Which of these 12 Thai fruits will be brand new fruity adventures for you? Well, would you eat a snake fruit? What about 2 kinds of apples you’ve probably never heard of? How about a fruit that’s so heavy – and pointy – you’d struggle to lift it?
Whether found waiting for you in a fruit bowl, fresh from nearby fruit trees, purchased from a smiling market vendor or discovered in a Thai fruit salad during a beach breakfast – here are 12 Thai fruits you’ve got to try.
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The top 12 Thai fruits to try
1. Dragon fruit
A fruity ugly duckling story. Dragon fruit (called pittaya in other parts of the world) is the gorgeous product of the ugliest plant you’ve ever seen. Think of Medusa as a cactus and you’re on the right track. While white fruit is most common, you’ll also find purple dragon fruit and – rarer still – yellow dragon fruit.
A Thai fruit that weighs as much as a German shepherd. Only in the tropics! Enjoy the fruit alone or with ice cream; the massive seeds have a variety of uses in cooking. Jackfruit can grow up to three feet long and might weigh up to 80 pounds. Thailand’s jackfruit season lasts into spring.
Let’s double check something crucial. Are you sure you can tell a durian from a jackfruit? Study up – it’s a mistake you’ll only make once!
Mangosteen fruits resemble a little present. Cut through the thick red skin to find a bite-sized treat waiting within. Thailand has a second mangosteen season, in autumn. Freeze-dried mangosteen is a decent substitute if you can’t find it fresh near you.
Expensive, malodorous and possibly a weapon – the durian has seemingly little to recommend it. Be brave – the king of fruits has loyal followers for a reason (just don’t try carrying it home in a taxi). Dare to try it? If you’re a wimp, durian candy and dehydrated durian are a good place to start. Though I can’t stomach the raw fruit, durian chips are unbelievably good (forget kale chips). Coming from an avowed durian-avoider – that’s some strong praise!
Sticky stick stick! Tamarind is tart and tangy when fresh, cloyingly sweet when dried. Bash the shell into pieces and chew pieces of the fruit. Beware of hard seeds hidden within.
Perhaps the most visually striking of Thai fruits – rambutans are also one of the cheapest. A delicious fruit to be inhaled in mammoth quantities. Dig in! Rambutan is cheap and abundant when in season and makes an ideal breakfast.
7. Custard apple
Rip custard apples in two with your hands and eat the insides with a spoon. They’re amazingly good! Want to amp up the gluttony? Look for custard apple ice cream. *Also called sugar apples.
How to try custard apples?
- Grow them: custard apple seeds
8. Rose apple
A crunchy, bitter fruit with a texture like a very moist apple. Thais often top rose apples with spiced sugar.
The biggest citrus is really an improved grapefruit; a pomelo is at once both sweeter and easier to eat. For convenience, buy one that’s already been cut up (stand back and watch Thai supermarket employees wield immense cleavers).
Remove the peel and eat a sapodilla as you would a pear. This fruit makes a forgiving target for Thai fruit carving practice, or, try to grow it yourself from seed.
11. Salak fruit
I’ve saved the weirdest for all but last. While opening a snake fruit’s scaly skin requires some creativity, the neat white cloves of this fruit are a brand new experience. Weirdly tangy in a way that surprises when you reach for another. Persistent peeling should be encouraged. Thailand’s salak fruit season runs from late spring into summer. *Also called snake fruit (because of the skin).
12. Thai bananas
Whatever the number, it’s likely you’ve spent your whole life eating just 1 kind – the ubiquitous Dole Cavendish – and Thailand’s bananas, straight from the tree, are set to blow your mind. Buy Thai finger bananas fresh from a roadside stand, you’ll see!
Recap: The top 12 Thai fruits
- dragon fruit
- custard apple
- rose apple
- salak fruit
- Thai banana