10 Peruvian Fruits You May Have Not Heard Before
When Spanish colonizers first set foot in the Inca Empire, they dreamt of discovering glittering gemstone mines. Little did they know that these fertile lands held treasures far beyond precious stones: Peru’s diverse landscapes teem with an array of unique flora and fauna, and native Peruvian fruits are part of this special ecosystem.
So, hop aboard on a fruity expedition to discover 10 delicious, native Peruvian fruits and explore how the locals enjoy them.
Goldenberries, originally from the Andean heartlands and considered sacred during the Inca era, are small, exotic Peruvian fruits with a radiant, sun-kissed yellow skin concealed beneath delicate light-brown leaves.
These gems, known locally as aguaymanto, have achieved superfood status due to their nutritional richness. Packed with carotenoids, vitamins A, B, and C, and minerals like calcium, iron, and phosphorus, they are an immune system powerhouse.
Aguaymanto offers a sweet-tart flavor profile that can lean towards sweetness or a slight bitterness, catering to various taste preferences. Peruvians enjoy them fresh with the skin on or in delightful desserts such as aguaymanto pie.
Additionally, goldenberries can be turned into delicious jams found on supermarket shelves or sourced dried at local markets, often sold by the pound.
Aguaje, the moriche palm fruit, hails from Peru’s lush jungles. Encased in a rugged shell reminiscent of an armadillo’s armor, it’s no easy feat peeling them, but the effort is worthwhile. Beneath that formidable exterior lies a creamy, intensely golden pulp, akin to the luscious lúcuma.
It’s a vitamin A extravaganza, packing up to 20 times more vitamin E punch than avocados. In the Peruvian rainforest, locals make aguajina, a delicious aguaje juice.
The creamy richness of aguaje makes it a hit for crafting ice cream too, with the Peruvian brand Artika churning out mouthwatering aguaje-flavored ice pops.
Behold the “gold of the Incans,” a Peruvian export celebrated for its versatility. Its appearance? A round fruit wrapped in an olive-green, textured, and thin skin. But it’s the golden, dry, aromatic pulp that takes center stage.
In terms of taste, it’s pure sweetness. Fresh is fantastic, but locals adore it in milkshakes or desserts. Health food shops stock lúcuma flour, perfect for shakes, yogurt, or pancake batter. And because it’s ultra-creamy, it’s the go-to fruit for crafting additive-free, dreamy ice cream.
Here’s the kicker: lúcuma is a nutrient-packed Peruvian fruit loaded with vitamin B3, C, and beta-carotenes. Plus, it’s a dietary fiber dynamo, easing your digestion. But tread lightly; natural sugars abound, so moderation is key.
4. Chirimoya (Custard Apple)
Chirimoya, an Andean fruit with a heart-shaped, green exterior adorned with dark spots, boasts a snowy, velvety pulp bursting with flavors reminiscent of pineapple, strawberry, and banana.
To savor this fruit, simply split it in half, scoop out the delicious pulp, and discard the inedible seeds. Beyond this, chirimoya can be used in various culinary delights, such as mousse and the classic suspiro a la limeña, with the champú of chirimoya recipe standing out as one of Peru’s most delicious and native treats.
Nutrient-wise, it’s rich in riboflavin, vitamin B, vitamin C, potassium, iron, and magnesium, while its dietary fiber aids digestion. It’s important to enjoy chirimoya in moderation due to its high calorie content.
5. Camu Camu
Camu camu is a petite, round fruit flourishing in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Its inky-purple hue and delicate skin hide an intensely juicy and outrageously acidic pulp. In the world of vitamin C, camu camu reigns supreme, dwarfing even the orange by a whopping 60 times. Plus, it boasts essential fatty acids that give your heart a high-five.
Eating it fresh? Not exactly a flavor explosion. However, it’s the life of the party when it comes to crafting zesty juices. In fact, it’s such a hit that Peruvian supermarkets’ shelves display flavored beverages made of this Amazonian superstar.
But there’s more: You can harness the nutritional benefits of this exotic fruit via capsules or powders, sprinkling its health magic into smoothies or yogurt.
6. Pepino Dulce
The sweet cucumber is a Peruvian fruit with a mellow, sweet disposition. Its pale-yellow skin, adorned with linear brown stripes, hints at the treasure within: a delicious, hydrating pulp. It’s a dieter’s delight, with 92% water content and a mere 6% sugars.
While it may not be a dessert virtuoso, it shines in other culinary realms. Eat it fresh or whirl it into refreshing smoothies. And here’s a twist: Peruvians turn it into jams and sweet preserves, or summon the summer vibes by teaming it up with gelatin or crafting mouthwatering sorbets.
Pacay has a rugged, dark-green shell. Within, you’ll find 8 to 12 seeds encased in a snowy, sweet pulp that resembles fluffy cotton. It’s a hydration hero during scorching summers, thanks to its water-packed pulp.
Pacay is also bursting with nutrients. Vitamin C, vitamin B6, iron, potassium, and dietary fiber all make an appearance.
Yacón might look like an ordinary yellow sweet potato, but it’s a hidden gem in local fruit stalls. Its apple-like texture, juiciness, crispness, and sweetness are delightful surprises.
Fresh yacón is delicious, and you can make the most of the entire plant, even its roots. But that’s not all. Peruvians transform it into powder or syrup to wield its natural sweetening powers. It’s a coveted ingredient in the world of natural medicine.
Cocona, known as the “rainforest tomato,” is a unique Peruvian fruit grown in the Amazon rainforest, distinguished by its vibrant yellow color and distinctive, citrusy flavor profile.
Despite its initial lack of sweetness, cocona is a culinary gem in the Amazon region. A dash of salt transforms it into “ají de cocona,” a beloved Peruvian dish. To prepare, slice the cocona, mix its pulp and juice with diced onions, charapita chili peppers, fresh coriander, and a pinch of salt, resulting in a fiery and flavorful accompaniment for various dishes.
Sanky, native to the Andes, is the fruit of the sankayo cactus and boasts remarkable attributes. While its outer appearance resembles that of a prickly pear with its round shape and small spines, its inner flesh resembles the pulp of a kiwi.
This fruit is renowned for its juiciness, low sugar content, and a mildly acidic flavor profile. It is commonly enjoyed fresh or in the form of refreshing juices. Sanky is reputed to reduce hunger, quench thirst, and possess healing properties, all while serving as a potent natural antioxidant.
Furthermore, it packs a punch as an antioxidant, surpassing bananas in potassium content. It also contains vitamin C and saponins that offer a thorough scalp cleanse, preventing excess oil and dandruff, which is why you can find sanky-based shampoos. With a high concentration of ascorbic acid, it is also a valuable resource for preventing scurvy.
So, whether you’re savoring these fruits fresh, indulging in their delectable desserts, or exploring their health benefits in various forms, Peruvian fruits offer an extraordinary journey for the senses and the soul. As you embark on your own fruity expedition, remember that each bite carries a piece of Peru’s natural and cultural heritage, making it a truly unforgettable experience.