Monday, September 5, 2011

Ecuador – Exotic fruit tasting

What can we do on a rainy Sunday in Baños? Why not go to the market and buy all the exotic fruit that we've never tasted before? This definitely sounds much better than walking in the rain, watching TV, or reading a book.
So off we go to the famous weekly Sunday market and stroll up and down the aisles spotting fruit we want to sink our teeth into. We haggle a bit with the local women, ask them to help us choose the fruit that is ripe enough to eat immediately. We end up with a big bag full of the juicy mysterious goodies.

Back at our guesthouse, we grab a cutting board, sharp knife, our camera, and request the expertise of the father of the house in order to complete our mission at hand: Photographing, dissecting, tasting, and asking questions about their use and names.

Here's a pictorial of our Sunday fruit bonanza. 

Similar in looks to Papaya (same family but has a, different taste)
Babaco is mainly used for fruit juices, mostly blended with other, sweeter fruits

Taste: like lemonade, with a hint of kiwi and pineapple, very juicy.

Custard Apple is the English name and another Spanish name is Guanábana. It is in the same genus as the Asian soursop but a smaller and has smoother skin.
Chirimoya's white flesh can be eaten plain as a dessert. Just don't eat the black seeds.

Taste: taste of flan or custard with a hint of bubble gum! Slightly gritty texture like a pear with a hint of crystallization mainly near the skin

Tomate de Arbol
Literally translated "tree tomato," sometimes also called Tamarillo.
Tomate de Arbol, is mainly used in cooking or juiced and not really suitable to eat raw.

Taste: Sour, with a hint of tomato, astringent and very bitter.

Similar to Dragon Fruit in South East Asia. It is the fruit of a cactus.
Pitahaya, can be eaten raw as a desert, and is often also used for fruit juice mixed with water or milk.

Taste: Juicier than Asian Dragon fruit but without the musty after-taste, seeds are also softer.

Smells very rancid and is spongy-soft when ripe. This fruit is also available in Asia but we never tasted it before.
Noni, is often used as a health tonic either mixed in stews or blended with other fruit to create a juice blend.

Taste: Unpleasant! Similar to Chinese Liquor "Baijiu"( which can best be described as: Imagine very dirty socks soaked in vodka over a few days, then remove the alcohol part and that's Noni!). Disgusting! We think it could be used as a medicine to induce vomiting. Julane drank it pure, then blended with passionfruit. She also boiled it in water and drank that. Nothing made it taste better. How this could be a health tonic fad, we can't imagine.

A rather uncommon fruit with the shape and size of a Cherry Tomato.
Ovito, is only used in cooking.Rather large pit inside and little fruit pulp.

Taste: like sour plum.

Literally translated "small orange" but that's where the similarities stop. It appears similar to a large firm orange tomato on the outside, inside is greenish orange.
Naranjillas can be used to add some tang to fruit juices or for cooking. It's not really suitable to eat on its own pure.We loved it in ice cream which was green in color...maybe from a less ripe one that we bought?

Taste: very aromatic lemon, quite sour (maybe ours was not fully ripe yet?)

Is part of the Passion Fruit family, but has, compared to the Southeast Asian variety, smoother skin. Its outer shell is yellow and considerably larger and slightly oval compared to the ones we know from Singapore.
Maracuya (like Passion Fruit) can be used for juices, sauces, ice cream, and other creative cooking recipes.

Taste: Typical intense passion fruit flavor, but a bit less sour and juicier.

Is part of the Myrtle family and also called Guavasteen or Pineapple Guava. It is small (around 2 inches) with no pits inside.
Feijoa can be used for juices, as well as eaten on its own, but it doesn't have much substance inside.

Taste: Nice flavor of Guava blended with a slightly unripe Banana tang.