The 10 best native fruit to try in the Philippines
This list will be a travelers guide for which native fruit you MUST try while traveling in the Philippines. Of course, like all food the fruit on this list will be subjective in which are the "best" to different people. But this is my list and the criteria I will be using is my taste buds and that it has to be a native fruit to the Philippines. In my definition of native, I mean actually grown here. When eating fruit I also appreciate being able to get to the flesh without too much difficulty, so I will also be rating the fruit based on its level of difficulty to eat. Before arriving to visit the Philippines, little did I know of how much native fruit variety The Pearl of the Orient Seas actually had. When you think of tropical countries, naturally you think of bananas, mangos, coconuts, ect. Some of those fruit may make my top 10 list, but you will have to keep reading to find out. On to the list now!
The native mango is often referred to as the champange mango in the America's. Its flavor is bursting with sweetness and juiciness. Cutting into the mango is as easy as slicing bread, literally. Two straight slices, with one above, and one below the seed. This will leave you two end slices, along with the center cut. Both of the end pieces can be used with a spoon to scrape out all the sweet flesh of this fruit. The center piece is a little more work, but only involves peeling off the strip of skin and "sucking" the edible flesh from the center seed.
When I first tried the lanzones I was amazed how sweet and flavorful they were. It actually reminded me of the taste of a Starburst candy. Like the mango, the lanzones is quite simple to peel and eat. It tends to resemble an orange in how you will find almost pre-sliced fruit once you peel off the skin. Most of the slices inside are totally edible, but typically one or two will have a seed that you must avoid swallowing. Its flavor is equal to the mango, but it falls behind the mango in ease of consuming.
The mangosteen might be a little more familiar in the US with its supposed cure-all properties that is heavily advertised. Now I am not going to comment on the alleged health benefits of the fruit, but what I will say is that a ripe mangosteen will cure your tastebuds with its somewhat strong, but sweet flavor. It does take a little more work to get inside of the mangosteen, and if using bare hands, will cause a purple mess. But once you get inside the thick skin, the flesh inside is easy to eat.
The watermelon in the Philippines isn't much different than the one you would find in the US. But that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve to make this list. There is a reason why this fruit is so popular, and as long as eaten when ripe, it doesn't disappoint. The most difficult part isn't getting past its thick, almost bullet proof like outer layer. Once inside, you have lots of options in how you want to indulge. The seeded watermelons do tend to be a bit more annoying with having to sift through the seeds.
This fruit is probably a bit more rare than the rest. At first sight, I had little desire to try it. Its appreance is lackluster and seems almost boring. Just a green fruit with a lot of sharp tips on its skin to avoid. But after reluctantly trying the guyabano I was pleasantly surprised just how sweet and juicy the fruit was. Under the skin, the flesh is almost the same color as a coconut. The black seeds are easy to sift through, and the texture is similiar to a pineapple. The most difficult, and perhaps dangerous step is to cut through the outer layer.
Before trying, the chico reminded me of a kawi. Mostly because of the look and texture. But when it comes to taste, there are drastically different. The texture of the chico almost compares a bit to sandpaper. But no worries, that is the only thing in common with sandpaper this fruit has. The skin is thin and tends to bruise easily. It is best cut in slices and served cold. The seeds are easy to remove.
Unlike some of the fruit on this list, the coconut is well known across the world. One of the biggest strengths of the coconut is how the fruit will retain water in the center and can be used as a glass to drink. Just put a hole on the top and stick a straw and you have one delicious drink. After you are done hydrating yourself, you can now scrape out the sweet white fruit insde of the hard shell. The most difficult part of the process is of course getting through the outer core, especially if you don't have the correct tools.
As with the watermelon and coconut, the pinapple is a high demand fruit around the world. Its juice is commonly sold across the US, and pineapple chunks or pieces can be found year round in the super market's canned fruit isle. But of course that doesn't compare to the taste of a fresh native pineapple. The outer skin is quite difficult to get through, and tends to be a little dangerous if in a hurry. The leaves on top of the pineapple can also pose a rick of a cut.
In the Philippines grow many different varieties of bananas. There are bananas that are not sweet and are used for cooking purposes. But of course there are the bananas that when ripe, offer a delicious flavor. The skin is easy to peal and inside the fruit is easy to eat.
The atis is often referred to as a "sugar apple". The flesh of the fruit is soft and sweet. The black seeds are easy to remove and don't cause many issues eating the flesh. The outer skin tends to be oily, but is not very difficult to cut through.
So there is my top 10 list of fruits to try while in the Philippines. While I have tried many fruit in the Philippines, I have not tried them all. Perhaps one day I will complete the journey and try every native fruit there, and then will create or update this list. Remember, it's more fun in the Philippines, especially when eating fruits!