We’re all used to regularly seeing apples, bananas and pears in the supermarket, and although tradition can be comforting, it can also get a little boring. If you feel like changing up your weekly grocery list, look out for one of these strange and exotic fruits to liven up your week.
Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis
Where It’s Found: It is believed to have originated in India, where Buddhist monks brought it to China in the 4th century A.D., where it’s still grown today, alongside Japan and California.
Why It’s on the List: Have you ever seen a fruit like it?
Buddha’s hand is so named due to the way it looks: long yellow fingers, clasped together like a hand. They reach about 6-12 inches long and grow in groups of 5-12 “fingers.” While maturing, the plant resembles tiny baby fists. The fruit is believed to bring good fortune, and it is often given as gifts or offerings.
Where It’s Found: South Pacific
Why It’s on the List: Its unusual, freshly baked bread flavor.
Its Latin name, Artocarpus altilis, is derived from Greek. Artos means bread, while karpos means fruit; altilis means fat. It’s a fruit originating in the Pacific islands—later spreading throughout Oceania and the Caribbean—that has been a staple crop for over 3,000 years. It is now grown in many tropical regions, as it is easy to grow and beneficial to the environment.
Breadfruit is starchy and can be treated like any starchy root vegetable: roasted, baked, fried or boiled. Its flavor is described as potato-like, similar to freshly baked bread. Not really what you’d expect from a fruit!
African Horned Cucumber
Where It’s Found: Kalahari Desert, Africa. It is also cultivated in New Zealand, Kenya, Israel and the U.S. as primarily ornamental fruits.
Why It’s on the List: Its alien appearance.
Also known as the kiwano, melano, jelly melon, blowfish fruit, horned melon, and many other names, the African horned cucumber is quite a looker. It is almost otherworldly, with
its bright yellow spikes and gelatinous green interior. You could use it as a prop for a sci-fi movie—and it actually has been, having once turned on an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine posing as an alien fruit. It is grown for its looks as much as its taste. Sweet and tart, the flavor has been described as a combination of banana, cucumber, and lime.
Where It’s Found: West Africa
Why It’s on the List: Its magical taste-altering powers.
The so-called “miracle fruit” may look like a normal berry, but it has one very unusual property: it has the ability to make sour foods taste sweet. Growing on bushy trees native to West Africa, the fruits look like small, shiny red berries and “contain a glycoprotein called miraculin that binds to the tongue and, when triggered by acids in foods, cause a sweet sensation,” according to Smithsonian. The effect lasts between 30 and 45 minutes.
Where It’s Found: Indonesia and Malaysia
Why It’s on the List: Its terrible, horrible smell.
Durian doesn’t look like a very exciting fruit—you could say it’s underwhelming, brown and prickly on the outside with bright yellow flesh on the inside. But it is its smell that people really notice.
Travel and food writer Richard Sterling described it as “turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock.” Others interpret the odor as rotting meat. The smell is so strong, in fact, that the fruit has been banned on public transport in Singapore. But there are some people who love the smell—and its taste—too.