20 of the most unusual fruits and vegetables from around the world — see if you can identify them

Rambutan. Shutterstock
  • All over the world, there are interesting fruits and vegetables that you might not know about.
  • Rambutan, Buddha’s hand, and durian are fruits that originated in Asia.
  • In Central and South America, pitaya, cucamelon, and cassava are popular.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When you’re walking through the produce aisle at your grocery store, you usually grab the potatoes, apples, avocados, and bananas. While these are great, there are a ton of other, not-so-well-known fruits and vegetables on the market that are just as delicious.

Some of most interesting produce has originated in South America or Asia, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands on them in the US.

Here are the most peculiar and delicious fruits and vegetables. How many can you name?

This fruit has a scaly exterior but a creamy interior. Do you know what it’s called?

Cherimoya. Shutterstock

It’s called a cherimoya and is grown in tropical areas. Because the cherimoya is creamy on the inside, it’s dubbed the custard apple. Eaten with a spoon, the fruit is sweet and similar to bananas and pineapples. The fruit is packed with vitamins and fibre and is believed to help fight inflammation.

This spiky fruit is known for its horrendous odor. Do you know it?

Durian. Shutterstock

Durian is known as a controversial fruit. Grown mainly in Southeast Asia, the durian is known for its strong odor that some people find off-putting. It smells so bad that the fruit is even banned in some public places. Once you get past the odor, the inside of the fruit is custard-like and is said to taste like almonds.

What name do you think was given to this colourful fruit?

Pitaya. Shutterstock

This is called a pitaya, but some refer it to as dragon fruit. Tourists flock to Mexico and Central America for a taste and a picture of this beautiful, colourful piece of fruit. The pitaya comes in many colours including, pink, red, and orange. The colour does, in fact, change the taste of each pitaya, but the texture of each fruit is similar to a watermelon or kiwi, while the black seeds add an interesting texture and crunch.

The creamy, brown inside of this tropical fruit is said to taste like chocolate pudding. Can you name that fruit?

Black Sapote. Shutterstock

This fruit is called a black sapote and is native to Central America and Mexico. The black sapote acts as the perfect dessert because it tastes just like sweet chocolate pudding. The healthy fruit, which contains vitamin C and calcium, is also a great and healthy alternative in recipes that call for chocolate.

Do you know the name of this fruit that looks like it’s covered in warts?

Karela. Shutterstock

This is a karela, which is more commonly known as a bitter gourd or melon. They are grown mainly in India and China but used sparingly in foods because of their bitter taste. The spiky fruit, however, has gained popularity in juices because of its health benefits. It’s said to lower blood pressure and strengthen your skin.

Each of these berries is surrounded by thin coverings for protection. Do you think you can name them?

Poha berry. Shutterstock

This mysterious fruit is known as the poha berry, physalis, or goldenberry, and is native to South America, Chile, and Peru. The orange berries are surrounded by a skin-like casing that is paper-thin and called a calyx. These berries are said to be a cross between pineapples and strawberries because of their tangy and sweet taste.

What would you call this fruit that is covered in soft spikes?

Rambutan. Shutterstock

It’s known as rambutan and is native to Southeast Asia. It’s named for the hair-like structures on the outside layer, and it’s sometimes compared to a sea urchin. Although the fruit may look inedible, people all over the world enjoy its sweet and creamy taste.

This squid-looking fruit is perfect for zesting. Can you name it?

Buddha’s Hand. Shutterstock

This is known as a Buddha’s Hand and originated in India but eventually became popular in China. Although it’s grown and served year-round, it’s especially in high-demand around the Chinese New Year because the fruit is said to symbolise happiness and wealth. The fruit does not have pulp or seeds, so it’s best to zest it down for flavour.

Do you know what this translucent fruit is named?

Langsat. Shutterstock

This is a langsat, which is grown and popular in Southeast Asia. Once you peel away the tough outer layer, you will find a delicious, translucent fruit that tastes like a grape and a grapefruit.

This fruit looks like an elongated dragon egg or a green banana, but what is it called?

Monstera deliciosa. Shutterstock

In Central America, this is called the monstera deliciosa. They are known for being green and large. People who love this fruit say it is sweet and is a cross between a banana and a pineapple.

This fruit does not taste good, but it’s used as medicine in some cultures. What do they call it?

Noni. Shutterstock

It’s called noni, and it originated in Southeast Asia and Australasia. The fruit has a terrible odor and even worse taste, so most people do not eat it, but some cultures do use it medicinally. The fruit has anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties that help boost the immune system and help people feel better, faster.

These look like miniature watermelons, but do you know their actual name?

Cucamelon. Shutterstock

This fruit looks like watermelons, is the size of a grape, and tastes like a cucumber. It’s known as a cucamelon and is native to Central America and Mexico. You can pop the entire fruit in your mouth – including the skin – and enjoy a tart and sour snack. Southern Living says you can use the cucamelon as a tasty replacement to a cucumber.

Could you name this fruit that was once illegal in the US?

Mangosteen. Shutterstock

This is the mangosteen, a fruit that is very popular and important in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand. The US banned this fruit in this country because experts feared it would bring the Asian fruit fly into the country. That ban was lifted in 2007, so now you can enjoy the mangosteen’s famous sweet and sour taste.

This flaky vegetable grows underwater. Do you know what it is?

Dulse. Shutterstock

This underwater vegetable is called dulse and is found in the Northwest Pacific Ocean and the North Atlantic Ocean. It is a type of seaweed that grows red, purple, and brown. Once harvested, dulse is dried in the sun and then turned into flakes and powder. You can use dulse in a variety of recipes, especially in baking.

Do you know what these swirly vegetables are?

Fiddleheads. Shutterstock

Meet the fiddlehead, a vegetable grown mainly in North America. Only available in the spring, the fiddlehead is a popular treat for a short time. Those who love the veggie say it tastes grassy with a hint of nutty flavour.

These strange-looking vegetables are found in Indian recipes. Can you guess the name?

Kohlrabi. Shutterstock

This veggie is known as kohlrabi and grows as green or purple bulbs. Although the outside is thick and hard, the inside is crunchy and just a bit spicy. Some say it tastes like a cross between a radish and a turnip.

What do people in India call this popular vegetable?

Dudhi. Shutterstock

They call it dudhi, but some call it a bottle gourd because it is shaped just like a bottle. The vegetable is used in a lot of Indian dishes because it is said to have some great health benefits, including helping digestion, increasing weight loss, and reducing heart disease.

Bon Appétit calls this a “seriously cool vegetable,” but what is its actual name?

Romanesco. Shutterstock

This is called a romanesco, and it’s known for its Christmas-tree like surface. Some even call it the world’s “prettiest vegetable.” While they are most popular in Italy, you can also find them in the US as well. Most notably, a romanesco tastes most similar to broccoli and should be cooked the same way.

These veggies are similar to potatoes, but what are they called?

Sunchokes. Shutterstock

Although these veggies are called sunchokes, you shouldn’t make the mistake and think they are like artichokes. In fact, they are most similar to a potato. Sunchokes are a ground root and taste like nuts. They’re also easy and fast to cook, just like a potato.

You can eat this vegetable, but only in small amounts because it contains cyanide. What is it called?

Cassava. Shutterstock

This is called cassava, and is popular in South America, especially in developing countries because it is drought-resistant and contains a lot of nutrients and starch. But one must be careful when eating this vegetable because it does contain small traces of cyanogenic glycosides, which can release cyanide into your body when eaten in large amounts. But don’t let that stop you from giving this nut-flavored veggie a try.