South Florida’s tropical environment grows a flavorful variety of popular fruits—as well as some unique and strange-looking produce. Everyone has tasted a Florida orange, but what the heck is jaboticaba? Here, we take a look at nine fruits that have made a splash here in Southwest Florida.
For more information on growing fruit in Southwest Florida, the Collier Fruit Growers Council nonprofit promotes the progress and awareness of tropical palmology and the diversity of fruit grown in Collier County through monthly meetings and community events open to the public.
What it is: The largest tree-born fruit in the world, weighing as much as 125 pounds. Ironically, it’s related to the mulberry—one of the smallest berries.
Where it’s found: On a small tree.
Flavor profile: Tutti frutti. Think Juicy Fruit gum.
How to eat it: Raw (clean it first) or mixed into desserts like cake or ice cream. When the jackfruit is still green, Jamaicans commonly cut it into chunks and add it to stew or curry it. The seeds can also be cooked and eaten like boiled peanuts.
What it is: Beautiful fruit with an inside color that varies in shades of red.
Where it’s found: On a cactus.
Flavor profile: Similar to sweet kiwi.
How to eat it: Fresh. Add to salads, smoothies, ice creams and martinis. For a cool dessert, cut in half, freeze for 10 minutes then scoop out the inside like sorbet.
The Miracle Fruit
What it is: A very small berry.
Where it’s found: On a slow-growing bush.
Flavor profile: Mildly sweet tang.
How to eat it: Consume it raw, then eat something sour, like a lime or lemon. The sour food will taste sweet, which is how the miracle fruit gets its name.
What it is: A cherry packed with all the Vitamin C you need for one day.
Where it’s found: On a shrub or small tree.
Flavor profile: Sweet and tart.
How to eat it: Raw, but you’ll also find it in modern nutritional drinks like MonaVie.
Head to Page 2 for the 411 on Sapodilla, Peanut Butter Fruit, Black Sapote, Cecropia and Jaboticaba.
What it is: A fruit high in fiber and iron (which is unusual for fruit) with potato-like skin and sap that was used in original chewing gum.
Where it’s found: On a noninvasive, low-maintenance tree that can grow to 80 feet tall (but recommended pruning to 12-15 feet).
Flavor profile: Like a pear steeped in brown sugar.
How to eat it: Fresh, with the skin on (scrub before consuming), picked from the tree before it gets soft. It’s also delicious in smoothies and ice cream.
Peanut Butter Fruit
What it is: A cold-sensitive red berry.
Where it’s found: On a large shrub.
Flavor profile: Has an essence of peanut butter—which makes it perfect for anyone allergic to the actual spread.
How to eat it: Fresh. There’s not a lot of meat on the seed, so pop a few in your mouth and enjoy.
What it is: A nutritious fruit with soft black flesh.
Where it’s found: On an evergreen tree.
Flavor profile: Although it’s no Godiva, it’s certainly reminiscent of chocolate.
How to eat it: Use it in smoothies, brownies or pies, or mix one with a tub of Cool Whip for instant chocolate mousse.
What it is: A cylindrical hanging fruit that almost looks like chicken feet.
Where it’s found: On a tree known for its beautiful, showy leaves.
Flavor profile: Mild, similar to a fig.
How to eat it: Fresh, like a carrot.
What it is: A black-skinned fruit reminiscent of a large grape with—rumor has it—higher antioxidant levels than the acai berry.
Where it’s found: On the bark and branches of a slow-growing Brazilian tree.
Flavor profile: Tangy.
How to eat it: Bite through the tough skin and enjoy raw, or use it to make wine and jams.