Our planet is a strange and beautiful thing with some equally unique creations. Some fruits and vegetables are so strange-looking that you need a second glance to confirm they’re even real. Others may taste like they’re from another world entirely. Whether you’re an exotic food lover looking to add some excitement to your diet or simply a curious individual wondering what the world has to offer, some fruits and vegetables will definitely grab your attention.
While it isn’t the rarest fruit, it is one of the strangest. Some regions call it the “king of fruits” because of its large size, powerful odor, and prickly rind. Its smell is so overpowering that many public transport systems ban the fruit. Despite this, Durians are incredibly healthy thanks to their high levels of iron, vitamin C, and potassium. The taste and smell are nearly impossible to describe.
The pomelo is a massive citrus fruit that has a diverse range of flavors. It can take up to eight years for a Pomelo tree to bear fruit, making it less popular outside of Southeast Asia. The fruit itself has an incredibly chunky peel, with the pith sometimes measuring over a half-inch thick. The flesh of the fruit itself is similar to a grapefruit in both taste and consistency. Many people find it difficult to tell the two fruits apart with just flavor, though pomelos are typically much less bitter.
Brazil has cultivated Jabuticaba fruits since the pre-Columbian era. They have remained an incredibly popular fruit for jams, jellies, juices, and wines. The fruits are usually just above an inch in size and resemble a plum or large grape. Different varieties of jabuticaba have varying flavors, though most are pretty close to grapes. However, some people describe the taste of yellow jaboticaba as a mix between a tangerine and a peach. Regardless of which variety you grab, make sure to toss out the seeds as they are extremely bitter.
African horned cucumber, horned melon, jelly melon, or cuke-asaurus are all names for a fascinating fruit that is native to Sub-Saharan Africa. The exterior of the fruit is a medley of orange and red coloring with large spikes protecting the flesh inside. Once you cut into the fruit, you’ll discover an emerald-colored, jelly-like flesh. Taste-wise, many people compare the kiwano to a mix of banana and passionfruit, though others say it’s closer to a mix of banana, cucumber, and lime. Sprinkle some salt or sugar on the flesh to give it an extra kick.
Sometimes, nature is the greatest artist. Romanesco is a type of cauliflower with a natural fractal form. Its twisting, spine-like protrusions make Romanesco one of the most beautiful vegetables on earth, as well as one of the strangest. Like broccoli or cauliflower, you can eat Romanesco raw. However, it also cooks well with methods like stir-frying or roasting in an oven. As the florets cook, they become quite sweet. Try adding Romanesco to dishes like curries to even out the flavor.
No collection of unusual fruits and vegetables is complete without the dragon fruit. This tropical fruit is one of the strangest and most beautiful around, which has allowed its popularity to explode in recent years. Dragon fruit, known as pitaya or pitahaya, have leather-like skins and prominent dragon-esque scales. In terms of taste, it is a sweet fruit that people compare to a combination of kiwi and pear.
This large, scaly fruit is native to the Andes mountain range in South America. Just beyond its unusual skin is soft, white flesh so creamy in texture that many people affectionately refer to the Cherimoya as the “custard apple.” Mark Twain described the cherimoya as “the most delicious food known to men.” Just make sure not to eat the seeds, as they are extremely toxic.
People who cut into a black sapote without knowing anything about the fruit might think that the inside was completely rotten. One of its other names is the chocolate pudding fruit, thanks to its soft, pudding-like interior and uniquely chocolate flavor. Some cultures serve the pulp with a little milk or some orange juice. Others combine it with lemon and lime and use the black sapote as filling in pies.
While several of the world’s strangest fruits feature spikes, none are quite like the rambutan. This fruit looks more like a sea urchin than a plant. The rambutan is native to Southeast Asia but can grow in other hot climates. Rambutan flesh tastes sweet, creamy, and just a little bit sour, similar to a lychee. While the rambutan peel may contain antioxidants, most culinary and health experts advise against eating it.
If your problem with green beans was that they simply weren’t long enough, look no further than the yardlong beans. These vegetables can grow to over two feet in length and have many of the same uses as green beans. The plant is easy to grow in regions with humid and hot summers, whereas other green bean varieties often wilt in the heat. If you plan on growing yardlong beans, get ready for some pollinators, especially wasps and ants.
When reading the name literally, Monstera deliciosa means “monstrous” and “delicious.” What more could a person want from a plant? Also known as the Swiss cheese plant, Monstera deliciosa develop strange fruit that resembles corn with hexagonal scales. As the fruit ripens, their scales slowly fall off, and the air fills with a strong, sweet odor. Most people agree that the fruit smells and tastes like a pineapple and banana combination, though others swear they can detect strawberry, mango, and even guava.
With a name stemming from the German words for cabbage turnip, kohlrabi is a variety of wild cabbage that resembles a root vegetable. While growing, stems jut out from the sides and top of the vegetable. The flesh of the kohlrabi itself has a taste and texture similar to those of a broccoli stem. If the stem is particularly fresh, it can be as crisp and juicy as an apple.
If you’ve ever wanted to eat a vegetable that looks like it came right out of H.R. Giger’s sketchbook, fiddleheads are exactly what you desire. Technically, fiddleheads are the furled fronds of a fern, though chefs use them as vegetables. These plants are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as iron and fiber. Depending on the variety, fiddleheads can resemble asparagus, spinach, artichokes, or mushrooms in taste.
Not every fruit and vegetable grows on land. Some of the most interesting exist only within the depths of our oceans. Dulse is a type of red alga that grows along the northern coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. For 1400 years, it has served as both food and medicine, thanks to its innate ability to prevent goiter. It also contains all of the trace elements that humans need. You can eat it directly off the rocks or grind it into flakes or a powder. Some people bake them to create chips, while others use them in soups, chowders, salads, or even bread. Dulse has a salty flavor, though people often compare it to bacon.
Tiger nuts are small, peanut-like vegetables. While you might assume tiger nuts are a type of nut because of their name or appearance, they’re actually tiny tubers and are more like tiny potatoes. A tiger nut has a unique texture, similar to a fig on the outside but chewier on the inside. They taste earthy and have a natural sweetness, which many compare to pecans. Tiger nuts are a flexible vegetable and are great raw or as an add-in for salads, oatmeals, or granola.