What to do with tropical fruits

There’s something about tropical fruit that quenches and cools like no other. Seek out these exotic imports in summer, using our guide below to help you.



These are the seeds of the coconut palm, native to South America. You can extract the sweet water by tapping into the three eyes at the bottom (avoid any sunken eyes). The flesh is delicious in desserts.

For your little ones, try introducing coconut milk into their meals with this beetroot, peach & coconut recipe. Or whip up these exotic coconut pancakes with pomegranate jewels using dessicated coconut. For an aromatic twist to your everyday meals, boil plain rice with coconut cream served with an Asian-style seafood parcel.


It might look like an artichoke, but this Andean fruit tastes like custard. Its whitish flesh can be scraped out and used in fruit salads and smoothies. Great with lime and vanilla.

The custard fruit works well in this mango lassi. Simply add two custard fruits instead of the mango to give it a new flavour twist.

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The red, spiked skin of this Asian fruit is merely decorative, but you can eat both the mildly sweet black seeds and white (or pink) flesh – both are delicious with lime.

Dragon fruit is easy to prepare. All you have to do is use a sharp knife and remove the skin, slicing it into chunks. Add juicy pieces to this beautiful tropical fruit salad for extra sunshine.


Popular in Asia and the Caribbean, this has slightly granular, fragrant, sweet pink flesh. Simply peel and deseed, then use in desserts, with lime, cream, custard and cream cheese. Alternatively, make this whacky ketchup using guava and banana.


You often buy just a small, yellow bulb from this vast green fruit. Cooked unripe, it can replace meat. When ripe, use raw in salads for a tart banana flavour. Oil your knife first, as the fruit is sticky. Try substituting fennel for raw jackfruit in this sliced fennel, orange & almond salad, to give things a splash of colour.   


Thin-skinned mangos (such as Alphonso) are best raw; while thick-skinned ones work in salsas.

Kick-start your day with a glass of this delicious mango cooler. For a show-stopping meal that’s quick to rustle up, this green tea roasted salmon paired with juicy mangos goes down a real treat. Or if you find yourself left with overripe ones, make them last longer by turning them into a tasty mango chutney.


This South American fruit’s inedible purple shell encloses sweet, fragrant flesh and seeds that go well with lime and chilli. Passion fruit is commonly used in drinks and is gorgeous in this velvety almond, banana & passion fruit smoothie or passion fruit caipirinha. For something a little more adventurous, try mixing the pulp and juice into a salad dressing like in this sweetheart slaw with passion fruit dressing.


This Asian citrus fruit tastes and looks like a large grapefruit. Its thick rind can be candied, while the flesh is perfect with shellfish, chocolate or salt.

This is a great salad to use tangy pomelo – all you have to do is slice the pith and peel from the pomelo, cut in half horizontally and slice into chunks.


Peel these hairy Malaysian red/yellow fruits to reveal aromatic flesh. Rambutan is more tart than its cousin, lychee, but can be substituted for it. We suggest making this fantastic martini cocktail by peeling and use four fresh rambutan, instead of tinned lychee.


Cut widthways, this yellow Thai fruit looks like a star; it has a hint of green when ripe, and a sweet-sour taste. Try replacing apples with two star fruits, finely sliced in this tasty Southern pecan & apple salad.


Once you cut off the rough skin, the sweet, juicy flesh is delicious raw or cooked. It goes well with rum, citrus fruits and chilli. Our favourites include a classic grilled pineapple with crème fraîche & mint, a crowd-pleasing starter of squid with tamarind recado & pineapple salsa and a light pineapple & coconut cake for the perfect afternoon treat.


The watermelon varies in size has a smooth hard rind, usually green with dark green stripes, and a juicy, sweet interior flesh, deep red to pink, with many black seeds.

Wedges or chunks of watermelon go wonderfully well in fresh summer salads. Team up with salty feta or try this delicious Asian-style watermelon salad with a zingy sesame dressing. It’s also delicious with prawns, peanuts and cashews in this prawn & watermelon salad.


The ripe fruit of the papaya is usually eaten raw, without skin or seeds. You’ll know it’s ripe when it feels soft, similar to a ripe avocado, and its skin has a yellow to orange glow. The unripe papaya is green and hard, the flesh is a light green colour and can be eaten cooked or raw in curries or salads.

For more great summer recipes take a look at our gallery

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