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Dominican Republic Fruit

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While you are over here in this wonderful land of paradise, you should let your taste buds go wild and have a Caribbean adventure all of their own. There are so many delicious and also strange looking fruits that are readily available to try so why not go for it….? Get totally tropical in the tropics and have a fantastic fruit frolicking frenzy !

English Spelling First then Dominican Spanish Second

avacados are delicious in the Dominican RepublicAvacado or Aguacate

Starter for ten points “Is avocado a vegetable or fruit…?” It’s a fruit you fruit bats! You’d think it was a vegetable though with its delicious cool nutty flavour and so often it’s used to enhance a salad… One of the most versatile fruits in the Dominican Republic not only for eating as the ladies know it’s used cosmetically in both skin and hair product. The avocado comes from a hardy jungle tree that bears fruit twice a year. The best way to tell if your avocado is ready to eat is by shaking it so you can hear the large seed inside rattling and the skin should have a slight softness to it. In the DR the avacado’s can be enormous so if you can only manage to eat half of it, store the other half in the fridge but with the seed still in place as it will keep a lot longer that way. Don’t forget though…..nice as it may be the old avocado is not a dieters best friend, ripening up a whopping 260 calories per fruit tough on the dieters but good for the cholesterol people out there.

Man selling Plantains Dominican RepublicBanana or Guineo for eating and Platano for cooking

Look under the DR Kids Special Page and we have a massive Banana Special mentioning all the different varieties... Breadfruit is harvested all year round, but not a massively popular seller in the more commercialized supermarkets.  You will see it grown in the countryside and can recognize the tree by its distinctive large lobed leaves. It was originally brought to the DR by Captain Bligh in 1793 from Tahiti over to Haiti. The fruit itself is a large round green ball and has a rippled (like an orange) peel. You can fry it to make French fries or boil and mash it like potatoes. The breadfruit is super rich in carbohydrates and vitamins A, B and C.  It was used a lot in the old days as a sustainable food by the Pirates!

Cocoa grown in the Dominican RepublicCocoa or Cacao

What would Willy Wonka do without this wonderful fruit or indeed most of the world if we couldn’t have our favourite chockie fix from time to time…? Cortez originally brought this plant from the Aztecs and introduced it to the Caribbean, where coming from the Aztecs only the High Priests and Tribal Chiefs were permitted to indulge themselves in this sweet seductory satisfaction! The tree bears an oval pod about the length of a hand which grows directly off its main branches. When you cut this open you will see five rows of nuts or beans embedded in a white pulp. Twenty pods deliver about two pounds of bitter-tasting beans.  The beans are left to ferment for three to six days which will loosen them from the pulp and oxidize to a brown colour. Next they are roasted for about thirty minutes at temperatures up to 140C, then broken and ground up to produce chocolate or pressed to make cacao butter for delicious pralines.

cashew nut grown in Dominican RepublicCashew Nuts or Cajuil

Cashew nuts come from a tree with pretty pink flowers on whose ends grow these addictive tasting kidney shaped nuts. The nut has to be roasted first before eating as it contains poison in its raw state. Just thinking of chocolate covered cashew.

Chayote, a cheap versatile vegetable in Dominican RepublicChayote or Tayota

You will see this fruit served as a vegetable in a lot of the hotels buffet lines. Before it is peeled and served the chayote is like a hard green pear with short prickles on its outside skin. It is peeled, cut into strips and boiled. It has a light taste and is whitish in colour, and will absorb other flavours easily if cooked with other veg or meats.  The sap is also used in the Dominican Republic as a cough remedy where the fruit it is cut into slices and sugared overnight to release the sap.

Coconuts on tree in Dominican RepublicCoconut or Coco

Ahhhh the tree of the tropics, this is what most people picture in their minds when coming to the Caribbean, a beautiful white beach lined with coconut trees swaying gently in the trade wind breeze. The coconut tree is actually one of the most useful plants on the island, not only as a food source and income maker, but for shade and protection as its long roots will weave their way through the ground to offset erosion along the shorelines, and also the locals use its leaves and bark for rainproof roofing. The coconut is grated on mass for cooking and baking purposes, its sugar is tapped from its leaves and the coconut oil derived from the ripened fruit makes it a hugely important and affordable base food all over the world. Its natural milk is so healthy to drink and creamy white flesh is a life saver for people here on a daily basis. Normally everybody expects to find the hard little husky brown shell that you see in supermarkets back home and not the large green oblong shape that is seen hanging from the coconut trees. People often ask “Where is the coconut then?” The coconut is in fact inside the green shape! This is removed before exporting so all you normally see is the brown shell. The coconut is a year round plant and takes about twelve to fourteen months to ripen fully. A good tree will produce about forty to fifty coconuts per year.

Guava fruit in Dominican Republic yummy made into juice!Guava or Guayabaont

This is a tropical treat and one to try! The guava is grown on low-lying trees usually found around river beds and is similar in shape to a lemon; inside it has a pale pink pulp and light seeds.  It has an intense tropical scent and is used a lot in the Dominican Republic by food processing companies to enhance flavours and aromas. It is also made into jams, drinks and ice creams.  The fruit is a great source of vitamin C, calcium and iron. Guinep or Limoncilla. This is a favourite fruit for many kids here in the Dominican Republic, if you venture out of your resorts you will often see them carrying little bunches of green fruit the size of a marbles and munching on them as they walk along.  You actually bite right through the shell but get ready as the flavour bursts your buds, it tastes tangy but sweet like a lychee mixed up with lemon!

Hearts of Palm Dominican RepublicHeart of Palm or Palmitos

The heart of palm is considered a delicacy and can be eaten fresh as a starter or entrée; sometimes it is used in salads and has a nutty mushroom type flavour. The heart of palm neither falls into a fruit or vegetable category. To find the heart of the palm tree it isn’t in the centre of the great trunk beating away, it is right at the top of the royal palm tree, a green extension of the trunk growing straight off rather like a huge shoot. The tragic thing is there are no commercial farms for the heart of palm and once you cut this out it will stop the trees further growth.  It is also illegal to take it from the forests. To protect our environment if you see heart of palm advertised on a menu, please ignore it and choose something else….

Woman Selling Mangos Dominican RepublicMango or Mango!

For over 4,000 years the mango has been cultivated in India and this is where it originates from.  Known as the King of Fruits it is totally tropical, delicious and high in nutritional value but probably one of the messiest fruits to eat in the world! Best way is too peel the mango with a knife and then slice the fruit into segments, carving away from the large seed/stone in the centre of the mango, a heaven sent taste if refrigerated. Mangos are found in abundance in the Dominican Republic and the trees will grow fruit twice a year. They come in cycles after the avocado tree has produced fruit, then we get the mangos, after we have mangos then we have the avocados again and so on.  Mangos are a difficult commodity to export as they don’t travel well and are sensitive to pressurization. Most people will know the mango from an Indian restaurant and their delicious mango chutney, but the juice of the mango is a firm favourite over here so try it when you can.

Papaya Dominican RepublicPapaya or Papaya/Lechosa

The papaya tree thrives in hot humid conditions, grows all year round and produces big green oval fruit shaded by the wide clumps of leaves which protect the fruit from the sun. The papaya often grows around the size of a football.  You will definitely see this in your hotel restaurants sliced in long thin segments.  Its colour ranges like a sunset from pale yellow to a deep orange and is quite a soft pulpy sweet fruit. If you were to buy a papaya whole and cut it in half you would be amazed at the hundreds of tiny black seeds inside, simply scoop them out and slice up your papaya.  Over in the Dominican Republic the papaya is popular as a smoothie or milkshake. As well as being a delicious nutritional fruit papaya has other uses, if you wrap the leaves of the tree around a piece of meat and store it overnight in the fridge it will tenderize the meat.  It is also used in the cosmetic industry as a facial treatment and the locals will use the leaves as an effective antidote to fish poisoning.

passion fruit Dominican RepublicPassion Fruit or Chinola or Maracuja

The name says it all really! A tangy, wonderful tasting fruit that is so distinctive in flavour it can’t really be compared to anything else! The passion fruit grows on a vine that clings on to the sunny side of trees; the three petaled leaves are poisonous. When ripe the fruit is about the size of a tennis ball with a smooth yellow thick skin.  Once cut open the pulp is a yellowish – orange colour and it is full of tiny seeds.  You can simply spoon all of this out to eat including the seeds which have a delightful exotic flavour. It is very popular in the Dominican Republic as a fruit juice and also a wonderful topping for ice cream, very rich in ascorbic acid too.

Pineapple in Domincan RepublicPineapple or Pina

The pineapple is grown in vast plantations that line the high way near Bonao between Santiago and Santo Domingo.  Acres and acres of fruit growing on the ground in its bed of green leaves.  It is an important export commodity of the Dominican Republic these days and many of the sugar cane fields have now been turned over to pineapple plantations.

Sapodilla grown in the Dominican RepublicSapodilla or Zapote

Another fruit which grows in the jungle and produces a large egg sized fruit.  It is brown in colour and has a velvety skin, the inside being brown in colour too and quite pulpy.  Excellent when made into a refreshing drink.  The Sapodilla tree contains latex and is tapped all over South America to produce chewing gum!

 



Sea Grape Dominican RepublicSea Grape or Uva de Playa

Sea Grape comes from a tree which grows by the beaches and coastlines of the Dominican Republic, again like the coconut it is a great protector of our shores. Once the leathery oval leaves turn a yellowish red colour and the berries turn a dark blue the fruit is ripe and ready to eat.  The berries taste quite tart and will be sold in bunches along the beaches by local vendors.

Soursop grown in the Dominican RepublicSour Sop or Guanabana

The sour sop has a different name in every language and comes from the cherimoya family it is a year round fruit.  Outside the fruit is oblong and covered in soft prickles, while the pulp inside is white with quite a mild pleasant taste and contains small shiny black seeds.

Sugar Cane Plantations can be found in the north & south of the Dominican RepublicSugar Cane or Cana

Upon flying into the Dominican Republic from any aspect you will see the endless fields of sugar cane and you know you have arrived on a tropical island. When in flower the cone shaped flower pushes its head above the cane and they gently shimmer and sway like silver ripples in the breeze.  Sugar cane was introduced to the Dominican Republic by Christopher Columbus from the Canary Islands along with the banana. The harvesting of sugar cane is an annual event, with thousands of Haitian laborers cutting down the cane by hand.  The value of the harvest is determined by sugar content and the local mill’s operational capacity.  On the north coast you can still see the working sugar cane mill in Montenano which has been there for over a hundred years.  A yield of 50-70 tons of cane per hectare produces 6 to 8 tons of raw sugar with a 10 to 12 percent sugar content. The process of changing cane into sugar goes like this:- the raw cane is delivered directly to the mill where the cane is then pressed and squashed to release the sap.  This in turn is then crystallized, centrifuged and cleared.  It is the fermented sugar molasses that will be distilled to produce the Dominican rum it is so famous for! Meanwhile out on the street you will see vendors selling raw cane! The kids go mad for this instant sugar fix; they will chew on it, sucking out the sweet sap and then spit out the fibrous barkie bits. If you prefer to be a little more refined (no pun intended) and want to try sugar sap them you will quite easily find a stall where they literally press the cane on the spot to fill up a glass for you.  The juice is known as “guarapo”.


Tamarind can make you sleepy...Dominican Republic...yawn...Tamarind or Tamarindo

A jungle tree originating from Africa that was brought over along with the slaves. The tree produces a large pod which is sour in taste, the pulp is mass sold at supermarkets in block or cake form.  Many of you will have tasted tamarind and not realized so as it is an ingredient used in Worcestershire sauce and also used in a lot of curries.  It is a great savior in cooking as it can rescue over salted dishes.  In the Dominican Republic it is used as a juice to drink, although beware it has properties that will make you sleepy!

So that’s our fruit frenzy totally tropical description of all the wonderful fruits grown in the Dominican Republic.  Now its just up to you to go & try some of them…….

Read 33511 times Last modified on Friday, 03 August 2007 04:56
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