Exotic Fruits and Vegetables to Try in the Philippines
The most common fruits in the Philippines are mangoes, pineapples and bananas and vegetables are green beans, morning glory, carrots and cucumbers among many others. But there also exists a whole list of exotic and indigenous produce that you must try and that is much more adapted to the local climate as well as tastier than many of the other European fruits and vegetables that you will find in supermarkets. A lot of the indigenous stuff is found in kiosks on road sides when in season.
Gabi – also called Taro, resembles a sweet potato that would have a purplish skin and white flesh. It has a nutty flavor once cooked. Warning: cook thoroughly since it is toxic when eaten raw.
Malunggay – better known as Moringa in some countries and drumstick in India looks like a thick, long and rough green bean. Once cooked it tends to stay ridged and has a bitter sweet savor. It is hailed as the miracle vegetable for its abundance of vitamins B and C, its iron content and its claimed properties to cure diarrhea.
Cassava– also called Manioc in Africa, is a starchy root vegetable that can be dried and made into a porridge or cooked grated or as is into savory side dishes and deserts. It has a rough brown skin and looks like a long yam.
Kangkong – type of water spinach / morning glory. This is the most common local spinach and is commonly added to many local dishes.
Kamote– this is a kind of sweet potato, much sweeter than yam and with a purple or white flesh and a pink-red skin.
Rambutan– once peeled looks like a lychee, with the same big stone and the translucent flesh. It is less perfumed than a lychee but has a much more interesting exterior aspect that looks like an exotic orange-red flower.
Lanzone – beige in color and has white translucent flesh divided into quarters inside. It has a delicate grapefruit-like taste, except sweeter.
Atis– also known as a sugar or Custard-apple, looks like giant green pine cone. The flesh is white and fluffy with hard black seeds. The taste is similar to a vanilla dessert.
Santol – a wild mangosteen, orange in color and the size of a large tennis ball. The inside hosts an inedible cottony center but the flesh around it when well ripened is very sweet (the seeds though are tart)
Chico or Sapodilla– is a small beige-brown fruit inside and outside has a very sweet caramel tasting flesh with large brown seeds
Aratiles – also known as – Muntingia calabura, resemble cherries on the outside but are crunchy and yellow on the inside, with thousand of tiny seeds.
Durian – a large prickly fruit with soft fleshy seeds. Durian exudes a very strong smell once opened that some characterise as repugnant. But its adepts are fervent and call it the King Fruit. Definitely an acquired taste.