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Ugly Fruit You’ll Want to Eat


If you spend any time at all on Pinterest or Instagram, you might be fooled into thinking that all fruit is made for photo shoots, displays beautifully on a plate, and lures you in with its stunning appearance. But, it’s not true, and we’re here to tell you that looks are overrated — at least with these fruits, anyway. Let’s give a shout out to these 5 ugly fruits with big and delicious taste! While they may not win any beauty contests, they’ll win you over with their personalities.

1. Ugli Fruit: We simply had to begin with a fruit that is literally called Ugli. This one earns its name because of its truly frumpy and dumpy appearance. It looks like a pale, pockmarked, misshapen cousin of the orange, but it’s a cross between a mandarin orange and a grapefruit. The mild taste is sweet and juicy — enjoy it just as you would any other citrus fruit. Grow in full sun with well-drained soil and regular watering in Zones 9a-11 (similar growing requirements as other citrus).

2. Passion Fruit: This tropical fruit from the passion vine (Passiflora spp.) looks presentable enough on the outside with its rounded shape and yellow or dark purple skin. But open it up and you’ll see a sickly green seedy center, with some lovely, equally sick-hued yellow lining. If you can get past the frog-eyeball appearance, you’ll love the flavor — sweet and juicy, like guava fruit. Eat it raw, add to salads, juice with it, or make it into jelly. Give passion vine full sun, a trellis for structure, regular water, and well-drained nutritious soil in Zones 9b-11.

3. Jackfruit: This southwest Indian fruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, growing an average of 10-25 pounds each. We saw a jackfruit display in our local health food store a few weeks back, and people were gathered in awe of it. The fruit is huge, oblong, with bumpy green flesh and pale yellow bulbs on the inside. The flavor is a subtle yet delicious mix of pineapple, mango, and banana — but because the flavor is not strong, it’s ideal for a wide variety of sweet and savory dishes because it soaks up other flavorings well. Grow it in full sun, with regular watering in rich, well-drained soil in Zones 9-11.

4. Custard Apple: How about a fruit that has a green reptilian-like scale pattern on the skin, with pale flesh loaded with black seeds? Ripen them on the counter and eat them fresh — simply scoop out the flesh and remove the seeds. It has a creamy custard flavor that Mark Twain called “the most delicious fruit on earth!” Custard apple loves sun, is not terribly picky about soil as long as it’s well-drained, and needs water every 3-5 days during flowering and fruit-setting. When it’s more dormant, water every 2-4 weeks. Zones 9-11.

Custard Apple on a Tree

5. Buddha’s Hand: Also called “fingered citron” and “lemon with fingers,” Buddha’s Hand literally does look like a lemon with fingers. Lots of fingers. Lots and lots of contorted, yellow fingers. Unlike true lemons, however, Buddha’s Hand has almost no interior juice or flesh — it’s mostly used for zesting, candying, baking, and infusing into liqueurs. Grow it as a shrub or small tree in full sun, well-drained soil, and regular water in Zones 10-11.

If you can’t grow these ugly yet scrumptious fruits in your area you may be able to buy them. Be on the lookout at health food grocery stores, specialty grocers known for unusual foods, upscale grocers, and ethnic grocery stores. I’ve even seen some of these at my large, “regular” grocery store on occasion.

Ugly food with big taste pinterest image

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