The 10 Most Popular Salvadoran Fruits
With its predominantly tropical climate, El Salvador is home to a wide array of delicious, exotic fruits.
These are not only enjoyed raw, but also serve as unique ingredients for popular drinks, traditional Salvadoran desserts, and even local savory dishes. From sapotes to jocotes, these fruits give Salvadoran cuisine a truly unique taste.
Let’s explore Salvador’s native fruits and discover how they are commonly enjoyed by locals.
You cannot visit El Salvador without enjoying this delicious and beloved fruit. Mangos indios o criollos, or Indian or Creole mangos, are the most common variety in the country.
Salvadorans commonly indulge in this fruit when it is semi-ripe or fully ripe. When eaten raw, ripe mangos are sweet, juicy, succulent, and their taste is truly heavenly. They are also an important source of antioxidants and minerals.
Mangos are also used as an ingredient for popular drinks and desserts. For example, you can enjoy a frozen mango daiquiri, which includes mangos, lime, and rum. You can also get more creative and prepare a mango pie with butter cookies. To prepare this delicious dessert, all you need is caramel, vanilla ice cream, melted butter, nuts, and – of course – butter cookies and mangos.
First, you need to grind the butter cookies and blend them with the melted butter and caramel. This will serve as the pie’s base, so you need to use this mixture to cover the bottom and sides of your pan base, or pie dish. Then, you just add the filling, which is prepared with cubes of mango, vanilla ice cream, caramel, and nuts. You also have the option to decorate your pie with caramel and a cherry.
Another popular dessert is mango gelatin. For this, you only need five large mangos, one and a half cups of unflavored gelatin, one can of evaporated milk, sugar, and water. First, you dissolve the gelatin in the water and heat the mixture over low heat. You can remove it from the heat once it is completely dissolved, and you just let it cool. You also need to peel the mangos.
You blend the pulp with the sugar and the evaporated milk until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Next, you need to slowly add the dissolved gelatin. It is important to add it little by little, until the mixture thickens. Then pour the mix into a greased mold and simply refrigerate until it sets. Finally, you can easily unmold, serve, and enjoy this delicious dessert.
Papaya is a very popular and cherished tropical fruit which is native to Central America and Mexico. With its vibrant orange color and its sweet taste, Salvadorans consume it in many different ways. They can enjoy it as a sliced fruit for breakfast or they can blend it into smoothies and juices.
For example, to prepare a refreshing and energizing drink, all you need is papaya and pineapple slices, sugar, and water. You just blend all the ingredients together to get a unique-tasting and delicious beverage.
You can also make dulce de papaya, or papaya candy, which is a delightful and sweet dessert. You need a very short list of ingredients to prepare it: papaya cubes, sugar, and cinnamon. All you do is simmer the papaya cubes in water until they become tender.
Then you add the cinnamon and the sugar. You simply continue simmering until you see that the mixture has thickened into a syrupy consistency. Remove it from the heat and cool it to room temperature. The flavor is exquisitely sweet.
The term sapote comes from the Nahuatl word tzapotl, and refers to a deliciously sweet and soft-fleshed fruit, which is native to Central America.
It has a dark brown outer peel, but the flesh has a lively red-orange color. It is as delicious as its flesh is vibrant. In El Salvador, you can enjoy it as a fresh dessert. You simply scoop out the flesh with a spoon and enjoy its velvety and creamy texture.
You can also add it to ice-cream or milkshakes to get a tropical flavor. To prepare a delicious sapote milkshake, you just require evaporated milk, vanilla extract, ice, and – of course – sapotes. You just have to peel and chop the sapotes and blend them with the other ingredients. You will love its sweet and rich taste.
These small, orange fruits are very popular in El Salvador. When fully ripe, their flesh is sweet and slightly sour. It surrounds a rather large seed. Many Salvadorans enjoy them fresh as a dessert.
Jocotes are also used to prepare other delicious desserts, such as jocotes en miel, or jocotes in honey syrup.
To prepare this, the small fruits are simmered in a very sweet syrup, which is made with dulce de panela, or unrefined whole cane sugar. The syrup also includes water and cinnamon. The taste is sweet and tropical, and it can also be enjoyed as a delicious snack.
Arrayan is a round fruit that resembles a small guava. With its sweet and slightly tart flavor, it is native to Central America and is beloved by Salvadorans. It is typically consumed raw or as a juice.
Fresco de arrayán is a popular beverage made with this unique-tasting fruit. To prepare it, you simply wash the arrayan fruits and remove the stems and the tips. You then blend them with water and sugar.
Bananas are also very common in El Salvador. They are typically consumed as a snack or dessert. They are also used to prepare a typical street dessert: chocobananos, or frozen bananas dipped in chocolate.
To prepare this, you just cut the bananas in half and you simply insert a small, wooden stick into each half. You then dip them in chocolate and refrigerate them.
When fully ripe, plátanos, or plantains, have a delicious and sweet flavor, making them ideal for desserts. Salvadorans love plátanos fritos, or fried plantains. You just cut the plantains in slices and you fry them, to create a sweet and caramelized side dish that can be enjoyed for breakfast or dinner.
This unique fruit is also used to prepare empanadas. These are made from a smooth and sweet plantain base, which is later stuffed with milk custard or fried beans. The empanadas are then deep fried and coated in sugar. This heavenly-tasting dessert can also be consumed as a side dish.
Plátanos en gloria, or plantain in syrup, is another widely-enjoyed dessert which is very easy to prepare. You only need ripe plantains, sugar, cinnamon, and water. You peel the plantains, add the other ingredients, and bring them to a boil. You then let them simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes.
Yet another beloved Salvadoran dessert prepared using plantains is pastel de plátano, or plantain cake. This one-of-a-kind treat features a fusion of plantains, beans, and cheese. You will savor layers of smooth plantain dough, with the cheese and fried beans at its core. Given its subtle sweetness, this original treat is not only enjoyed as a dessert. It is actually a favorite dinner choice for many Salvadorans.
Nísperos are one of the most delightful fruits to savor if you visit El Salvador. Also known as Chinese plums, nísperos enjoy significant popularity in the country.
With their light brown outer peel and yellow-orange flesh, they are typically consumed raw. When they are ripe, they are deliciously creamy and sweet.
Tamarind is a tasty, tropical fruit that offers a delightful blend of sweet and sour flavors when it is ripe. Although it is native to Africa, it is very popular and beloved in El Salvador.
Tamarind candy is deeply cherished by many Salvadorans. It is as sweet as it is easy to prepare. You only need tamarind pulp, sugar, and water. First, remove the pulp from the tamarinds, ensuring the removal of seeds and peels.
Then, combine the pulp with water in a saucepan and cook over a low heat, while stirring continuously. Add the sugar once the pulp dissolves and ensure to mix thoroughly. Once it has thickened to a dough-like consistency, simply remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool.
Here comes the fun part: you shape the tamarind mixture into small balls using your hands and roll them in sugar. You will have a deliciously sweet and sour treat, which has great popularity in El Salvador.
Tamarind is also used to prepare delightful and distinctive-flavored sauces for meals. For example, lomo de cerdo con salsa de tamarindo y ciruelas, or pork loin with tamarind and plum sauce, is an exquisite meal typically prepared for Christmas dinner. It is bathed in this tropical and unique-tasting tamarind sauce.
This mouthwatering and exotic fruit is one of the lesser-known varieties within the passion fruit family. It has an orange exterior, with a gel-like interior filled with seeds. The pulp showcases a delicious blend of sweetness complemented by a subtle tangy note, which makes it an ideal choice for consumption in its raw form.
The juice is truly heavenly, and you have the option to consume it by itself or use it as an ingredient for other popular drinks. For example, many Salvadorans like to include this juice when preparing ensalada, or Salvadoran fruit drink. Delicious and refreshing, this popular drink includes a mixture of fruits, which are diced into small portions and blended with water, sugar, and salt.
El Salvador’s popular and beloved fruits highlight this tiny country’s agricultural abundance. The diverse selection of delicious fruits adds variety and nourishment to the Salvadoran diet. Whether consumed raw, in drinks, desserts, or even meals, these fruits portray the wide array of flavors available in El Salvador’s cuisine.