Exotic Fruits of Mexico – Part 2

Pitahaya (Dragon Fruit)

Pitahaya is a fist-sized flaming pink or green fruit that grows on a cactus native to the Sonoran desert in Mexico.

A ripe pitahaya has a strong flavor and a kiwi-like texture. In Mexico I’ve always seen some that are white inside, but in Guatemala they can be purple and much stronger.

Unfortunately pitahaya is sometimes a little bland, in sharp contrast to its wild exterior. If you get a bland one, don’t despair. When you get a strong, good one, you’ll know it. Keep looking.

They are easy to eat. Just cut it in half and spoon out the fruit.


Papausa is similar to the guanabana (soursop), both in texture and flavor, but it is a different fruit and harder to find. It is the size of a small melon with a greenish-purple, tough looking skin that begins to crack open when it’s ripe.

Papausa grows on a tree native to Central America and southern Mexico — you will find it in the markets of Chiapas in August.

Under the lumpy, cracked exterior is a sweet, ice-cream-like fruit that surrounds smooth black seeds. And you’ll never know until you open it if you have a pink or white one — each has a different flavor.


Rambutans are the size of a golf ball and are easy to spot because they are covered with long red “hairs.” They keep a long time because of a thick skin, and even when the skin begins to turn black, the fruit inside is probably still good.

It’s easy to eat: pierce the skin with a thumbnail and pull the skin apart. Pop the whole fruit in your mouth and eat around the seed. Delicious.

Huayas / Guayas

A distant relative to the Lychee, the huayas grow in bunches like grapes and are usually found for sale on street corners. They have a hard green shell with an off-white flesh inside that surrounds an inedible seed that looks like a garbanzo bean.

While the rambutan and lychee taste somewhat like a grape, the huaya is more sour and has a slightly tougher texture. It’s a little hard to crack open, so try piercing it with your teeth first.


Paterna / Cushin

Paterna, known as cushin in Mayan (in Guatemala), looks like a big pee-pod. Inside is cotton candy flavored fruit surrounding big black inedible seeds. They have a soft texture and a good flavor, but eat too many of them and your mouth will go numb.

Carambola (Star Fruit)

Carambola grows in bunches on tropical trees. They are available year-round in Mexico, but aren’t necessarily so common.

The carambola looks complicated, but it’s not — you eat the whole thing, though they are often quite sour. The carambola may also be used in cooking and can be made into relishes, preserves, and juice drinks.

Guayaba (Guava)

Delicious and nutritious, guayabas in Mexico are usually white, sometimes pink, and are often covered in red spots. While in most places they are between the size of a golf ball and a baseball, in southern Mexico you can find them the size and shape of big pears.

Guayabas are native to Mexico and very common. Available year-round, they are included in most fruit cocktails and are often made into drinks. They have a light, very subtle, almost pungent flavor.

Wash them well and eat the whole thing. The consistency is quite soft except for hard, unchewable seeds that you are tempted to spit out, but there are far too many. So you have to gum them. But if you dig the taste, then getting over the hard seeds is easy. Besides, they are high in vitamin C.

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