Fruits of Barbados (What the Locals Eat)
Barbados is a small but stunningly beautiful island! The terrain is a lovely mix of flat grasslands and forested areas with chains of hilly terraces. The island has only about 4-5 small natural springs and no volcanic activity – quite unlike all the Caribbean islands, which have some degree of volcanic activity, volcanic soil as well as many natural water sources.
However, despite lacking the advantage of volcanic soil and abundant natural waterways, Barbados still produces a wide plethora of fruits that are the natives’ delight! Below is a list of beloved local fruits and how they are eaten in Barbados.
A common everyday staple, bananas are typically eaten raw as well as mashed up for banana bread. You may also find a small batch of banana rum if you know where to look! Read more about this topic in our story about Barbados rums.
2. Bajan Cherries
This unique variant is much sweeter than the sour one found in several other Caribbean countries. The trees are abundant in Barbados and bear fruit all year round.
Bajans enjoy cherries from tree to mouth. However, they’re far more prized for the cherry juice – a well loved staple for Bajans of every age.
3. Bajan Ackee
This fruit is called genip by the rest of the Caribbean. In Barbados, it is a popular treat eaten whenever it’s in season. It has a sweet, tangy flavor and grows in large clusters. If you can’t find a tree, you can buy clusters in large bags on the roadside or highways and also in rural shopping areas.
Now, although this is technically a fruit, breadfruit is consumed entirely as a source of starch or carbs in Barbados. Depending on ripeness, it can have a light earthy taste or a much sweeter one.
Breadfruit can’t be eaten raw. In Barbados we boil it, mash it with spices, milk and butter to make breadfruit cou-cou – think of sweeter, creamier mash potatoes. Breadfruit cou cou is served with a thick savory gravy of choice.
The fruit is also sliced and fried to make breadfruit chips. We also roast it over wood fires with butter, then top it with pepper sauce or even with roasted or pickled meat.
5. Cashew Fruit
Yes, this fruit is exactly where cashew nuts come from! This fruit is grown mostly in the central parishes of Barbados and is a unique and strictly acquired taste. It “ties your mouth” as Barbadians would say, in the way that an extremely sour fruit would, only the flavor itself isn’t sour!
It is actually quite sweet with an almost rotten aftertaste. Truly an acquired taste! Cashews are typically eaten raw but some have also started to make wines from them.
Although this has nut in its name, coconuts are very much a fruit! The Golden Fruit amongst all the islands one could say… after mangoes that is. Coconut is used in two specific forms in Barbados.
- Green – while the outer hide is still green.
- Dry – when the outer hide has turned dark brown or ash grey.
The water and soft, white jelly collected from the green fruit is enjoyed all day, everyday, exactly as is. Now, the water collected from the dry fruit is much thicker and oilier; this is collected as coconut milk or for oil. In the dry form, the soft jelly in the green form becomes much thicker and harder.
This aged product is finely grated and used as a household staple for several pastries, breads and even in oatflakes! Grated coconut is also key in many unique desserts like sugar cakes and “Black B*tch” – the last two being cookies made with molasses, spices, caramelized sugar, and grated coconut.
7. Fat Pork
A unique name indeed! It is speculated the fruit was named this way due to its texture and pink color, which strangely resembles to pork fat. This fruit is enjoyed by beach goers raw or sprinkled with salt. No other foods are known to be made from or with it.
8. Barbados Gooseberries
These are very different from the common European, UK, and American fruits. Gooseberries are a small, semi flat fruit with several ridges and a very hard pit. The trees fruit with abundance and are usually strung down to the point where the majority goes to waste.
Gooseberries are extremely sour and turn purple when boiled. They are typically used to make gooseberry jam. This jam is not eaten with bread though, it is casually enjoyed on its own in small containers.
Common and available all year round, the grapefruit is enjoyed casually after picking, sometimes with a little sugar if one prefers. It is also used to make grapefruit juice!
Guavas are a slightly more seasonal fruit, usually yielding at specific times instead of all year round like most other Caribbean fruits. Though guavas are eaten as is, skin included, they are also used to make guava jam and even guava cheese.
Guava cheese is like a much thicker, uniform jam that is cut into tiny squares and then covered in sugar. It’s a silky, delicate treat that is enjoyed by many Barbadians.
This is probably the single most popular and beloved Barbadian fruit! Hell, it might just be the same in the entire Caribbean!
Mangoes come in many varieties such as Pawi, Jubilee, Black, Bombay… the list is truly endless! Mangoes are enjoyed fresh off the tree by 90% of Barbadians. The other 10%, as well as the previous 90, love mango juice!
Some also pickle it to make mango salsa – scotch bonnet pepper, salt, lemon juice, onions. A few locals have also adopted Trinidadian mango chutney, which is a sweet and spicy jam made with mangoes. Chutneys are typically used in rotis but can also be used as dips and in sandwiches.
12. Mammee Apple
This fruit has the texture of a pear and apricot hybrid, with the sweetness of both! The longer it ripens the sweeter it gets, going into a truly candied level. Barbadians eat this fruit naturally once ripe.
13. Passion Fruit
Though many eat the passion fruit raw, it is far more loved in Barbados because of its juice! There are several local brands whose best-selling flavors are passion fruit, along with Bajan cherry and mango.
14. Paw Paw (Papaya)
Papayas are a common fruit in Barbados and they are especially loved by the older generation. For some reason there seems to be a strange divide between the old and young regarding this fruit, with most of the younger generation never even tasting it or flat out hating it. The older folks will continue to enjoy it on their own…
Either way, paw paw is eaten raw and is especially used if one has digestion issues or constipation.
Entirely distinct from the varieties found abroad, the Barbadian plum is a small fruit which starts off green, becomes purple when semi ripe and finally become a vibrant red when fully ripe. It is very sweet and citrusy.
The skin is chewy and thick and, unfortunately, it’s more seed than fruit: the hard seed takes up 90% of the fruit. Nonetheless, that doesn’t stop Bajans from enjoying ripe plums by the dozen.
Though not a super popular fruit in Barbados, it can still be locally sourced. This fruit is often confused with the mammee apple as they look quite similar on the outside and they also share a close enough texture as well.
The Sapodilla seed is much smaller and thinner while the mammee apple has a much larger seed. Sapodilla tastes essentially like caramel in fruit form! It’s eaten raw when ripe.
Now, though this fruit is eaten as is when ripe, it is coveted mostly for making soursop punch. The fruit is finely puréed with select spices such as cinnamon, clove and star anise, then mixed with condensed milk and sometimes rum. The result is a flavorful drink which is uniquely creamy, zesty and sweet.
18. Star Fruit
Like the gooseberry, when a star fruit tree blossoms and the fruits start growing, they come in such huge amounts that the majority of them are wasted.
Depending on the variety, these fruits can either be extremely sour or have a mild sweetness like plums or pears. They are eaten as is by Barbadians.
19. Sugar Apple
A true delight, the sugar apple is a sweet, exotic fruit with the texture and taste of a mocha/vanilla flavored custard. It has many seeds – about 50% seed, 50% fruit. The fruit is wrapped around each individual seed in one huge cluster, all enclosed in a unique looking shell.
Sugar apples are often picked green from the trees for safekeeping against birds – truly the devil’s helpers to most sugar apple lovers. After ripening in a dark spot, the soft fruit is enjoyed as is.
These brown fruits come in two common types: the sweet or sour tamarind. While both can be enjoyed straight from the tree, they are mostly used to make a popular candy called tamarind balls.
The tiny balls are made by taking the husked tamarind fruit and mixing it with coarse brown or white sugar as well as cinnamon and cayenne sometimes. The mix is then rolled into balls and the result is a sweet, spicy treat that’s sticky and has a slight crunch from the coarse sugar.
Dunks are a popular little fruit with a hard seed at the center, not unlike a cherry pit. The texture of the fruit is much like an apple and the taste is somewhat similar… Let’s say they’re a tad sweeter, smokier and with a sour twang. They start off green, then slowly turn light yellow or a dark yellow ochre/brown colour when ripe. Barbadians enjoy them straight from the tree or with a healthy sprinkling of salt!
They are often sold on busy roadsides in large bags! If you see them, definitely pick a few or buy a large bag because these fruits are seasonal and are rarely found after the season has ended!
Much like bananas, these are a common staple that can be found all year round. Barbadians eat watermelon as is, at any time of day.