Piña/ Pineapple The pineapple can be found growing in Dominican Republic. They are vine ripened so this makes them taste so much better than ones you get outside of the country. They can be purchased in almost any spot in the country. Vendors always seem to have them either whole or cut for you to enjoy right on the spot. Do not be afraid to eat the core as it is soft and sweet just like the outside fruit.
Aquacate/ Avocado The Avocado of Dominican Republic is usually quite large and has a much different taste than the ones on the grocery shelves that most people are accustomed to eating. When this creamy, nutty flavored fruit (yes it is a fruit not a vegetable) is in season it can be found in abundance in every market, on the streets and in most restaurants. Dominicans use this beautiful green colored fruit on salads or just eaten plain with a little límon/ lime-lemon to accompany any meal, soup or stew. Make a sandwich using this fruit on some pan de auga and you will be quite pleased. Aguacate is also used in many cosmetic preparations. Just remember, it is fattening (about 75% of an avocado's calories come from fat) so don't over indulge. Avocados have more potassium than bananas, have the highest fiber content of any fruit and are rich in B, E and K vitamins. They are also known to lower the bad cholesterol and help with the good HDL levels.
Guineo/ Banana/ Platano are some of the most recognizable fruits of the world.
Mango is a well known fruit that grows on a tall tree. The tree does make lots of fruits that are very sweet and juicy. The mango makes for some messy eating and it is well worth the mess. I suggest eating it with a knife instead or just biting into the fruit. This way you get all the juice in your mouth and not down the arm. Also the pulp is very stringy and if you don't have dental floss or a toothpick handy you will be digging at your teeth all day trying to remove the little fibers from between and this can get annoying. These fruits are wonderful and refreshing so please do not pass them up. They make a wonderful juice with some ice, milk, and a little sugar in a blender. I live to freeze this milk shake type drink for a freshening icy treat.
Tamarindo / Tamarind is a fruit originally from Africa where it grows wild. The tree is a slow growing type of
Picture if ripe Bananas/ Guineas in a market ready to purchase
Picture of green Platanos (thanks Scott for the picture)
Papaya/ Lechosa is a fruit grown on large trees in tropical climates. There are male and female trees and their offspring are the sweet fruit papaya.Here in Dominican Republic it is called lechosa. It is a large fruit green when unripe. When the fruit is ripe and ready for eating it is soft and yellow with some darker spots here and there. It is best eaten plain and is quite juicy. One of the best ways to serve it is to blend it with some milk or carnation and ice. This is really tasty. The little black seeds inside are sometimes eaten, they have a little of a spicy taste. They are used as a substitute for pepper when dried and ground.
Picture of ripe papaya/ lechosa
Picture of pineapples/ piñas
Here in Dominican Republic we love our bananas. These large, big leaved plants can produce many fruits. They taste better here in Dominican Republic because they are ripened right on the plant and not picked green like the ones shipped to other destinations. Choose a red, yellow or green banana/ guineo which can be eaten without cooking, or a green to yellow platano which needs to be cooked, nothing tastes better than getting it fresh. For platano cooking information check out our recipes page.
Limoncillo was brought to the island in pre-Columbian times and thrives in the Caribbean.It is small round fruit about the
size of a lime. The color is green to yellow and has a hard, thin, leathery skin. Inside the skin you will find a yellow to pinkish, cantaloupe colored almost slimy, translucent flesh. This bittersweet layer of flesh is covering a large brown, hard seed. It is a real treat and the flavor is quite nice, even though there is a little work to removing it from the shell and the seed. But it is worth it and sort of fun to eat.
How to eat Limoncillos - First you have to crack the skin. Usually a little finger nail or a bite will achieve this, and it does make a little crack sound. Then push the insides into the mouth. Make sure not to get any of the juice on your clothes. It does stain. Proceed by moving the fruit around inside the mouth, manipulating it so as to remove the somewhat slimy flesh from the large seed in the center. It does not look pretty at first but once you master this the flesh removal process can go fast. After the flesh is removed spit the seed.
a bunch of limoncillos
When spitting be careful, they are a little large and can hurt (I like to aim them at the garbage can and see if I can hit it. Makes it a little more challenging. LOL/jeje!). The next step is to start the process all over and go for another.
It is also used to make juice, jellies and other tasty items.
The fruit is usually available in July and August. It can be bought on the street in bunches connected by small branches tied with a little twine or grass. A must try!
evergreen that can get quite large. The fruit is sweet with a very ugly appearance. It was introduced to Central America around the 16th century and it has thrived ever since. Though ugly in appearance, they taste much better than they look (when I first saw this fruit it looked to me to be a dirty pod type thing). The pod is ugly and does not look appetizing. The fruit is the same, quite ugly. Yet when you get past its ugliness and taste the sweetness its appearance seems to change to not be quite so unattractive.
Mavi also spelt Mabi (pronounced Ma-Vee or sometimes Ma-Bee), is a staple in the Caribbean. This drink is made from the bark of the Mabi tree is also known as mabetree, soldierwood or seaside buckthorn. This bark is rich in glucosides (what is that you may ask? wikipedia definition here) The bark is removed from the tree and boiled to make a tea. Sugar, usually raw or turbanado sugar is best as it has a little hint of molasses to it. Many make this tea into the fermented drink by adding some yeast and letting it sit for a few days uncovered. It can also be made into a non-fermented drink as well. It is said to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and to make men more potent.
In Dominican Republic Mavi is usually made locally and can be purchased in the Colmados and corner markets. It can be found in most any type of bottle as the maker uses what is available. It is very refreshing and can be sometimes potent so beware.
top - Picture of a banana / guinea tree with baby bananas and seed pod.
left - a platano tree with plantains growing
+click image to enlarge
Picture of a avacado/ agucate tree
+click image to enlarge
Tamarindo/ Tamarind tree in background
The tamarindo fruit grows in pods on the tree. This pod has a brown shell covering the brown fruit which in turn covers the seeds inside. When the pod is mature it turns a dirty brown. It is filled with seeds, usually between 3 to 6. These seeds are surrounded by a brown, fibrous pulp. When it is ripe the shell of the pod is sort of brittle and can be removed easily. It breaks off and sometimes just falls of when touched roughly. The inside, surrounding the seeds, is the sticky pasty pulp. This is the edible part. It is sweet and yet sour, acidy and pungent. It is high in Vitamin B and Calcium and can make you a bit relaxed or even tired.
Tamarinds are good eaten fresh and plain. In Dominican Republic the pulp is used to make a wonderful beverage that when mixed with sugar and water is very refreshing. It can be used for cooking and makes a great sauce, jelly and candy. You can also find it in many stores throughout the country in bags with the shell already removed.
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