Table of Contents
- Types of Fruit Grown in Peru
- Passion Fruit
- Dragon Fruit
- Prickly Pear
- Apple Cactus
- Cacao Fruit
- Health Benefits of Peruvian Fruit
- Health Benefits of Lucuma
- Passion Fruit
- Dragon Fruit
- Camu Camu
- How to Find Fresh Fruits to Eat in Peru
- When is the Fruit Season in Peru?
- Where can you go to Buy Fresh Fruit in Peru?
- Where to Find Peruvian Fruits at Home
- Final Thoughts
Peru is considered one of the most diverse food locations in the world. With the variety of ecosystems that exist in Peru including the Pacific coast, the Andes mountains, and the Amazon rainforest all within close proximity of each other, this has created one of the most expansive varieties of fruits that exist in the world. Trying all the diverse fruits is one of the best ways the Peru tourism experience.
There are two types of Passion Fruit: Maracuya and Granadilla. This is one of the most common fruits in all of Peru. From the Maracuya variety, the inside of passionfruit can be scraped out and strained to make passion fruit juice or smoothies. This distinctly sour nectar is an extremely common ingredient in both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, as well as in various desserts.
The tumbo variety of passionfruit is called the banana passionfruit in English as it is shaped like a banana. These ones can be consumed raw but are most commonly consumed as a sweet and sour juice as most people think they are too tart to eat on their own. These seeds are edible.
Although avocados are not native to Peru they are found there today. Hass Avocado has been grown in Peru since pre-Colombian times and is an important part of the national diet. Hass avocados thrive in the mild Peruvian coastal climate. They’re typically grown in natural river valleys and modern irrigation districts in areas running nearly the entire length of Peru.
A major advantage is their seasonality for fruit export, which runs from May to August. This helps to complement the Mexican export season for avocados which run from August to May.
The Pitahaya is a fruit that is found all over Peru. It is a sweet fruit grown on a night-blooming cactus. It is grown as the typical pink exterior with a pink interior or yellow with a white interior. It contains a texture that is often compared to the kiwifruit due to its multiple seeds and similar taste profile. The fruit grows in the regions of Amazonas and San Martín, though you can easily find it in markets around Lima.
When looking for Prickly Pear in Peru you will need to look for the name Tuna. This is the edible fruit of the Indian fig cactus. It is essentially found anywhere where cacti grow. Tuna is the shape of a pear with thick skin and is yellowish-green to orange-red color. The inside is bright pink or red and tastes very sweet like a mixture of berries and figs. It is said to be useful in preventing and treating hangovers. It is most commonly used in juices but the seeds can also be eaten after cutting into the fruit.
If you’re eating a mango, there is a good chance that it came from Peru, despite that they are not native to Peru. However, the Spanish conquistadors brought them from India and they have thrived in Peru. Peru is one of the largest exporters of this popular fruit in the world. Most commonly they most commonly have reddish skin with orange pulp. They are most commonly found eaten raw, in ice cream, juice, and smoothies.
Mangoes are grown in the North and Central regions of the Peruvian coast. The season lasts from November to April which is the Peruvian summer. There are more than 24,000 hectares of mango plantations in Peru, making this one of the largest Peruvian exports.
The fruit of the Peruvian Apple Cactus looks very similar to the Dragon Fruit. However, it lacks the leafy scale-like structure and is instead completely smooth and spherical. It has a magenta-red skin that will split open when ripe that reveals a white fleshy interior with tiny black seeds like those of a kiwi. The texture is said to have the consistency of shaved ice, crunchy and juicy, with a subtle tartness and a floral sweetness similar to sugarcane. Similar to Dragon Fruit it can be used in salads, smoothies, salsas, and dessert.
If you like chocolate (and who doesn’t?), Peru is one of the largest producers and exporters of the cacao bean in the world. The export is usually processed as the cacao bean or other product after it has been taken off the cacao bean. Cacao is used during chocolate-making processes and is one of the most nutrient-dense beans in the entire world. Now, if you are looking to try the actual cacao fruit, you will need to make a trip to Peru. It’s nothing like chocolate. It has a white flesh that is sweet and sour.
Lucuma fruit is by far the most popular fruit in Peru. It’s so popular that it is officially the national fruit of Peru. It was a favorite of the Inca and was nicknamed “the last gold of the Inca” by them. It is a subtropical fruit of the Andes valleys with a green skin while it has bright yellow flesh and tastes slightly like a sweet potato mixed with maple syrup therefore is very rarely eaten raw. It is grown on the Pouteria lucuma fruit tree. It is very commonly eaten with ice cream and has become Peru’s most popular ice cream flavor.
Health Benefits of Peruvian Fruit
Because there is such a wide variety of types of fruits that are grown in Peru, many of them have significant health benefits. Many of the world’s superfoods come straight from Peru. The average Peruvian diet was extremely healthy and many of the fruit from Peru can help to eliminate toxins and help cure ailments.
The following are some of the healthiest Peruvian superfoods and how they are beneficial to your body.
Health Benefits of Lucuma
We’ll start with the most popular fruit in Peru as we just finished with it in the last section. Lucuma is packed with antioxidants and vitamins. It has significantly less sugar and table sugar. It is often packed into lucuma powder which is then used as a healthy sweetener and for flavoring desserts and ice-cream.
Lucuma contains 14 trace elements including sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, vitamin B3 and proteins. It is said to help normalize blood sugar and to help support type II diabetes. It is also said to help with skin health and finally, helps to improve digestion. Because of the high amount of calcium, it contains it helps to keep bones strong. It can also help as an antibiotic, antifungal, and anticarcinogenic.
Guava is a delicious fruit that is found in many parts of Central and South America. In Peru, the most common variety is one with green skin with a pink center. While traveling in Peru you will likely commonly come across the juice for breakfast because it has four times the vitamin C than orange juice contains.
The Granadilla version of passion fruit has been found to have beneficial digestive effects. It is also a great source of fiber, calcium, several essential vitamins, and contains many beneficial antioxidants.
Dragon fruit is very high in nutrients and antioxidants. Because of this, it found that eating dragon fruit can help to fight heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. The high levels of fiber also help to fight diabetes and colon cancer. It is also a very good source of magnesium and can help to fight low iron levels.
The Aguaymanto, also known as the golden berry, Incan berry, Peruvian cherry, or cape gooseberry, is very closely related to the tomatillo. It has a very low amount of calories and contains nutrients such as thiamin, niacin, and vitamin A & C. It is said to improve your vision due to the vitamin A and has 20 times the vitamin C as an orange. It has a tart, cherry flavor. It goes well in a salad. This fruit was a favorite of the Inca royalty. However, don’t eat it without peeling it as the skin has inedible toxins.
The cacao fruit contains a mood-enhancing compound know as anandamide which helps to increase feelings of happiness and euphoria. This helps to increase serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins which helps you to feel happy and relaxed. This is why eating chocolate makes you feel good.
It is believed that the antioxidants in cacao can lower LDL cholesterol which is the bad kind of cholesterol and increase HDL which is the type of cholesterol that is good for your heart. It also contains polyphenols that help strengthen your arteries and prevent arterial damage. The antioxidants in cacao have also been found to promote healthy skin and hair and to help regulate blood glucose levels.
Finally, cacao is also high in PEA, phenethylamine, which helps to increase the release of endorphins which increase libido and improve sex drives. This is why chocolate is the candy of love.
Camu Camu berry is grown on bushes in the Amazon and contains the highest concentration of vitamin C of any known food source in the world. It has 60 times the vitamin C than an orange. It also is the sourest fruit that grows in Peru. They are reddish-purple berries the size of a cherry.
Camu Camu is commonly used in juice, ice cream, jam, and desserts. Camu Camu powder is also a popular supplement that is sold to help treat viral infections including the common cold, eye conditions including cataracts, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), chronic fatigue syndrome, and many other conditions.
When is the Fruit Season in Peru?
If you’re looking to try the largest variety of exotic fruit straight from Peru, you need to travel there during the correct time of the season. This tends to the lineup with the rainy season of the beginning of September to the end of March. There will be plenty of ripe fruits and fresh fruit juices to try during this time. However, the downside is that you will be traveling during the rainy season. The weather may not be as good. But rain makes a good crop!
Where can you go to Buy Fresh Fruit in Peru?
Because of the variety of fruit all over the county, it is actually quite easy to find fresh Peruvian fruit when you are traveling. You can find them at the markets, at restaurants, and at your hotels. Often the fruit is made fresh into different types of drinks and juices.
One of the best places to buy fresh fruit in Peru is the San Pedro Market in Cusco. The market is approximately an eight-minute walk south from the Plaza de Armas at the center of the city. You’ll find many of the exotic fruit that we discussed at this market including lucuma, granadilla, pepino dulce, and cherimoya.
You will also be able to eat many of the superfoods that make up the Peru fruit options. You can even expand into trying products of vegetable superfood drinks like Chicha Morada which is a traditional Peru drink made from corn.
Where to Find Peruvian Fruits at Home
It’s actually quite easy to find Peru fruit after you return home from your trip. Despite the odd-sounding names they have when you are in Peru, back home you can find them by their non-Quechua names. Bet you didn’t even know they were from Peru. These are some of the easier to find fruits outside of Peru.
These are some of the fruits that you can easily find at your local grocery store or international markets after you return home.
The aguaje is a type of palm tree that grows throughout swamp areas of the South American Amazon region. It is yellow on the inside and red on the outside with a large seed and must be peeled before eating it. Its fruits can be eaten raw or used in jams, ice creams, and other sweets, as well as can be drunk after it has been fermented. It typically has a thick texture with a mild flavor somewhat like a carrot. Outside of Peru, it is typically sold as a powder supplement to help in weight loss.
Capulin is a type of cherry that is also tart which is used in jams and desserts. It contains a slightly tart flavor. The berry color can range from deep reddish to purple. It is mostly grown in the Sacred Valley of Peru. It is commonly used to treat respiratory problems in Peru.
In the US this is known as custard apple. The name chirimoya is translated from Quechua to English as “cold seeds.” This was a favorite of Mark Twain “the most delicious known fruit to man.” The chirimoya contains a smooth and creamy texture with a sweet taste. However, be sure to not eat the seeds, if they are crushed they are poisonous.
It is commonly used in mousse, pie, juice, ice cream, and fish sauce. It is one of Peru’s healthiest fruits as it contains extensive vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants and is said to help immunities, inflammation, and prevent anemia.
There you have it. Food is an important part of the travel experience. Trying many of the different Peruvian fruits should be high on your list when you travel to Peru. Let us know what you are most looking to try in the comments.