. Akin to its name, the sweet sop has a distinct sweet flavor that is somewhat similar to that of a custard.
The star apple is another fruit that’s native to the Caribbean region and is a must try for great taste and nutrition. The ripe fruit is either green or a dark purple depending on the variety. Star apples are similar in size to oranges with a thick skin that protects the inner sap which is sweet and somewhat milky. Star apples are grown on an evergreen tree and is a seasonal fruit. The milky taste of the star apple is unlike any other fruit that you’ve ever experienced and you’re definitely in for a treat!
There are many other amazing fruits that did not make the list, but if and when you are in the island, you should definitely make it a priority to enjoy the fruits of the season. You’ll be happy you did.