Wild Fruits of Nosara
The only experience many first time visitors to the tropics have with coconuts, are the ones on Whole Foods shelves wrapped in plastic. Little surprise, that when visitors learn about Nosara’s abundance of these natural culinary treasures, they get excited. Coconuts are abundant, fresh, delicious, healthy, and cheap. They can also be found growing everywhere along the coast. The more adventurous traveler may even be inclined to shimmy up the top of a tree to retrieve their own (not recommended).
There are over a thousand varieties of mango grown in the world. Although most originated in India, they’re also grown in Mexico, Central America, and South America, and in a whole range of tropical locations. Depending on the region, and the time of year they are harvested, mangoes come in all sorts of colors, shapes, and sizes. The mangoes in Nosara can be categorized into two types and sizes. First, the small, one hundred percent wild mangoes grow everywhere, and are the type you’ll see local howler monkeys feasting on. Although they taste great, the fiber is often ultra-stringy, meaning most people choose to use them for juicing and smoothies. Then, there’s the larger mangoes. Although mainly found in stores, these too can be found growing wild, just not as commonly as their smaller cousins.
Remember that the fruit from mango trees matures at different times, meaning you can pick what you want to eat and leave the rest on the tree. Keep in mind that just because the fruit looks ready, it may take at least several days to ripen once it is picked. The best indicator of ripeness is softened flesh.
The Costa Rican grapefruit is a hybrid mix of it’s asian, indonesian, and Jamaican ancestors, all of which were introduced in the sixteenth century. This sweet and sour tropical citrus fruit is rich in nutrients, antioxidants and fiber, making it hugely popular among health food aficionados. Proven health benefits include weight loss and reduced risk of heart disease.
Grapefruit can be found growing in trees all over the Nosara area. Remember that they should not be harvested until at least half of the peel has become yellow or pinkish. Patience really is a virtue with these delicious fruits, and the longer they stay on the tree, the sweeter it becomes.
Originally from Mexico and South America, papaya has been introduced around the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Depending on the season, papayas are to be found growing all over Nosara, and these vitamin C rich fruits are truly delicious. Named the Fruit of the Angels by Christopher Columbus, papaya is high in fiber and water content, and also an enzyme that aids digestion. Combined, these promote a healthy digestive tract, and a range of other physiological benefits.
Wild bananas can be found growing all over the Nosara area, and are distinguishable both by their smaller size, and their taste, which many agree to be far more delicious than anything you’d find on a supermarket shelf.
The nance is a small yellow berry with delicate skin, and a white fibrous interior. The tree can be found in dry forests, savannas and coastal areas, where the fruit grows in clusters, which give off a unique, penetrating aroma. They are both sweet and slightly bitter. Nance fruit is considered a rich source of vitamin C and commonly used in drinks and desserts.
In Costa Rica, when someone is lucky, they are called “Guabero”. This moniker comes from the guaba plant which is synonymous with luck. The guaba tree can measure up to 20 meters and is notable for its beautiful flowers, and it’s fruit pods which contain sweet, fibrous, edible material concealed under the woody bark. Its common name is the “ice cream bean.” Guabas are most common in the rainy season. It’s tough outer layers are easily crafted, and often used to create jewelry. This fruit is rich in vitamin C, fiber and other micronutrients.
This can be found throughout Costa Rica. This Costa Rican staple is similar to a lime, is common throughout October through to July, and ultra-rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber and potassium.
This fruit is popular for good reason; because it’s incredibly tasty. Originally from Asia, where it is named the lychee, the mamón chino is easily identified by its red skin covered in soft thorns. When removed, the sweet, transparent flesh of the fruit is uncovered, and eaten from around the large, interior seed. Mamón Chino is a rich source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, vitamin A and other beneficial components for health. Although mamón chino is found in Costa Rica’s southern climes, the trees, which can reach up to 65 feet in height, also grow around the outskirts of Nosara. You have to know where to look to find these guys.
Also known as dragon fruit. This Mesoamerican native tree belongs to the cactus family and grows in dry, drought resistant areas. In Costa Rica, it is found in tropical dry Guanacaste forests. The Pitahaya fruit is oval-shaped with a bright pink surface, and has a rich, soft pulp laced with hundreds of black seeds. It is a popular ingredient in desserts, drinks, salads and ice cream. The Pitahaya is rich in vitamin C, iron, phosphorus, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants.
Manzana de Agua
The manzana de agua, or water apple, is a delicious fruit that grows in and around Nosara, and is easy to find during the summer months.
This is a small fruit (2-3 cm in diameter) which is popular in the summertime. It can be eaten either ripe or unripe. There are two species of jocote. The yellow jocote is harvested during the rainy season, and the red jocote, more commonly available in the dry season.