Mangostino, Anyone?

Strange and Delicious Fruits of June

Regardless of location, farmers’ markets throughout Guatemala provide a grand opportunity to experience new flavors, textures and colors in fruits foreign to the extranjero tongue. If you’re worried about consuming raw fruits here in Guatemala, remember that a couple minutes soaked in low strength bleach water will kill anything looming on the skin of these beautiful fruits. Here are a few coming and going in your local market through the month of June.

First off we have the ciruela, or small plum, that is beginning to flood the markets. At first glance this fruit highly resembles a large cherry, such as the Bing variety, but don’t be fooled. Vendors continue to sell the large, dark plums (also called ciruelas) that we’re accustomed to, but the majority of these are exported, whereas the smalls plums are native (criollas). I suggest you bring along a cleaning cloth to taste test your plums before purchasing them. The darker the skin doesn’t necessarily mean riper the plum, it may just be a different variety.

Next we have the guanaba, a large, prickly, green sweet fruit that tastes like a mix between pear, kiwi and granadinas (those large, passion fruit-like fruits that contain seeds resembling fish eggs). When the fruit is mature, it is soft to the touch. Cut it open, remove the slimy center (it’s edible but extremely bitter) and enjoy the sweet, smooth flavor.

Next, the mangostino is a small eggplant-like fruit that is cut open and the white part is consumed. When taken out whole, the edible part of the fruit looks exactly like a head of garlic. The fruit is extremely sweet, seedless and easy to eat. The mangostino is more abundant in the Highlands (due to the cooler growing temperature) and is a large export fruit to Colombia. Nevertheless, it is a tasty hidden treasure available in the markets.

In the end, we come to the paterna, which, depending on the rainy season, may or may not be around by mid-June. This fruit comes in its thick pod shell, usually green in color. When cracked open (the shell is soft) one is greeted with small, white fuzzy covered seeds (if it’s brown, it’s past due). The trick is to pop a seed in your mouth, lightly bite it, and peel off the sweet fuzzy outer coating to eat. Do not eat the seed! Spit it out and eat the outer covering, which offers a light sweetness, such as a clover flower.

Enjoy the seasonal tastes available at Guatemala’s farmers’ markets!

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