This goes deep into describing El Salvador fruits!
What happens when a Puerto Rican is surrounded by dozens of Salvadorans? Well, being as nice as they are, they make sure you taste some of the culinary offerings of the country.
They will offer you some delicious typical dishes (that’s a given). But, they will also make sure you taste some of the fruits they enjoy on a daily basis. For first or second time visitors, these fruits may be perceived as exotic. Even after growing up on a tropical island, I found the fruit variety in El Salvador mind-blowing.
Most of the times I have visited, I was the only foreigner among a sea of locals. Believe me, they made sure I tried a lot of fruits.
El Salvador Fruits
Here are some of the ones I have never tried before visiting El Salvador. How many of these have you tried?
Mamey (mammee apple) is one of the most beloved fruits in El Salvador. Don’t get confused. For Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and other Latin Americans, mamey is a different fruit (Pouteria sapota which Salvadorans call sapote).
The mamey I am referring to is an evergreen tree native to tropical South America. To my surprise, this fruit is closely related to the mangosteen (a fruit I love).
My husband insisted that I had to try at least a piece of mamey. So, we found one in the market. Ohhh, it was delicious. I can eat and eat this all day. Try it if you have the opportunity.
A piece of advice: mameys are hard to peel. You may need to ask for help.
Other Names: Mammee, Mamey Apple, Santo Domingo Apricot, South American Apricot.
Interesting Fact: The Kolashampan, which many consider the country’s national drink, is infused with mamey flavor.
Photo by Sven Volkens
This fruit is similar in many ways to carob, except that the carao tree only grows in Central America and Hawaii. Carao tastes like a mix of carob fruit and sugar cane molasses. Many ingest it because of its anti-anemic properties.
In El Salvador, carao is usually used to flavor milk (leche con carao) and can be used in a number of recipes that call for milk.
We found carao at a local supermarket and my husband bought a pound. His mom prepared it with milk. I had to pass on this one. The smell was too pungent for me. No wonder I find it so similar to carob.
Other Names: Cañandonga, Caña Fístula Cimarrona
Interesting Fact: A type of carao concentrate is sold for its medicinal purposes (it is quite expensive).
Photo by DXLINH
El Salvador Fruits – Chaparron
This fruit is not well-known or sold in markets. It was introduced to us by one of the guides at El Impossible National Park. We saw tons of bushels while hiking around the park.
My husband and one of his friends picked tons of chaparron berries to eat during our hike. It has a sweet and pleasant flavor. I can see myself eating it on a regular basis.
Interesting fact: Be careful if you use the word “chaparron” in El Salvador. The word is also used to describe a type of moonshine made in the country.
Cashews nuts are some of the most popular (and yummy) nuts sold as snacks. I am sure you don’t have a problem recognizing them. But, do you know the fruit is eaten and used in juices and sauces?
In El Salvador, cashew fruit is known as “marañon” and cashew fruits as “semillas de marañon.”
During a visit to the country, it was cashew season. The fruit was available at every corner. A friend asked me if I have ever tasted it. When I said no, he proceeded to snag one from a tree. The flavor is strong and acidic. I have to say it was not my favorite thing in the world.
In Portuguese, the fruit is known as caju (super catchy word I cannot stop saying it).
Interesting Fact: When eating cashew fruit, don’t let the liquid get to your clothes. Locals affirm it produces stains that would ruin any textile (nothing removes the stain)
Another Interesting Fact: It is very difficult to release the cashew nut from its shell. In industrial settings, heavy machinery is used to open the shell. In El Salvador, people roast the nut in an open fire. After a certain time (they know when is ready), it is easy to remove the shell. I had some prepared and they tasted delicious. I can’t believe I had the amazing opportunity to try them.
This is one of the most popular fruits in El Salvador. The jocote is a species of flowering plant in the cashew family that is native to tropical regions of the Americas. The name derives from the Nahuatl word xocotl, meaning “sour fruit.” After that explanation, I do not have to go into detail about the taste of the fruit.
One typical dish in Salvadoran cuisine consists of a syrup made of unrefined whole cane sugar (panela or piloncillo), jocote and mango.
Other Names: Red Mombin, Purple Mombin, Hog Plum, Sineguela, Siriguela
Photo by gnexus
Fruits in El Salvador – Marañon Japonés
In this article, I am using the names Salvadorans give to the fruits. This one is known as Japanese Marañon. I have no idea how they came up with that name.
In Puerto Rico, we know this fruit as pomarrosa. Its widely accepted name is Malay apple. I have actually tried it in Thailand. It has a pleasant and refreshing flavor. This is another one I like a lot.
I was able to find the fruit on a market.
This one is closely related to the marañon japones or pomarrosa. It is even known as “pomarrosa” in some countries. Its generic name is rose apple. We were also introduced to this fruit at El Imposible National Park. To me, it has a lemony flavor and smell (which is weird).
Interesting Fact: Salvadorans have a vulgar name for this fruit. They call it manzana pedorra or fart apple. I am not kidding. They call it like that. Apparently, it has “certain” effect on your digestive system.
Let me first say this is not a fruit. It is a pod holding a row of “beans” which are coated by a fluffy, light and sweet substance that resembles a marshmallow pocket.
When you get a fresh pod, you only consume the white covering. Kids love to munch on this. You cannot eat the remaining “beans” or seeds because they are hard as a rock. They must be boiled until they are soft, and can then be consumed with salt and lime. Nothing is wasted in this country.
Photo by gnexus
Arrayan is a small, rounded fruit with acid and sour taste. To me, it looks like a diminutive version of guava.
The fruit can be eating in its entirety (seeds and everything). In El Salvador, the fruit is pressed to prepare juice (similar to agua fresca) or raspados (snow cones).
Others prepare the fruit in jams or in syrup.
Oh my! I feel in heaven every time I have the opportunity to have granadilla juice. And, this is not a surprise since I have always been a fan of passion fruit. And, granadilla is closely related to passion fruit (they are on the same genus, passiflora).
Like passion fruits or pomegranates, granadillas are full of seeds covered by a thin membrane. The thing is that granadillas are sweet instead of tart. Some people eat everything inside the granadilla. I am too picky for that.
But, the juice, oh, the juice! It is so good!
You can have the juice by itself or in an ensalada (a typical drink prepared with juice and chopped fruit).
Photo by Edgar Zuniga Jr.
El Salvador Fruits – Manzanilla
The manzanilla is a fruit typically eaten in syrup or “honey” (manzanilla en dulce or manzanilla en miel). The fruit is boiled until tender and peeled. After that, it is returned to the water and boiled with sugar, cinnamon sticks and strawberry essence. The high pectin content of the fruit gives a syrupy texture to the final product. The essence gives the dessert its characteristic red color.
The manzanilla is known in other countries as tejocote, a word from the Nahuatl meaning “stone fruit.” In Mexico and Guatemala, it is used to prepare a traditional drink called ponche. This drink is usually served during the Christmas season and on New Year’s Eve.
Photo by Daniel Manrique
In general terms, Annona is a genus (family) of flowering plants which includes over 160 species.
In El Salvador, several species are consumed. It is difficult to find out the scientific name of these fruits since different species look very similar. The white Annona consumed seems to be known in English as sugar apple (Annona squamosa, the most widely grown species in the Annona genus). However, seems like cherimoyas (annona cherimola) are eaten too.
Pink Annonas seem to be preferred by Salvadorans. Some research indicates this fruit is called ilama (Annona diversifolia).
Nances are very popular in El Salvador and Central America. The fruit, resembling a yellow cherry, is sold fresh in markets and street carts all over the region.
In addition, the fruit is used to prepare juice, carbonated beverages, ice cream, and raspados (snow cones). It can be prepared in syrup like the manzanilla or used to infuse liquors.
The nispero or loquat or Chinese plum has origins in China. Nowadays, it is consumed worldwide.
In El Salvador, it is eaten mainly raw. It is also known as nispero japones or sapodilla nispero.
Fruits El Salvador – Guinda
Guindas or star gooseberries are extremely sour. People tend to eat them with salt and chile to balance the flavors. A thirst-quenching juice can be prepared by adding the correct amount of water and sugar.
In Asian countries, the fruit is prepared candied, pickled or used in relishes, chutneys and sauces.
Other names: Otaheite gooseberry, Malay gooseberry, Tahitian gooseberry, Country Gooseberry, Starberry, West India gooseberry
The matasano or white sapote has one of the most peculiar names on this list. Matasano can be translated to English as “kill a healthy person.” The name comes from the fact that the seeds of the plant contains several active histaminic compounds. If eaten or chewed, they will make a person sleepy.
The properties on the white sapote were well-known in pre-Hispanic times. That is why the Nahuatl name is cochitzapotl, meaning sleep sapote.
Other names: Casimiroa, Mexican Apple
The sincuya is another Annona consumed in El Salvador (Annona purpurea). It is also known as soncoya or cabeza de negro.
Yet another fruit that is loved by Salvadorans (my husbands talk about how good it tastes all the time). The pepenance is a round, yellowing fruit resembling an apricot.
Other names: Tallow wood, Hog Plum, Yellow Plum, Sea Lemon, Pi’ut
Photo by Bob Peterson
Other Fruits in El Salvador
Other fruits found in El Salvador include rambutan (mamon chino), passion fruit, pineapple, guava, coconut (and coconut water), mangoes, bananas, zapotes (the fruit that in Mexico is known as mamey) and papaya.
In terms of exotic fruits, you may find things like jabaticaba, papaturro, caimito, sunsapote, and copinoles in markets or in the streets.
Well, what do you think of all this variety? Fascinating, right?
Even though I felt like a guinea pig sometimes, I was glad I had the opportunity to try all these (except the carao, no, no).
More of El Salvador
Food in El Salvador: Best Dishes, Desserts, and Drinks
What do you think about El Salvador fruits? Let me know in the comments section below.