15 Popular Guatemalan Fruits You Need to Try
Guatemala is a beautiful country with diverse ecosystems and fertile soils, making it the perfect place for an abundance of fruits to grow. These fruits are not only delicious, they’re also deeply rooted in the country’s cultural heritage.
Here, we explore the most popular Guatemalan fruits, exploring the regions where they grow and discovering traditional recipes that showcase their unique flavors. You might have seen and tried some of them, but you’ll find there are some that are completely new and bizarre. Let’s dive in!
1. Carambola (Star Fruit)
This unique-looking exotic fruit thrives in the coastal regions of Guatemala, especially along the Pacific coast. Even though the star fruit is native to tropical countries in Southeast Asia, it is now one of the most popular locally grown fruits in Guatemala.
In Guatemala, it is often prepared as an ensalada de carambola (star fruit salad). It combines the sliced star fruit with cucumber, jicama, and a tangy lime dressing. The sweet flavor of the star fruit and the other tangy flavors pair perfectly, making it a popular side dish during summer.
The granadilla belongs to the passion fruit family. It has a yellow-orange skin and a jelly-like flesh with seeds.
This fruit is native to South America, but it is cultivated widely in the central highlands of Guatemala, especially around Antigua Guatemala and Quetzaltenango. The temperate climate of these regions is perfect for the fruit’s quality.
This fruit is usually eaten fresh by cutting it in half and scooping out the pulp with a spoon. It is also used in juices and in some desserts like cakes and puddings.
Nance might be one of the most common tropical fruits in Guatemala. It is also found in other areas of Central America and South America because it tolerates drought very well.
In Guatemala, they’re mostly cultivated in the Petén region. The humid conditions in Petén provide the ideal environment for the nance trees to grow. Nances are small, measuring around 1 or 2 centimeters in diameter. They usually grow in clusters, getting a strong odor when they are mature.
Regardless of their strong smell, they taste delicious. It is customary to eat nances raw, although they’re also used for desserts and drinks.
4. Aguacate (Avocado)
Avocado is a popular fruit in many countries, not just Guatemala. However, there is a special avocado variety native to Guatemala.
Avocados are widely grown in the temperate highland regions of Huehuetenango and Chimaltenango. The cooler temperatures at higher elevations offer the perfect conditions to cultivate avocados.
Guatemalans enjoy using avocado for guacamole. The recipe was made famous by Mexico, but it’s been popular throughout Latin America well before it became a global sensation. It is a staple in Guatemalan households, often accompanying tortillas and grilled meats.
5. Zapote Mamey (Mamey Sapote)
It is predominantly grown in the northern lowlands of the country, especially in the region of Petén. It has a sandpaper-like texture, with an orange color and black seeds inside.
In Guatemala, the fruit is usually eaten raw. The pulp is used for smoothies, juices, and even ice creams.
6. Chico Zapote (Sapodilla)
The sapodilla, or chico zapote, is found in many regions of Guatemala, especially in the tropical lowlands.
Even though the chico zapote comes from the same family as the zapote mamey, it tastes very different. It is eaten raw, or used for jams, jellies, and desserts.
7. Piña (Pineapple)
Pineapples are popular all over the world, especially in tropical countries like Guatemala. Guatemala cultivates its own pineapples and the leading farms are located in El Jocotillo, Villa Canales.
There are multiple local recipes that use pineapples to have a sweet and savory twist, such as arroz con piña, which is a rice dish cooked with pineapple.
Jocotes are native to the tropical areas of the Americas and the Caribbean Islands. It gets its name from the Nahuatl word xocotl, which refers to any kind of sour or acidic fruit.
In Guatemala, it is cultivated abundantly in Zacapa and Chiquimula. However, this is a very popular fruit that can grow almost everywhere in the country. Many households have their own jocote trees, and they’re sold on local markets all over the country.
These orange fruits are small and round, with a strong sweet, and tangy flavor. They’re usually eaten raw, but it is tradition to cook them into jocotes en miel, which are jocotes covered in spiced syrup.
9. Nispero (Loquat)
The nispero is very popular in Guatemala. Nispero trees are found all over the country, but they’re especially cultivated in the subtropical zones of Alta Verapaz and Quetzaltenango.
The fruit is small and yellow, and it grows in bunches. Nisperos have a sweet and tart flavor, as is common among many other tropical fruits. Most people eat it raw, but they’re also used for jams and desserts such as pies and tarts.
10. Plátano (Plantain)
In Guatemala, plantains grow in abundance. It is a staple food in Guatemalan cuisine, used for both savory and sweet recipes.
Most plantations are located in the southwest region, by the Pacific coast. The region of Izabal is also home to many of the local plantain farms.
In Guatemala, ripe plantains are fried, boiled, or even mashed. Fried plantains are a popular breakfast food, eaten with cream. There’s also a special dessert called rellenitos, which are mashed plantains filled with sweetened black beans.
Mango is a delicious tropical fruit, popular all over Latin America. Guatemala has multiple mango farms. The mango industry in Guatemala is relatively new, having just started in the 1990s.
Today, however, it’s a staple in many Guatemalan homes. Mangoes grow all over the country, but the main plantations are located in the region of Petén.
There are different varieties of mango, all of which are consumed differently. A popular amongst Guatemalan people is the mango con chile y limón, a street snack that pairs ripe mango slices with chili powder and lime juice.
12. Guanaba (Soursop)
Guanabas, popularly known as soursops, are a local favorite in Guatemala. They grow in trees in the humid lowlands of the country, but especially in the Izabal and Petén regions. There are plenty of guanaba orchards that produce this delicious fruit.
The soursop is a tropical fruit with spiky green skin and soft, white, pulpy flesh. It is known for its sweet and tangy flavor. It is mostly eaten raw, but it is also used for juices, smoothies, and even ice creams.
Annonas are part of the sugar apple family. This fruit is very similar to the guanaba, due to its white flesh and small black seeds. The fruit is cultivated in multiple tropical climates all over the world, but especially in Latin America. In Guatemala, it is mostly cultivated in the department of Izabal.
The annona is characterized by its sweet and tangy flavor. It is eaten raw, and also used for drinks and juices. A popular recipe in Guatemala is the licuado de anona, which is a creamy beverage made by blending annona with milk and sugar. Its tropical flavors are perfect for cooling down on hot days.
14. Pitaya (Dragon Fruit)
The dragon fruit, or pitaya in Spanish, is a tropical fruit that belongs to the cactus family. Even though it is found all over the world, it is incredibly popular in Guatemala due to its intense pink color with green sprouts on the skin.
Dragon fruits grow all over the country, but the regions of Zacapa and Chiquimula grow more due to their arid climates that help the fruit grow.
The fruit typically has a mildly sweet flavor and a texture similar to kiwi. Guatemalans enjoy ensalada de pitaya, a vibrant salad made with dragon fruit, jicama, and a zesty lime dressing.
15. Piñuela (Wild Pineapple)
The piñuela, also known as the wild pineapple, is probably the most bizarre-looking fruit on the list. They may not look like fruits, as they look more like a flower, but they’re extremely popular in Guatemala.
The wild pineapples are mostly found in Guatemala’s coastal regions, such as Izabal and Escuintla. Due to the warm and tropical climate, the fruit can thrive there.
The fruit has a sweet and tart flavor, slightly crunchy due to its seeds. In Guatemala, it’s typically eaten raw. But there’s a special recipe called piñuela fresca, which is a refreshing Guatemalan drink made by blending piñuela with water, sugar, and a touch of lime.
Are You Ready to Try Guatemalan Fruits?
Guatemala is a country with an incredible diversity of fruits, which mirror the richness of its culture and geography. When visiting Guatemala or exploring its local cuisine, be sure to try out any of these locally grown fruits, and don’t hesitate to try the traditional recipes we showcased in this article.