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Grown In DR 2

Fruits & Nuts Grown In Dominican Republic

I have listed a few of the incredibly fresh fruits and nuts that are grown here in the Dominican Republic. If you live here be sure to try something new from time to time. If you are visiting it is a must to taste the fresh fruits that are unfamiliar. You will, most of the time, be in for a wonderful surprise.

Limoncillo | Tamarindo | Moringa | Noni Fruit | Almendra


A bundle of Limoncillo fruit ready to eat.
A bundle of Limoncillo ready to eat.

The Limoncillo was brought to the island of Hispaniola in pre-Columbian times and thrives in the Caribbean. It is a small round fruit about the size of a lime. The color is green to yellow with 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 covers a large brown, hard seed. Limoncillos are a real treat and the flavor is pleasant. Even though it takes a little work to remove the fruit from the shell and the seed, it is well worth the trouble. Take your time and just think of it as a fun food to eat. They also use the fruit to make juice, jellies and other tasty items.

How to eat Limoncillos

– First you have to crack the skin. Usually, a little fingernail or a bite will achieve this, and it makes a little crack sound. Then push the insides into the mouth. Proceed by moving the fruit around inside the mouth, manipulating it to remove the somewhat slimy flesh from the large seed in the center. It does not look pretty as your face makes all the strange movements. It will take a few fruits to get it right, but once you master this the flesh removal process can go fast. After the sweet flesh is removed spit out the seed.

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.

The fruit is usually available in July and August. You can buy it on the street in bunches connected by small branches tied with a little twine or grass. A must try!

NOTE – Make sure not to get any of the juice on your clothes. It will stain.

Tamarindo / Tamarind

Tamarindo / Tamarind in the shell pod being sold on the streets of Dominican Republic
Tamarindo / Tamarind in the shell pod being sold on the streets of Dominican Republic

Tamarindo is a fruit originally from Africa where it grows wild. Tamarind was introduced to Central America around the 16th century and it has thrived ever since. The tree is a slow growing type of evergreen that can get quite large. The fruit is covered in a brown shell and has a sweet/sour taste.

The Tamarind fruit is ugly in appearance. Just remember that 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.

Tamarindo / Tamarind pulp fruit being prepared for juice
Tamarindo / Tamarind pulp fruit being prepared for juice

The tamarindo fruit grows in pods on the tree. This pod has a brown shell covering the brown fruit that 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. On the inside of the pod, surrounding the seeds, is the sticky pasty pulp. This is the edible part of the fruit. 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 the 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.

Make some Tamarind Juice/ Jugo Tamarindo.


Moringa leaves in the market
Moringa leaves in the market

Moringa can be found in most of the markets and on the streets of the Dominican Republic. People walk around carrying what looks like a bunch of weeds selling them to eager customers. This fast-growing plant is used for its miraculous healing attributes. It is one of the most nutritious teas in the world.

Much of the moringa plant is edible by both humans and animals. The leaves are rich in protein, minerals and Vitamins A, B and C. According to Wikipedia feeding the high protein leaves to cattle has been shown to increase weight gain by up to 32% and milk production by 43 to 65%. The seeds contain 30 to 40% oil that is high in oleic acid, while the degreased meal is 61% protein. The defatted meal is a flocculant and can be used in water purification to settle out sediments and undesirable organisms.

Moringa is said to help relieve symptoms of AIDS, reduce high blood pressure, lower blood sugar, increase breast milk production, help cure anemia and to help with diarrhea and dysentery.

I like the leaves made into a tea. For more information about this miracle plant, how to prepare and use moringa visit Moringa Matters.

Noni Fruit

Noni tree and fruit with a honey bee enjoying the flowers.
Noni tree and fruit with a honey bee enjoying the flowers.

The Noni tree grows wild in the Dominican Republic. It can be found growing along streets and on the beaches, pretty much everywhere. The plant bears flowers and fruits all year round. It is very stinky when it is ripe with a sort of smelly foot or even vomit odor. Noni fruit starts out green then ripens to a yellowish-white color and is semi-soft to the touch. If you can get past the stink of the fruit is edible either raw, juiced or cooked and the many seeds can be roasted. The fresh fruit and bottled juice can be found in the markets throughout Dominican Republic.

Ripe Noni fruit in the tree
Ripe Noni fruit in the tree

People say the juice of the Noni fruit is very beneficial. It provides energy and is also said to be a great antioxidant that boosts the body’s natural healing process.

For me, I have tried to eat the fruit. I have tried juicing the fruit even trying to mask it with other sweet fruits to hide the taste and smell. I just cannot do it. A friend told me that after time he got used to eating Noni he now eats it right off the tree and he likes the taste. I figure that there are other fruits that have the same benefits that do not smell like rotting flesh or stinky feet so I will pass. You should at least give it a try and see how you feel about Noni fruit. (FYI – Noni is also sold in pill form for those who want the nutrition but cannot handle the smell)

Almendra / Almond

A large Almendra tree growing on Calle las Damas in Ciudad Colonial, Santo Domingo
A large Almendra tree growing on Calle las Damas in Ciudad Colonial, Santo Domingo

Almendra is an edible nut grown on very large tropical trees. The trees produce flowers that are both male and female in the same tree. The fruit grows in clusters that turns from green to yellow and then to red when it is ripe. The outside red covering is soft and has to be removed to get to the hard shell inside. This shell needs to be cracked open and inside is a small single seed. This is the edible nut.

A large Almendra tree growing on the beach of the Caribbean Sea
A large Almendra tree growing on the beach of the Caribbean Sea

These seeds or nuts are not as big as the traditional cooking almond, they are long and thin and have the almond flavor. You can purchase them along the streets and in shops in Dominican Republic. They usually are roasted and salted. If you go to Palenque Beach you can usually find someone always selling these nuts in small bags that they picked and roasted themselves to make their living.

Almendra nuts roasted and packaged ready for eating
Almendra nuts roasted and packaged ready for eating

The Almendra tree is magnificent. Its large canopy of leaves makes it perfect for sitting under on very hot days. The canopy provides much-welcomed shade just be sure to watch out for falling nuts and when they are in bloom you could be covered with little falling flowers.

Did you know?

The locals say that if you soak the leaves in water you can put it on pet’s to wash away fleas.

Sugar Cane

Jugo (Auga) de Caña/ Sugar Cane Juice (Water)

The vendors of Caña and Auga de Caña usually ride around the streets on tricycles carrying what look like large sticks. These sticks are sugar cane in its natural state. On the cart is a grinder / squeezer where the vendor can express the juice from the cane.

Auga de Caña / Sugar Cane Water drink

They also sell cane in bags. The outside brown skin is expertly sliced off exposing the cane inside. They sell the sticky, yellow cane in plastic bags. There are usually 3 to 4 pieces of sweetness to a bag. If the vendor does not give you a second bag ask for one. The empty bag is to spit the pulp waste after eating the cane.

Sugar cane before and after

I love eating these, even though sometimes they make my jaws hurt from biting into the cane. There is a true technique that needs to be acquired when eating the cane. My technique is to bite off a small piece and chew until the juice is out. Then spit the pulp into your second bag. It is best to spit it into the bag instead of into the street, its cane chewing etiquette. It can be difficult trying to get all the little pieces of pulp out of the mouth, but with practice it can be done.

Dominican Food

Dominican Republic Food

1.Breakfast – Desayuno | 2.Lunch – La Bandera Dominicana | 3.Sancocho | 3.Dinner – Cena | 4.Dessert – Postre | 5.Fruits – Frutas and Juices – Jugos |

The food of Dominican Republic / Comida de República Dominicana is a blend of many different cultural dishes all combined to make a style of cooking that is unique to this island. With influences from the Taino Indians, Spaniards, African Slaves and many other immigrants, the Dominican dishes or comida criolla has evolved. The Dominicans have created their own food and cooking styles into dishes that have their own distinctive flavors, tastes and appearances.

Dominican food is high in carbohydrates and starch. Most recipes are not complicated and are made from very natural and locally grown foods that are readily available in gardens, trees and from local vendors. Add a little locally raised meat or a fresh catch of fish, and some sazóne (spices) and you have a typical Dominican meal. Remember that typical Dominican foods are usually not spicy. In local type eateries there is a high chance that you will not see any black pepper. If you ask many will give you a bottle of hot sauce instead. They, in general, do not like their foods hot/ pica.

Salami, Fried Cheese and Platano.
Salami, Fried Cheese and Platano.

Breakfast – Desayuno

Breakfast Dominican style has many options from which to choose.

One of the traditional foods served for breakfast is Mangú, which is mashed plantains with some flavoring added and topped with lots of red onions. The orange squash/ auyama is used to make mazamorra that is also served with onions. Spaghetti is also a favorite of the Dominicans. Fried cheese is also a favorite served with fried salami and eggs. People love their oatmeal/ avena that usually a bit runny cooked with milk and is very sweet. Of course, there is always a good variety of fruits from which to choose. I have seen many people eating Sancocho and Mondongo for breakfast as well. To wash it all down have some jugo de avena, hot chocolate made with water or milk, some fresh juice and of course a hot cup of espresso style coffee made fresh to order.

Lunch – La Bandera Dominicana

La Bandera Dominicana/ The Dominican Flag
La Bandera Dominicana/ The Dominican Flag

The typical Dominican lunch, called La Bandera Dominicana/ The Dominican Flag (La Bandera recipe), consists of beans/ habichuelas and rice/ arroz, meat/ carne or fish/ piscado, and a salad/ ensalada of some sort.

First, the plate is filled with the most rice I have ever seen heaped on a plate. The habichuelas/ juicy beans come in black, red, white or green, depending on the type of bean used. These beans are usually served in a small bowl or cup on the side and you pour this on top of the rice, along with some of the sauce from the meat if you so desire. You eat this with a large spoon and a knife used for pushing the food onto the spoon. The meat is usually cut into pieces and is stewed. The portion size of meat is dwarfed when it sits next to the hugh amount of rice on the plate. There are different varieties of salads that can be served the most popular being, Green Salad / Ensalada Verde, Avacado Salad/ Ensalada de Aguacate, Russian Potato Salad/ Ensalada Rusa, and a boiled salad I love with tayota, carrots and potatoes. When the beans are made just right and the rice has the perfect amount of salt, along with a little concón/ crispy fried rice from the bottom of the pan, this meal is wonderful.

I can see why most Dominicans eat this meal everyday of their lives. It is a joke among my Dominican friends, if they do not eat rice everyday they will not live. After living here for many years I have come to believe this as truth.

Sancocho Dominican style
Sancocho Dominican style


Sancocho is the national dish of the Dominican people. It is made with a variety of meats and vegetables such as pork, beef, goat, fish, sweet potatoes. The recipe for sancocho is on our recipe pages. There is also another type of soup – stew type dish called asopao which is meat, veggies and rice in a flavorful broth. Make some for yourself, here is the recipe for Sancocho.

One of the many night time food vendors.

Dinner – Cena

The evening meal is usually something light because the main meal is served midday. You will see Dominicans eating a sandwich or a soup or stew such as Sancocho.

They do eat full dinners if they go out to a restaurant in the evening but at home it is usually light. Maybe they will pick up a snack on the street such as Chicharones, pasteles en hoja a hamburger or some fruit. Along many of the streets throughout the country you can find small trucks selling all types of fried foods and sandwiches. The roasted pork sandwiches are wonderful. Some snacks/ picadera consisting of olives, cheese and salami to go with a cold drink with friends are also popular.

Dominican-style bizcocho for sale in a Colmado

Dessert – Postre

The Dominicans know how to make desserts and sweets just right. They use all the local ingredients to make candies and cakes like no other place in the world.

Try out a mixture of beans, condensed milk and some other sweet and interesting ingredients. The name of this sweet mix is Habichuelas con dulse (habichuelas con dulse recipe *the link is to the old html web site). It is a traditional dessert served during Easter but can also be found the year round if you make your quest in the right places. It is also made into an ice cream that can be bought at Bon’s Helados. I never thought of beans as a dessert and ice cream. This is a must taste for sure. There is also the Dominican cake called Bizcocho that you can get with or without icing. The Flan is sweet and creamy and the candies made from coconut, papaya, almonds and other local fruits are yummy.

Fresh fruits from a vendor.

Fruits – Frutas and Juices – Jugos

The fruits grown here are the best. There are a wide variety of fruits that you have never seen or heard of before. Some do look ugly but don’t snub them because of the way they look. You have never eaten a pineapple/ piña until you have tried one here in República Dominicana.

The Mangos (season May thru September), of which there are many types, sizes and textures, are wonderful and very messy.

Mangos are best eaten with a knife as the little strings of fiber get stuck in the teeth. Do not let the mango juice get on your clothes because it stains.

Papaya/ lechosa is unbelievably tasty and nothing like what you will find in other countries.

An Avacado grown in DR has so much more flavor than any I tasted elsewhere.

Buy a banana or a peeled orange for a few pesos while walking the street for a quick pick me up. Just make sure that when you visit you do not pass up a taste you will always remember.

Zapote fruit, the beautiful seed inside and some juice blended with ice and milk. Yumm.

You can buy a juice on the street fresh squeezed and many restaurants serve their juices fresh as well.

There are a few different types of oranges. The china, which is the sweet orange, is used to make juice (sometimes it is mixed with sugar to make it even sweeter) and to eat whole. Then there is the bitter orange/ naranja sevillana that is used for cooking.

The Guava/ guayaba, a pink colored, pear-shaped fruit with yellow skin, is wonderful when made into juice or a greenish colored jelly (try it made into a paste and eaten with some cheese, I was shocked that this tastes so good).

I highly recommend everyone tries some zapote juice, the fruit is ugly but the juice is sooo yummy. The Guanabana and Passion fruit/ Chinola also makes a scrumptious juice. To learn more about the products grown in Dominican Republic go to our Grown in DR page.

Whatever you choose to eat while you are in Dominican Republic you should try new things. Things that may look strange to you might be a new yummy for your pallet. Some you might not like but I am sure that most of the cuisine in this country you will enjoy. You should keep your mind open to new taste sensations and try new foods. Whenever you visit a new place it is always important to try something different. You just might be pleasantly pleased. Try going to a restaurant and asking for something typical Dominican. If invited to a persons home for dinner make sure you try everything, no matter what it is. Even if your not crazy about what is served let them know how much you enjoyed everything. They are always hospitable and will probably be watching you while dining to make sure you are comfortable and happy. Many times when you are sitting in a restaurant, having a drink or snack in a Colmado or enjoying any type of food or drink Dominicans will pass by and say “Buen Provecho”. This means “Enjoy your meal”. Dominicans are friendly people and they use this phrase often.

Each part of this small island country has their own foods and recipes. Each dish is cooked in different ways depending on which part of the country you are in and which part of the country the person cooking comes from. There are also have different fruits and veggies that grow and thrive in certain parts of the country. Strawberries are grown best in Constanza, the Bani area is known for its Mangos. No matter where you are in our small island country you will find the most amazing tasting fruits, vegetables and foods all with its own Dominican taste and flavor. Be adventurous and enjoy our original Dominican sabor. Check out our Dominican Recipes and cooking terms.

We have our food words list so you will know how to say the different foods and exactly what they are. Impress your friends…