Typical Peruvian Fruits
Thanks to Peru's three main climate zones, coast, highlands and jungle, a great variety of fruits can be found in the country. Some are native to Peru, exotic or rarely known abroad others can be seen in every (super) market around the world. While you can buy bananas, apples, pears, grapes, passion fruits, papayas and many more common fruits on the Peruvian markets as well, have a look for some special and unique fruits coming originally from Peru or being important ingredients in the local cuisine.
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The Peruvian lime is only around 3 to 4 cm, has a yellow to dark green skin and a light green inside. The key lime might be the closest lime variety to the Limon Peruano. But the Peruvian Lime is highly acidic, extremely sour and has an incomparable, distinct and strong flavor. Limon Peruano is one of the key ingredients in Peruvian cuisine.
Lucuma is a subtropical fruit native to Peru and known as well as "the last gold of the Incas". Images of it have been found on ceramics of ancient Peruvian cultures. The round or ovoid fruits are green with a yellow to orange, fibrous flesh. Lucuma has a unique flavor of maple and sweet potato. Peruvians love their Lucuma, but it's rarely eaten raw. Instead Lucuma is a popular ingredient for ice cream in Peru and used also in cakes, puddings and desserts.
Chirimoya or Cherimoya, in English also known as Custard Apples, are native to the Andean highlands of Peru. The Chirimoya looks like no other fruit; it’s heart-shaped with rough-textured but thin skin which varies from a yellow-green to a dark green. The inside is white, juicy and fleshy with a creamy custard like texture and dark seeds that look like beans. Chirimoya are sweet and taste like a combination of banana, pineapple, peach and strawberry.
The Aguaymanto is also known as Tomatito Silvestre, Tomatillo, Capulí or in the US as Peruvian cherry or cape gooseberry. The fruit is native to high altitude areas in Peru where it still grows wild and has been cultivated at least since Inca times. The Aguaymanto is well hidden under a non edible paper like skin. When ripe the fruit is of a yellow-orange color. It has a sweet and sour taste and a pleasant flavor.
The Pitahaya, also known as Dragon Fruit, is native to Mexico, Central America and some Southern American countries like Peru. Pitahaya is the fruit of a cactus and comes in three colors: yellow with white flesh, pink with pink flesh and pink with white flesh. In strong contrast to its vibrant exterior the flesh has a lovely mild sweetness and tastes like a cross between a kiwi and a melon. Dragon Fruit is very refreshing and has numerous health benefits.
The pepino or pepino dulce is native to the temperate Andean regions of Peru. The plant is not known in the wild and its origins are unclear. Pepinos come in different sizes and shapes, from small to large, round or oval. Their thin skin is of a deep yellow with purple lines. The brightly orange colored flesh is sweet, firm, very juicy and refreshing. Pepinos have a flavor of a combination of honey melons and cucumber and are very tasty.
Guayabas, better known as guavas, originated in Mexico, but already in ancient times these fruits were cultivated in Central and South America. Remains of the actual fruit and seeds were found during archaeological excavations in Peru revealing that Guavas were part of the diet and natural medicine of Pre-Incan cultures. Thanks to numerous health-promoting qualities and medicinal properties guayabas are yet another super fruit from Peru.
The Camu Camu is native to the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. The fruit is extremely acidic and has a taste comparable to a mixture of a sour cherry and a lime. The unique taste of Camu Camu can best be appreciated when processed in juices, jams, ice creams and yogurts. Camu Camu has an extraordinarily high content of Vitamin C.
Tumbo is part of the passion fruit family. In English it's called banana passionfruit because its size and shape resembles a small thick banana. The orange, passionfruit-like cluster of black seeds and pulp is enclosed by a firm yellow skin. Normally tumbos are quiet acidic and tart, therefore seldom eaten raw. You can best enjoy the flavor of Tumbo when processed to refreshing juices, jams and ice cream.
Moriche palm trees are native to the tropical Amazon regions of Peru. The palm fruits, which are called Aguaje in Peru, have a reddish-purple-brown tough skin with a texture similar to a pineapple. Beneath the skin is a thin layer of a firm, yellowish-orange pulp which covers a large seed. Agauje is eaten raw, in desserts or used to make juices, jams, ice-cream and an alcoholic beverage.
Capulin is a cherry species. Native to Central America, Capulin has been cultivated since early times and is extensively naturalized over much of western South America. In Peru Capulin is mostly grown in subtropical and subtemperate areas as well as in the Andes. The ripe fruits are red to dark purple in color with a thin, tender skin. The pale green, juicy flesh is rather sweet with a taste of wild cherries.
Cocona is a tropical citrus fruit native to the Peruvian Amazon region. It's considered to be the "Amazon Tomato" often prepared with aji and mixed with salads. Coconas are in size and shape a little bit like a bell pepper and their colors vary from yellow to red with a taste between a lime and a tomato. Cocona is often used to make sauces accompanying anticuchos or fish soups. Great are also juices, jams and dessert made of this fruit.
The Tuna also known as cactus fruit or prickly pear is cultivated in Peru since ancient times. Images of the fruit can be found on textiles of cultures like the Wari, Chimu and Incas. The fruit is oval with a thick skin, green or orange to red in color. The bright red to purple inside contains many small seeds and tastes similar to a juicy, extra sweet watermelon, when processed to jams, jellies, juices or alcoholic beverages a little bit like strawberries and figs.
Noni, commonly known as Indian Mulberry or Beach Mulberry isn't originally native to Peru, but finds its use quite often in dietary supplements. The fruit is more or less the same size as a potato. It has a yellow to white color. Nonis taste very bitter and smell awful. Anyhow the fruit is famous for its health benefits and used in juices, teas and natural medicines.
The tomato is native to South America and found its way to Mexico around 2000 years ago. After the Spanish colonization of the Americas the tomato was distributed around the world. Taking genetic evidence into consideration in the Peruvian highlands direct ancestors of todays tomato, a small green fruit, were harvested and consumed already in ancient times.
Olives are native to the coastal areas of the Mediterranean. Brought to Peru by the Spanish conquerors 500 years ago, today Olives are an important ingredient in the Peruvian cuisine. The big and meaty Peruvian Aceitunas find their use in ground meat dishes like Papas Rellenas or Empanadas and as garnish on dishes like Papas a la Huancaina or Causa Limeña. They are added to salads and cream cheeses or cheese spreads.
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