Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Exotic Fruits and Vegetables of Costa Rica

Hello all and Happy Friday. I recently visited a large Farmer's Market in San Jose Costa Rica and was able to sample some fruits and vegetables that I have never seen or heard of before. Today I will share some of my new discoveries with you.

Upon first entering the market I spotted some colorful yellowish orange vegetables that were already cooked and ready to eat. These are called Pejibaye which are a palm tree fruit. While they are a fruit they taste more like a cross between a squash and a walnut. They are often sold already cooked and are excellent with mayonnaise.


 The next vegetable I encountered is called chayote and it is a member of the gourd/squash family. Chayote is very popular in Central America and is often lightly cooked or served raw with salads. While it does not have much flavor, it is a very good source of amino acids and vitamin C.

I couldn't help but notice that there were many stands with squash that looked like a giant zuchini. I first identified this as a zapallo squash but with a little research discovered they are actually called Costata Romanescu Squash.   Although this is not an exotic squash, it does require a long growing season making Central America ideal for cultivation. It originates from Italy and is considered one of the best tasting squashes. This squash will also grow well in the Southern USA.

I spotted another root vegetable that looked like horseradish. I learned that this was not horseradish but was called yuca(not to be confused with yucca), and that it would be one of the ingredients used in Sundays dinner of Baho, a traditional Nicaraguan dish of marinated beef, plaintains, and yuca steamed in a banana leaf. (I'll share this recipe with you in the next blog)  Yuca is not really a vegetable but is the root of the Cassava shrub instead. Yuca tastes much like potatos, are very starchy, and are rich in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C.

One of the most unusual fruits I saw are called Mamon Chino.  Mamon chino looks like a cross between a Sea Urchin and a koosh-ball. They are native to South-East Asia but are grown in abundance in Costa Rica. They have a large seed in the middle and contain mostly a pulpy juice much like a pomegranate.  They taste like sour strawberries and are very popular in Costa Rica.

One last exotic I want to share about today is called Carambola or Star Fruit. and these area also very popular in Central America.  Carambola are among the tastiest of fruits and make a sweet delicious juice that tastes like papaya, orange and grapefruit.  Carabola is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C and although sweet, is actually low in sugar.

Well, that concludes this post.  I hope you enjoy the images and info.  If you would like to know more about Farmers markets, or exotic fruits and vegetables, or to see more images from the market, click the links below. Until then, Happy Gardening :))                                                 

Search for Farmers Market guides USA

 The Great Exotic Fruit Book: A Handbook with Recipes

Search for Exotic fruits


  1. Great job. Thanks for sharing. I also experienced these fruits and vegetables while I was in Costa Rica. They have some others as well, that I hadn't seen before. I'll try to remember to get pictures of them on my next trip. Costa Rica is a neat place.

  2. Thank You and con mucho gusto. Costa Rica is fantastic, its like a gardeners equivalent to Disneyland. I'd love to see your other discoveries:)

  3. wow - so many interesting foods. besides the star fruit - I haven't tried any of the others. yet.

  4. It's my idea of gormet dining Steve. It was my first time tasting many of these foods. It alone was worth the price of the trip.

  5. My favorite fruity snack is Mamon Chino or also known as "Rambutan", since it has an incredibly unforgettable taste. Here is a list of special exotic fruits around the world:

  6. honesty, I wouldn't try some of these exotic fruits, thanks for this topic!