Let’s Get Fruity! Top 20 Must-Try Gorgeous Fruits in Taiwan

BY WENDY HUNG

 

Taiwan fruitsJust this morning, I had the most amazing breakfast: all fresh from this season. On my plate were: a green orange, a giant persimmon, an even bigger pomegranate and a luscious dragon fruit. That’s only a smidget of what I grew up eating.

Taiwan isn’t known as “The Fruit Kingdom” for nothing. Although a high percentage of fruit vendors sell imported produce, Taiwan is naturally a subtropical zone and an ideal land for growing all kinds of tropical fruits. With mountains 4,000 meters above sea-level, and breezy cool climates from such mountains; Taiwan is a tropical island perfect for temperate-zone fruits as well.

So the next time you visit Taipei, don’t just indulge in what you know. Taste all that Mother Earth has granted this small but gorgeous island. Guavas, mangos, lychees, papayas are just for rookies! Here’s a colorful list of all things you must try on your next big trip to my fruity island!

 

1. Shoot for the stars with Star Fruits

They have a slightly waxy skin with crunchy flesh. Although it contains lots of juice, it lacks fiber. The sugary taste isn’t overpowering, at times, I would venture and say it tastes…salty. But definitely worth a few experimental slices!

Image courtesy of loveff168.pixnet.net
Image courtesy of loveff168.pixnet.net

2. Sweet and adorable Wax Apples

They’re shaped like bells and each fits perfectly into any palm. They’re sugary and absolutely delicious. Look for “black pearls” wax apples, they are the most sought-after kind (with a purplish-red color) and can only be found in Taiwan.

Image courtesy of bohas.pixnet.net
Image courtesy of bohas.pixnet.net

3. Don’t envy, eat Green Mangos

Smaller than typical red mangos, they’re also sweeter, containing a lot of juice. It’s the perfect summer fruit to chew on but be careful, it can get real messy!

Image courtesy of cksmom.pixnet.net
Image courtesy of cksmom.pixnet.net

4. Sugar-Apples, aka, “Buddha’s Head”

Because they’re shaped like it! They are fragrant and sweet. Insides are custardy, creamy, and filled with seeds. They are delectable summer-to-autumn fruits, take a spoon and just go for it!

Image courtesy of efarmer.taitung.gov.tw
Image courtesy of efarmer.taitung.gov.tw

5. Go easy breezy with Yellow Watermelons

They’re lighter and more fragrant than red watermelons. In Mandarin, we call them “jade watermelons” because of the color resembling an emperor’s robe. Must note: these make great smoothies as well!

Image courtesy of 8hao.cnool.net
Image courtesy of 8hao.cnool.net

6. Milk Pineapples are a special breed

No, it’s not really milk with pineapple, but it sure is high quality and absolutely delightful! The meat inside is pearly white, with a sweet and light smell. You’ve got to try it to believe it.

Image courtesy of nameiyuan.com
Image courtesy of nameiyuan.com

7. Guavas exist all over, but the ones in Taiwan are particularly sweet

If you are lucky enough to find ones that are pink inside, they are even sweeter. Some texture are crispier or mushier than others, and sizes vary as well. But they’re all over, many Taiwanese plant guava trees (instead of apple) in their backyards!

Image courtesy of icefruit4u.pixnet.net
Image courtesy of icefruit4u.pixnet.net

8. Same with Papayas…

Again, also prevalent in other countries. But the ones in Taiwan are more sugary and some have rouge flesh. Unlike in Thailand where green papayas are used for salads, Taiwanese papayas are perfect for creamy smoothies or they’re completely amazing on their own as a fruity snack.

Image courtesy of fooding.com.tw
Image courtesy of fooding.com.tw

9. Durians are smelly but they are indeed the king of all fruits

Spiky like porcupines on the outside. If you can get past the revolting smell, the insides are sweet like honey. They make the perfect frozen ice cream. Don’t be an ignorant traveler and make disgusting faces as you walk by a stand. Try first, then judge.

Image courtesy of thatsilvergirl.blogspot.tw
Image courtesy of thatsilvergirl.blogspot.tw

10. Dragon Fruits are gems!

They look like fireballs on the outside but offer breezy, fresh bites of summer goodness. Make sure to peel the pink skin off, then dive into an interior of polka-dots. They make gorgeous summer salads as well!

Image courtesy of gdhytv.com
Image courtesy of gdhytv.com

11. Muskmelons whiff of the garden

Taiwanese like to slice these babies up after heavy meals as a refreshing replacement for chocolates or cakes. Muskmelons in Taiwan have smooth skins and each comes in the size of a fist. Much smaller but just as sweet.

Image courtesy of houso39.blogspot.tw
Image courtesy of houso39.blogspot.tw

12. Loquats taste like graceful combos of: peaches, citruses and mangos

Imagine that! Also called, pipa (No, not Middleton) have yellow to orange skins, which are quite thin and need to be peeled off. They also make yummy jams and chutneys.

Image courtesy of tw.knowledge.yahoo.com
Image courtesy of tw.knowledge.yahoo.com

13. Pomelos are Mr. Populars during Moon Festival every early autumn

They’re the largest citrus fruits and are typically seen in pale green to yellow when ripe. The skin is quite thick so it takes a village and a half to peel but the flesh is white and incredibly delish. Worth the peeling effort for sure!

Image courtesy of 17life.com
Image courtesy of 17life.com

14. Longans, also known as, dragon eyes. They’re little ‘bros to lychees!

Darker shells, smaller in size, super sweet flesh with pinball-size seeds (hence, dragon eyes). Just like their older brothers, lychees, longans are beyond delicious and to-die-for. Dried longan also make gorgeous soups and hot teas.

Image courtesy of blog.roodo.com
Image courtesy of blog.roodo.com

15. Jujube are basically what people call dates, but better, which means…

…They’re not dried! The actual fruits that make dates are even tastier than apples. Crisp, fresh, light, juicy. I can live on them for months!

Image courtesy of howsfood.com
Image courtesy of howsfood.com

16. “Beauty Tangerines” are no ordinary citruses

They are larger than tangerines in the U.S., and totally sweeter than any other regular oranges. The skins are thicker, but easy to peel. Best part: no seeds! If so, very little.

Image courtesy of benlai.com
Image courtesy of benlai.com

17. Lychee (not from a can) are naturally sweet and juicy. I emphasize, naturally…not.from.a.can.

Unlike the ones we’re used to seeing in martinis now, they’re transparent if purchased fresh from the market. The taste is delicate and the smell is lovingly floral. They’re the perfect summer treats!

Image courtesy of ctcbreward.yam.com
Image courtesy of ctcbreward.yam.com

18. Asian pears usually have brown or yellow skin, and they’re not used in pies!!

Because of their high water content and crisp, grainy textures, they’re normally served raw and that’s the only way you’ll want to appreciate them.

Image courtesy of etmall.com.tw
Image courtesy of etmall.com.tw

19. Sapodillas are called “people heart fruits” (人心果) by locals because of their hearty shapes

With 2-5 seeds inside, they taste like extremely ripe pears. Dried sapodillas by themselves or made into cakes are quite popular. They’re intense and make for perfect afternoon snacks.

Image courtesy of backpackers.com.tw
Image courtesy of backpackers.com.tw

20. Sugar canes make the best fresh juices!

You can easily find them at street vendors or local markets. After the seller shaves off the purple bamboo skin, he’ll also chop them into stick-like pieces so you can chew, suck up all the juices then spit out the dry parts. So local, but that’s the way you gotta do it!

Image courtesy of lilyfruit.com.tw
Image courtesy of lilyfruit.com.tw
11 Comments
  1. What time of the year are they all in season? I’m planning a visit, and I want to make sure I can take full advantage of the local fruit. 🙂

  2. Hi Esther! I’d say about 75% of these fruits are in season now. Just head to a local market, one of those street vendors (you’ll see them everywhere) and they’re all laid out beautifully. Have so much fun! Let me know if you need any recs!!

  3. I miss dragon fruit so much! I love the variety with the purple flesh – the paler ones don’t do it for me as much. Custard apples (called sugar apples here) are another favourite. I didn’t use to like mango and papaya until I came here – they always tasted weird in the UK, I guess because of the chemicals used in the importation process. The only other country I’ve been to that has had fruit as delicious as Taiwan is Colombia!

    1. Hi Tom! I absolutely agree! Eating fruits fresh in Taiwan makes a huge difference in taste, can’t replicate it in other countries. Now I can’t wait to travel to Colombia!

    1. Hello Klaus, here’s the name lists –
      1. Shoot for the stars with Star Fruits (楊桃; yang-tao) 2. Sweet and adorable Wax Apples (蓮霧; lian-wu) 3. Don’t envy, eat Green Mangos (土芒果; tu-mang-guo) 4. Sugar-Apples, aka, “Buddha’s Head” (釋迦; shi-jia) 5. Go easy breezy with Yellow Watermelons (小玉西瓜; xiao-yu-xi-gua) 7. Guavas exist all over, but the ones in Taiwan are particularly sweet (土芭樂; tu-ba-le) 8. Same with Papayas… (木瓜; mu-gua) 9. Durians are smelly but they are indeed the king of all fruits (榴蓮; liu-liang) 10. Dragon Fruits are gems! (火龍果; hou-long-guo) 11. Muskmelons whiff of the garden (香瓜; xiang-gua) 12. Loquats taste like graceful combos of: peaches, citruses and mangos (枇杷; pi-pa) 13. Pomelos are Mr. Populars during Moon Festival every early autumn (柚子; yo-zi) 14. Longans, also known as, dragon eyes. They’re little ‘bros to lychees! (龍眼; long-yan) 15. Jujube are basically what people call dates, but better, which means… (棗子; zao-zi) 16. “Beauty Tangerines” are no ordinary citruses (橘子; ju-zi) 17. Lychee (not from a can) are naturally sweet and juicy. I emphasize, naturally…not.from.a.can. (荔枝; li-zhi) 18. Asian pears usually have brown or yellow skin, and they’re not used in pies!! (梨子; li-zi) 19. Sapodillas are called “people heart fruits” (人心果) by locals because of their hearty shapes (人心果; ren-xin-guo) 20. Sugar canes make the best fresh juices! (甘蔗; gan-zhe)

  4. Hi… i’m Adhyt from Indonesia, I live in Borneo. I want to offer to become the supplier of seeds of tropical fruits from Indonesia especially Borneo. I have a lot to send seeds to various countries. I invite you to cooperate, I will give you the cheapest price for you. If you are interested please reply to my email.

  5. This is a very delightful article that also happens to have wonderful photos. I’ve had most of these fruits and after reading your article I want to have the rest.
    One thing that I wanted to point out is that jujube are NOT fresh dates.
    I’ve enjoyed lots of varieties of both these fruits in India and I can assure you that Jujube and Dates are completely different fruits that come from unrelated plants.
    More details on these can be found here
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jujube
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Date_palm

    Thanks again for the wonderful article. Happy eating!!

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