9 Exotic Fruits in Belize & How Locals Eat Them

— Updated · 5 min read
cacao fruit hanging off tree
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A few exotic fruits in Belize include: craboo, cacao, cashew, golden plum, kenep, mangosteen, noni, starfruit, and soursop.

Find out when they are in season and how the locals eat them.

Craboo

Craboo, known as nance in Spanish, is a small round and yellow fruit with a pungent smell. It has a thin shiny skin with white oily flesh and small black pit.

The texture is that of an old apple and the taste is distinct with an umami and mildly sweet experience.

closeup of craboo fruit
Photo of craboo fruit by Noemie Iris
craboo hanging off tree
Photo of craboo tree by Mark Felix

    June to Aug

    Craboo Season

How is craboo eaten locally?

Craboo is commonly eaten fresh and ripe. Other ways include:

  1. Stewed in a jar with sugar and water
  2. Fermented in vinegar
  3. Crushed in evaporated milk
  4. As craboo wine
  5. As craboo ice cream.
Craboo Quick Facts
TasteCombination of pear, lychee, banana
Other Nameschangunga, muruci, murici, nanche, nance, nancite, chacunga, kraabu, savanna serrette
Species NameByrsonima crassifolia
NutritionHigh in Vitamin C, Fiber, Potassium

Cacao

The cacao tree produces a fruit called a cacao pod which has seeds called the cacao beans. After the cacao bean is roasted, peeled, and made into a paste, it becomes what is called 100% chocolate. The cacao bean is precious and is considered the food of the gods by the Mayans. Besides the edible cacao bean, the sweet white flesh that surrounds it can be eaten upon opening the cacao pod.

cacao fruit hanging off tree
Photo of cacao tree by Martin Chiquin

    All Year Round

    Cacao Season

Remember, what we know as every-day chocolate is, in fact, a processed form of cacao with additional compounds added such as milk and sugar.

How is cacao eaten locally?

Sadly, many locals haven't discovered the magic of cacao. Most of the cacao is only enjoyed by the traditional Maya families and the rest is exported.

Cacao Quick Facts
TasteDark, bitter, like unsweetened chocolate
Other Nameskakaw
Species NameTheobroma cacao
NutritionHigh in Antioxidants, Iron, Magnesium

Cashew

The cashew tree bears a cashew seed + cashew fruit which can both be eaten and used in various recipes. We are familiar with the cashew nut, but that has to undergo a long process before it's edible. Traditionally, the cashew seed is ripped apart from the fruit, sun dried and roasted to remove an external acidic white layer. It's then peeled, roasted once more and then cracked open to reveal the cashew nut.

cashew fruit hanging off tree
Photo of cashew tree by Shan Haylock

    July to Sept

    Cashew Season

How is cashew eaten locally?

Locals eat the cashew nuts after it's been toasted. The cashew fruit is then used to make cashew wine, cashew jam, and cashew stew. Outside Belize, it's normally used as a cheese replacement due to its creamy texture and flavor.

Cashew Quick Facts
TasteNutty, cheesy, buttery
Other Namescaju
Species NameAnacardium occidentale
NutritionHigh in Healthy unsaturated fats, Copper, Antioxidants

Golden Plum

Golden plum or Amabarella is green fruit with a thick leathery skin and fibrous seeds. It's super fibrous. In fact, you'll need dental floss after eating this. When eaten unripe, the flesh is crisp and firm and has a sour taste. After ripening, it becomes yellow, soft and has a sweeter taste. It's a fruit worth the flossing effort.

pickled golden plum
Photo of pickled golden plum by Vicky Forbes
golden plum fruit hanging off tree
Photo of golden plum tree by Priscilla McField

    July to Sept

    Golden Plum Season

How is golden plum eaten locally?

This strange little fruit is normally eaten with salt and chili pepper. It can be eaten ripe or unripened. Sometimes, locals put them in a brine of salt water and pepper to preserve for later.

Golden Plum Quick Facts
TasteSour, acidic, mildly sweet
Other Namesambarella, june plum, caja manga, casharana, jocote de mico, jobo indio, mangotin
Species NameSpondias dulcis
NutritionHigh in Vitamin C, Phosphorous, Calcium

Kenep

Kenep, Kinep or huaya in Belize is one of my favorite fruits. I always enjoyed cracking open the soft green shell and sucking the juicy, gelatinous orange pulp that's inside. It has a seed that surrounds the flesh which you have to spit out, but the flesh to seed ratio is perfect! When ripe, it's bittersweet and juicy in taste.

kenep fruit hanging off tree
Photo of kenep tree by Sally Sally

    May to June

    Kenep Season

How is kenep eaten locally?

Locals love eating kenep just as much as we enjoy eating craboo. It's a pastime for us to grab a bag of these natural treats and eat the entire bag. Finding the ripest and juiciest fruit by observing the quality of the green shell is a fun game to play.

Kenep Quick Facts
TasteSweet, acidic
Other Namestalpa jocote, mamón, limoncillo, skinip, huaya, or mamoncillo
Species NameMelicoccus bijugatus
NutritionHigh in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Fiber

Mangosteen

Mangosteen, not to be confused with a mango, is a tropical fruit originating from South East Asia. It's the size of a Jamaican lime, has thick skin, normally dark red purplish in color and brown when ripe. The fruit pulp is white and soft inside with unevenly divided segments. To open the fruit, use a sharp knife to cut around the middle and twist the two halves apart.

mangosteen fruit
Photo of mangosteen fruit by Sally Sally

    July

    Mangosteen Season

How is mangosteen eaten locally?

Since it's rare, the common way to eat it is raw after it has ripened. The flavors are exquisite.

Mangosteen Quick Facts
TasteSweet and sour
Other Namespurple mangosteen
Species NameGarcinia mangostana
NutritionHigh in Antioxidants, Vitamin C, Folate

Noni

Noni is a stinky smelling fruit that claims to have a plethora of health benefits including being used as cancer treatment. It's likely called noni because it resembles an "anona" which is Spanish custard apple.

noni fruit hanging off tree
Photo of noni tree by Sherry Nyberg

    All year round

    Noni Season

How is noni eaten locally?

Locally, noni is used as plant medicine. It is normally mashed up and taken in spoonfuls as medicine in the morning and evening. Locals combine it with other flavors to make it more pleasant. Alternatively, it is used as wine.

What is it believed to treat?

Noni and its juice is claimed to be used to treat cancer, diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol problems, high blood pressure, HIV, zheumatism, psoriasis, allergies, infection, and inflammation. It's believed that the fruit can relieve sinus infections, menstrual cramps, arthritis, ulcers, sprains, injuries, depression, senility, poor digestion, atherosclerosis, addiction, colds, flu, and headaches. It is further claimed that the juice can heal scratches on the cornea of the eye. This mouthful of information comes from an old local blog post.

Noni Quick Facts
TasteStinky cheese, bitter
Other Namesmorinda, Indian mulberry, beach mulberry, cheese fruit
Species NameMorinda citrifolia
NutritionRich in Antioxidants, Vitamin C, Biotin, Folate

Starfruit

Starfruit is a unique fruit that resembles a star when cut in cross-section. The entire fruit is edible. The outside has a somewhat waxy skin and the flesh is crunchy, firm, but super juicy. When ripe, they turn yellow and brown from the unripened green color.

starfruit hanging off tree
Photo of starfruit tree by Marie Christie

    Nov to Jan & May to Aug

    Starfruit Season

How is starfruit eaten locally?

When in season, starfruit is normally eaten raw since the whole fruit is edible. We don't do it much, but juicing starfruit would be a good idea along with using it as garnish for drinks and salads.

Starfruit Quick Facts
TasteCombination of apple, pear, grape and citrus
Other Namescarambolo, balimbing, ma fen, kamaranga
Species NameAverrhoa carambola
NutritionHigh in Vitamin C

Soursop

Soursop is a fruit that resembles a green egg with spikes from the outside. The inside has a white pulp or flesh that is both sweet and sour with a core of indigestible black seeds. The leaves, when boiled as tea, are also claimed to help treat certain type of cancers.

soursop fruit hanging off tree
Photo of soursop tree by Estela Gongora

    March to April

    Soursop Season

How is soursop eaten locally?

Soursop is delicious when eaten raw but locals prefer preparing it as a juice and even better, as ice cream. It's common to find homemade soursop ice cream at small stores or sometimes sold by vendors on small pickup trucks selling on the streets.

Soursop Quick Facts
TasteSweet, sour, like natural ice cream
Other Namesguyabano, guanábana, anona, graviola, and corossol
Species NameAnnona muricata
NutritionHigh in Vitamin C, Antioxidants

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