Top 5 Exotic African Fruits You Probably Don’t Know

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Africa is a beautiful, rich and exotic continent that as a lot to offer the world. Yet, in many ways, it is still a mysterious place with many secrets. Here at Afro Cookbook, we like to think we know quite a bit about African food, but even we learn something new once in a while. To our surprise, there are quite a number of African fruits that we didn’t know even existed.

Being the keen learners that we are, we took it up ourselves to do some research and have put together a list of the top 5 exotic African fruits that most people probably don’t know about. Check it out and let us know if you have tried any of them.

5. Safou (Dacryodes Edulis)

Safou African fruit

The safou is a beautiful evergreen tree with a short trunk, glossy leaves and yellow flowers native to the tropical forests of Africa. The fruit it bears — sometimes called “butter fruit” — is interesting not only in its unique appearance (especially when sliced open), but also in its many uses. Very rich in fatty acids (makes up a whopping 48 percent of its composition), vitamins, triglycerides and amino acids, its contents has a buttery texture and can be eaten raw, boiled or roasted. It can also be used to produce oil and, as a result of its high nutritional value, make medicine.

4. Ackee (Blighia sapida)

Ackee African Fruit

Grown on an evergreen tree with green leaves and fragrant blooms, ackee is a bright and colorful fruit that — eerily enough — looks similar to the human brain when sliced open. Its interior contains 3-4 large shiny black seeds and cream colored flesh surrounded by a red lining that can be aesthetically confused for brain matter. When cooked, it produces a very creamy texture and a bitter taste.

Although very exotic and compelling, ackee has a dark side: its black seeds and red areas are toxic. And as an interesting fact, although native to West Africa but later introduced to the Caribbean, its use in food is especially prominent in Jamaican cuisine. In fact, Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica.

3. Marula (Sclerocarya Birrea)

Marula African Fruit

Just about everyone has seen a picture of Africa with an amazing tree usually set to a lovely sunset backdrop. Chances are the photogenic tree you were looking at was a sclerocarya birrea, AKA ‘marula’ for the non-science geeks.

The Marula fruit can be recognized by its yellow exterior and white flesh that has a pleasant and distinctive flavor. It is highly nutritious, with about 8 times the vitamin C found in an orange, and ferments quickly when harvested. In the wild, animals like elephants and baboons consume it for a slightly alcoholic treat. Those drunks…

Very valuable in some regions of Africa, the flesh of Marula fruit is eaten raw, while its seed kernels are used to make oil or fermented to create a South African cream liqueur called Amarula.

2. Miracle Fruit (Synsepalum Dulcificum)

Miracle Fruit Africa

Don’t take its name for a joke; there is indeed something miraculous about Miracle Fruit. When this exotic bright red berry is eaten, it causes sour foods to taste sweet, an effect that can last for up to an hour.

Although there is nothing overly sweet about the miraculous berries themselves, the glycoprotein it contains attach to the taste buds and make foods taste sweeter. Its pulp is used to sweeten palm wine, while there are ongoing attempts to create a commercial sweetener from the fruit. Miracle Fruit might just be what diabetics and dieters have always been praying for.

1. Horned Melon (Cucumis Metuliferus)

Horned Melon African Fruit

Also known as African cucumber or jelly melon, the aptly-named horned melon is a native African fruit with a thick yellow skin covered in distinctive horn-like spines. Its bright green, jelly-like fresh is edible and supposedly tastes similar to a banana. The skin is also edible and contains high amounts of fiber and vitamin C. Just make sure to clip those horns…

In Africa, the horned melon is usually used as a source of food and sometimes a source of water. It has proved relatively popular and is now grown in California, Chile, New Zealand and a few other locations around the world.

Now that you gone through the list of top 5 exotic African fruits most people don’t know exist, do let us know if you have tried any of them. How did you find their taste?