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22 Colombian Fruits and Their Culinary Applications in Local Cuisine

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Updated on 02/16/2024

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How many Colombian fruits do you know? Well, I’ll tell you that there is so much variety in the country that you could eat a different type of fruit every day for more than a year.

So today, I’ll tell you about the main Colombian fruits and some lesser-known ones. Also, about the preparations in which you can find them.

Diversity of Fruits in Colombian Territory

Colombia is a country known for its impressive diversity of fruits due to its varied geography, extensive agriculture, and a range of climates from sea level to the highlands of the Andes.

Therefore, there are many to taste! There are more than 433 endemic fruits in Colombia, making it the world’s leader in fruit diversity per square kilometer.

These fruits are part of the daily lives of Colombians and are consumed whole or in typical preparations, whether sweet or savory recipes.

Generally, we tend to buy and consume only a few varieties of fruits, despite the wide diversity that exists. This is influenced by factors such as thermal floors. What exactly are they?

Thermal Floors in Colombia

Thermal floors are a geographical feature used to describe and categorize different elevation zones in a region, based on temperature and climate variations at different altitudes.

In these mountainous regions, like Colombia, changes in altitude are closely related to changes in temperature, vegetation, and other climatic factors. Therefore, they are divided into thermal floors to help understand and classify these variations.

The typical thermal floors in Colombia are:

  1. Warm: This is the lowest and warmest zone, generally at altitudes between sea level and 1,000 meters (3,280 feet). Temperatures are high, and the vegetation is usually tropical.
  2. Temperate: This is generally found between 1,000 and 2,000 meters (3,280 and 6,561 feet) in altitude. Temperatures are more moderate, allowing the cultivation of subtropical products.
  3. Cold: At altitudes between 2,000 and 3,000 meters (6,561 and 9,842 feet), temperatures are cooler. In this zone, the cultivation of vegetables and tubers is common.
  4. Páramo: Located generally above 2,500 meters (8,202 feet) up to 4,000 meters (13,123 feet). Here, temperatures are cold, and vegetation becomes scarcer, with the presence of shrubs, grasses, and frailejones. The páramo is important for water regulation and is home to unique flora and fauna species.
  5. Snowy or Glacier: In areas above 4,000 meters (13,123 feet), there are snow-capped mountains or glaciers, where temperatures are extremely cold, and there is snow and ice.

Of course, it’s worth noting that fruit plants do not thrive in páramo and glacier thermal floors. Fruits mainly grow in warm and temperate thermal floors.

Natural Regions of Colombia

Another important fact is that in Colombia, the territory is divided into 6 natural regions, each with different climates and conditions:

  • Andean Region: Characterized by its mountainous topography (crossed by the Andes mountain range) and includes temperate and cold thermal floors. As you ascend, you find a variety of crops including coffee, corn, potatoes, wheat, and barley.
  • Amazon Region: Covers much of the southern part of the country and is mainly in a warm thermal floor. The climate in this area is warm and humid for much of the year, favoring an exceptional diversity of flora and fauna, as well as exotic fruits.
  • Caribbean Region: Primarily associated with the warm thermal floor. Here, the climate is warm and humid, favoring tropical vegetation. Crops such as bananas, cocoa, and palm oil are planted.
  • Insular Region: Due to its location in the Caribbean Sea, its climate is warm and tropical, characteristic of the warm thermal floor. You’ll see palms, yuccas, and bananas.
  • Pacific Region: On the western coast of Colombia, it is known for having a warm thermal floor and a humid climate. Here, crops such as bananas, corn, rice, and sugarcane are planted.
  • Orinoquía Region: Located in the eastern part of the country, it is mainly in the warm thermal floor. The climate is warm and dry for much of the year, favoring economic activities such as livestock and agriculture. Crops such as cassava, corn, and sugarcane are common in this region of vast savannas.

Common and Exotic Colombian Fruits and Their Uses in Local Cuisine

These are some of the many fruits you can try in Colombia, some common and others less known. You will also see their uses and typical preparations.

Açaí

Region: Amazon.
Thermal Floor: Warm.
Description: Açaí is a tropical and semi-acidic fruit from the depths of the Amazon. It stands out for its unique taste, peculiar shape, and captivating purple color. Its flavor is a delicious mix of fruity notes between blueberries and chocolate, with a slight earthy undertone. It is small and round, with a pit and pulp ranging from dark purples to blacks, giving it its characteristic color.
Uses: Commonly used to make smoothies, açaí bowls, sorbets, and ice creams.

Banana

Regions: Andean, Caribbean, and Orinoquía.
Thermal Floor: Warm.
Description: Banana is a delicious tropical fruit with a very sweet taste and a very smooth texture. It is one of the most consumed fruits in Colombia and the world. It is usually eaten in the morning or as a snack because it provides a lot of energy due to its caloric content.
Uses: A versatile fruit consumed mainly fresh or in smoothies and juices. It is also found in various dessert and dish recipes, such as cakes, puddings, and small tortillas.

Cacao

Regions: Caribbean, Amazon, Pacific, and Andean.
Thermal Floor: Warm and humid.
Description: Cacao is a naturally sweet fruit that has captivated humanity for centuries, characterized by its unique taste, shape, and color. The shape of cocoa seeds resembles almonds, and their color ranges from light brown to black, depending on their ripeness. Its taste is a symphony of nuances ranging from bitter and earthy notes to a gentle touch of sweetness. Its pulp has a sweet taste, while its seed is bitter.
Uses: Cocoa has various uses because both its pulp and seed are used. As many know, chocolate and cocoa are made from the seed of cocoa. With its pulp, many people make smoothies, bowls, and juices, or consume it fresh. In Colombia, we often prepare a chocolate drink for breakfast and add cheese to melt into it.

Coco

Regions: Caribbean, Pacific, Insular, and Amazon.
Thermal Floor: Warm.
Description: The coconut is a neutral tropical fruit with a rounded and fibrous shape. It is covered by a hard and rough shell. Inside, it contains the most valuable parts: a white and juicy pulp, as well as the refreshing liquid found in its central cavity.
Taste: Coconut has an unmistakable taste. The fresh pulp offers a blend of mild sweetness with a touch of aromatic and creamy notes.
Benefits: It is an excellent source of healthy fatty acids, such as lauric acid, known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties, strengthening the immune system. Also, it is rich in fiber, promoting a healthy digestive system.
Uses: Coconut is used in many forms. You can simply extract its water or, together with its pulp, make coconut milk and coconut cream. Additionally, the remaining parts are often blended to create shredded coconut. These ingredients are commonly used in sweet preparations such as smoothies, cocktails, and juices. However, they are also enjoyed in savory dishes like fish or shrimp coconut stews.

Copoazú

Region: Amazon.
Thermal Floor: Warm and humid.
Description: Copoazú is a sweet tropical fruit, and its pulp is similar to that of cocoa. Its appearance is somewhat peculiar, with a rough and thick skin that hides its soft and creamy pulp inside. The fruit has an oval or pear-like shape and an outer surface that can vary in color from light green to dark brown.
Taste: Copoazú offers a unique palate experience. Its pulp, as mentioned, is soft and creamy, with a flavor combining chocolate, pineapple, and banana notes. It’s a true delight for lovers of exotic flavors.
Benefits: It is a source of antioxidants, such as catechins and epicatechins, combating oxidative stress and promoting cellular health. It is also rich in vitamin C, reinforcing the immune system.
Uses: It is used to make smoothies, juices, and desserts. Many people consume it fresh.

Corozo

Region: Caribbean.
Thermal Floor: Warm.
Description: This sweet tropical fruit resembles a grape. Its shape is similar to a small nut or drupe, usually dark brown. The corozo’s pulp is inside this hard and resistant shell and is brightly colored in yellow or orange.
Taste: The corozo’s pulp is sweet and slightly acidic, with a flavor combining blueberry and apricot notes.
Benefits: Besides its distinctive taste, corozo provides several health benefits. For example, it is a good source of vitamin C, strengthening the immune system and promoting skin health. It also contains antioxidants, such as carotenoids, protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Uses: Corozo is used to make fresh or fermented drinks. It is also used to prepare cocktails, jams, ice creams, and desserts. On the Colombian coast, many people consume the fruit fresh.

Curuba

Regions: Andean and Caribbean.
Thermal Floor: Temperate and warm.
Description: This acidic fruit is similar to granadilla or passion fruit, with many seeds coated in pulp. Its shape is elongated and curved, similar to a cucumber, with yellow or orange skin often covered with a soft layer.
Taste: Curuba’s pulp is juicy and tangy, with a flavor combining passion fruit, lemon, and strawberry notes.
Benefits: Curuba provides multiple health benefits. It is a source of vitamin C, strengthening the immune system and contributing to skin health. There are scientific studies suggesting it may have anti-inflammatory properties and help reduce blood pressure.
Uses: Curuba is used in juices and smoothies. Due to its acidity, it is not common to eat it fresh. People often blend it with milk and sugar or condensed milk to reduce the acidity and consume it as juice.

Feijoa

Region: Andean.
Thermal Floor: Cold and temperate.
Description: Feijoa trees are abundant in the Andean region. Its shape is oval, and the fruit is the size of a small egg, with thin and wrinkled skin ranging in color from green to yellow-green.
Taste: Feijoa offers a unique taste experience. Its pulp is juicy and bittersweet, with a flavor combining pineapple, strawberry, guava, and mint notes. Generally, it is an acidic fruit, and when ripe, it can be very sweet.
Benefits: It is low in calories and a source of fiber, aiding digestion and providing a feeling of satiety. Additionally, it has been associated with anti-inflammatory properties and has been used in traditional medicine to alleviate digestive and respiratory problems.
Uses: It is consumed fresh, in juices, and ice creams. Its skin is very acidic, so many people extract the pulp. Like curuba, feijoa juices are made with milk and sugar to remove the acidity.

Granadilla

Region: Andean.
Thermal Floor: Temperate.
Description: Granadilla is a sweet round fruit, very similar to passion fruit, with a hard and thick yellow or orange peel protecting its pulp. The pulp is full of seeds and has a gelatinous texture.
Taste: The pulp is soft, tangy, and refreshing, with a mildly sweet and sour flavor.
Uses: It is usually eaten fresh, and in some cases, very rarely, in juice. The trick to eating granadilla is to suck the pulp and swallow without chewing the seeds.

Guanábana

Regions: Andean and Caribbean.
Thermal Floor: Temperate and warm.
Description: This large acidic tropical fruit has an oval and large shape. Its delicate green skin has a spiky texture. Inside, it has a sweet and sour, white, and soft pulp, fibrous and covering large black seeds.
Taste: Guanábana is known for its delicious taste and texture. The pulp is a delightful mix of sweetness and acidity.
Benefits: Apart from its delicious taste and texture, guanábana is considered a fruit with healing properties, often said to be beneficial for diseases like cancer. It has also been traditionally used in herbal medicine to relieve digestive problems and is attributed certain anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
Uses: Guanábana is used in many Colombian sweet preparations, such as juices, smoothies, sorbets, and desserts. It is a key ingredient in “merengón,” a delicious dessert made with meringues, cream, strawberries, and guanábana.

Guava

Regions: Andean, Caribbean, and Amazon.
Thermal Floor: Warm and temperate.
Description: Guava is a sweet fruit, small in size with small seeds inside. Its slightly oval shape has a green or yellow skin when ripe. The guava pulp is pink or white, with small seeds inside.
Taste: Guava has a sweet, juicy, and somewhat aromatic pulp. It combines sweet and tropical notes.
Benefits: Besides its delicious taste, guava is a great source of fiber, promoting digestive and intestinal health.
Uses: It is used to make juices and sorbets. Also, it is used to make “bocadillo,” a sweet made with its pulp and lots of sugar, wrapped in bijao leaves. It is widely used in bakery recipes, such as “roscones” and typical Colombian pastries like “pandebonos.” Many people make infusions with it because it helps with stomach problems.

Gulupa

Regions: Andean, Amazon, and Pacific.
Thermal Floor: Cold, warm, and temperate.
Description: This acidic tropical fruit is from the same family as passion fruit, often called the “purple passion fruit.” It has a hard shell and inside is an acidic pulp full of seeds. It has antioxidant and relaxing properties and is an excellent source of vitamin C, strengthening the immune system and improving skin health.
Uses: It is used to make juices, infusions, desserts, and froths. Also, you can make sweet and sour sauces for beef or pork.

Lulo

Regions: Andean and Pacific.
Thermal Floor: Warm and temperate.
Description: Lulo is a fascinating citrus tropical fruit widely used in this country, despite its skin having small irritating hairs. It has a round shape and a thick skin that is green or yellow when ripe. The pulp is juicy, green, tangy, and has small seeds. Lulo truly has a unique flavor that combines lemon and pineapple notes.
Benefits: It is an excellent source of vitamin C and antioxidants, making it not only refreshing but also very healthy.
Uses: It is used in juices, desserts, and sweet and sour sauces. In Colombia, there is a famous refreshing drink called “lulada,” made with lulo, lemon, ice, and sugar. Another well-known beverage is “champús,” prepared with corn flour, pineapple, panela (unrefined whole cane sugar), lemongrass, and of course, lulo. Due to its acidity, it is not common to eat it fresh.

Mango

Regions: Andean and Caribbean.
Thermal Floor: Temperate and warm.
Description: Mango is a sweet tropical fruit, and there are many types, some smaller and softer than others. In general, they are oval and orange or yellow. Small mangoes are usually sweeter and fibrous, so they are not as suitable for juices compared to the larger and firmer Tommy mangoes.
Benefits: It is rich in vitamins A, C, and E, as well as minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. These benefit our hair, eyes, and bones.
Uses: It is present in juices, smoothies, sorbets, and vinaigrettes. Due to its sweet taste, it is also used in desserts and sweet and sour sauces for meats or savory dishes. A typical Colombian treat is “mango biche,” a sweet and sour dessert made with unripe mango, lemon, and condensed milk.

Water Apple

Regions: Andean and Caribbean.
Thermal Floor: Temperate and warm.
Description: Although there are many types of apples consumed in Colombia, this is an endemic variety. It is characterized by having red, green, and yellow skin and is usually small in size. Its taste is neutral, its texture is crunchy, and it contains a lot of water.
Uses: Water apple is eaten fresh and in salads or desserts such as pies and cookies. Likewise, you can make sweet and sour sauces for meats.

Maracuja

Region: Andean, Amazonian, Caribbean, and Orinoco.
Thermal floor: Warm and temperate.
Description: Acidic tropical fruit with a round or oval shape and a hard yellow shell. Inside, a viscous pulp ranging from yellow to orange surrounds numerous seeds. It’s not usually consumed by chewing the seeds.
Uses: It is used in juices, infusions, smoothies, shakes, vinaigrettes, and desserts. For example, maracumango (a mix of passion fruit, mango, condensed milk, and ice cream). It is not commonly consumed fresh due to its acidity, although some people enjoy it with sugar by the spoonful.

Papaya

Region: Andean, Orinoco, and Caribbean.
Thermal floor: Temperate and warm.
Description: Large, oval-shaped tropical fruit. Orange and green skin, soft and orange pulp that encases many black seeds. Contains antioxidants such as beta-carotenes that help prevent cancer.
Uses: Used in juices, smoothies, and eaten fresh for breakfast or as a snack.

Papayuela

Region: Andean, Amazonian, Caribbean, and Pacific.
Thermal floor: Cold, temperate, and warm.
Description: Acidic fruit, small in size with great fleshiness, similar to papaya but smaller. Yellow, rigid skin and yellow, hard pulp with sticky seeds.
Uses: Used in desserts, infusions, and jams. A papayuela sweet is often prepared by caramelizing it. It is not consumed fresh directly, as it is bitter and hard.

Pineapple

Region: Andean, Caribbean, and Orinoco.
Thermal floor: Warm.
Description: Sweet and acidic tropical fruit with an oval shape, rigid, and thorny shell. Rich in vitamin C, manganese, and digestive enzymes like bromelain, with anti-inflammatory and digestive properties. It is also a diuretic.
Uses: Consumed fresh, in juice, cocktails, vinaigrettes, desserts, salads, and sweet and sour sauces for meats.

Dragon Fruit

Region: Andean and Caribbean.
Thermal floor: Temperate and warm.
Description: Sweet oval fruit with a rough, yellow, and spiky shell. Contains a white and very soft pulp with many small seeds. Its taste is very exotic and sweet.
Uses: Consumed fresh and used to prepare juices and yogurts.

Tree Tomato

Region: Andean.
Thermal floor: Temperate.
Description: Acidic fruit with an oval shape and a very thin skin that can be red, purple, or orange. Sweet and sour pulp with dark seeds. It is called a tomato because both belong to the same family (Solanaceae).
Uses: Used to prepare juices or consumed fresh, sometimes prepared with milk and sugar to reduce acidity.

Cape Gooseberry

Region: Andean, Caribbean, and Amazonian.
Thermal floor: Temperate and warm.
Description: Acidic fruit growing on small vines, with an attractive yellow color. Small round fruits with an orange flavor combining notes of pineapple and citrus. Thin and shiny skin with juicy pulp and small white seeds.
Uses: Eaten fresh, in jams, infusions, and desserts. Sometimes caramelized due to its acidity.

Sapote

Region: Andean, Amazonian, Caribbean, and Pacific.
Thermal floor: Warm.
Description: Sweet fruit with a hard brown shell containing four large seeds. Orange fibrous pulp with a taste similar to vanilla. Stains light-colored clothing.
Uses: Used to prepare juices, desserts, and smoothies, and consumed fresh.

These are just a few of the many endemic fruits that Colombia has to offer!

Tips for buying and preserving Colombian fruits

Here are some useful tips for buying and preserving Colombian fruits properly:

  • Always look for freshness: When buying fresh fruits, look for those with a colorful, fresh, and vibrant appearance. Avoid those with bumps, holes, or signs of overripening.
  • Buy at local markets: Local markets often offer fresher, more varied fruits at better prices than supermarkets.
  • Taste before buying: If possible, taste a small sample of the fruit before purchasing to ensure it has the flavor and ripeness you desire.
  • Choose seasonal fruits: Fruits are fresher and tastier when bought in season. Research which fruits are in season and buy them at that time for the best quality.
  • Room temperature storage: Many tropical fruits, such as bananas, papaya, and pineapple, should be stored at room temperature until they ripen. After ripening, you can refrigerate them if necessary.
  • Proper refrigeration: Some Colombian fruits, like water apples, mangoes, and lulos, should be kept in the refrigerator to prolong their freshness. Store them in bags or airtight containers to prevent dehydration.
  • Freezing: If you have an excess of fruits, consider freezing them for future use. Peel, cut, and freeze fruits like pineapple to prepare frozen smoothies or desserts.
  • Avoid excess moisture: Moisture can cause some fruits to spoil faster. Use paper towels at the bottom of containers to absorb moisture. Clean fruits with vinegar and a cloth beforehand, ensuring not to wet them excessively, to remove bacteria that can cause them to rot or mold.
  • Inspect and consume regularly: Regularly check your fruits for signs of ripeness, damage, or deterioration. Consume ripe fruits before they spoil and discard any that are in poor condition.
  • Keep fruits separate: Storing fruits in the same place can cause the release of ethylene, which can accelerate ripening and negatively affect other fruits. Separate fruits that release ethylene, such as bananas, from those sensitive to it, such as mangoes, strawberries, tomatoes, and plums.

Colombia is a country you can discover through its flavors. Dive in and explore all the cuisine delights we have to offer. Until next time, traveler!

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About Author

Frank

Frank

Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia.I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia.For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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