A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil

fruit in Brazil

One of the things in Brazil that I look forward to the most is the fruit. Not only is the variety of fruit delicious, but it also takes a central role in the daily cuisine, being served at breakfast, for snacks, and as dessert right after lunch and dinner.

A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil | This Is My Happiness.com

Brazil is a tropical country with many different types of land and climates, resulting in a range of fruit grown, from common fruits that are always around, like mangoes, papayas, and bananas, to less common ones that you can find during certain seasons or places, like jabuticaba and atemoia. That’s not including the approximately 3000 (!) types of tropical fruit that grow in the Amazon. And if you’ve been to a juice shop in Brazil, you know that it gets even more complicated!

A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil | This Is My Happiness.com

Here’s an overview of the fruit in Brazil that you can easily find while visiting this beautiful country. Portuguese names are given in italics. The following books might also be of interest: (click the image for a link to the book)


A couple of tips to start: When fruit is not ready, it’s called verde, meaning “green.” When you buy it at a grocery store, you’ll usually need to have it weighed in the produce section before going to the cashier. When you buy fruit at a market, bacia means per bowl or basket, and por kilo means by the kilo.

A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil | This Is My Happiness.com

Avocado, mexerica (mandarin oranges), papaya, mango, (center) champagne orange and lime

Mangoes/manga: There are many types, but the ones my family buys most often are manga rosa, manga espada (shown above), and manga ades. Look for the small ones called manga coquinho. Brazilians normally peel the mango, cut the fruit off the pit, and then suck the fruit that remains on the pit.

Avocado/abacate: Avocados are huge and cheap! About $1.50 will buy you an avocado about 5 times the size of those in the U.S. They’re always eaten as something sweet, mashed with honey or sugar or made in a smoothie with milk and sugar (never on a sandwich, in a salad, or as something similar to guacamole).

Papaya/mamão: Brazilians think that papayas are good for the stomach and should be eaten at even the slightest sign of constipation, so they’re usually served at breakfast. Cut the papaya in half, scoop out the seeds, and then eat with a spoon or cut into wedges.

Citrus: You  might not associate Brazil with citrus fruits, but when I visit in July (Brazil’s winter), there are more citrus fruits in the house than any other type of fruit. Limão is a lime that looks like a round lemon. Mexerica (meh-sheh-ree-ka) is the Brazilian version of a mandarin orange–they’re larger and soft. A variety of oranges can be found, such as the champagne orange shown above. Oranges are usually peeled and then cut in half so that you can suck out the juice and pulp.

 

A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil | This Is My Happiness.com

Bananas: Brazil is one of the world’s leading banana-producing countries, and there are many types of bananas to choose from. Banana prata (silver bananas) are a common variety, smaller than the bananas sold in the U.S. A much smaller variety is the banana-macã (apple bananas), which are a favorite of Brazilians. They need to be slightly brown and soft, as shown below.

A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil | This Is My Happiness.com

Guavas, two types of bananas, atemoia, sweet passionfruit, tamarind, starfruit

Guavas (goiaba): Guavas are one of the cheapest and most common fruits in Brazil. Two kinds of guavas are normally sold: white and pink (the colors refer to the colors inside), or goiaba branca and goiaba vermelha. I prefer the latter. You can remove the peel and cut it into pieces or cut it in half and scoop the fruit out with a spoon. The small seeds inside the fruit are normally eaten.

A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil | This Is My Happiness.com

Guava vermelha at the market

Atemoia: One of my favorite fruits in Brazil, atemoia is a cross between two other tropical fruits, the sugar apple and cherimoya. They are large green fruits with a soft, white inside and should be eaten when they are soft to the touch outside. You can just break it into large pieces and bite the white fruit off the peel. There are large black seeds that you’ll have to spit out.

A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil | This Is My Happiness.com

Inside of an atemoia

 

A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil | This Is My Happiness.com

Small, round passionfruit for sale at the market

Passionfruit/maracujá: Common types of passionfruit are the sweet (doce) and sour (azedo) varieties, and the sweet ones are the ones you want to buy. Other varieties grow in Brazil, and smaller, round ones (shown above) can be found in markets and gardens. Cut the fruit in half, get a spoon, and scoop out the juice and seeds and eat them.

A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil | This Is My Happiness.com

Inside sweet passionfruit, or maracujá doce.

 

A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil | This Is My Happiness.com

Jabuticaba: This is my husband’s favorite Brazilian fruit. The small round fruit grows on trees in the southern states of Minas Gerais and São Paulo. It’s not as cheap as other fruit and has a very short shelf life so is always eaten fresh. After washing, put the fruit between your front teeth, suck the clear inside out of the peel, and discard the peel and seed. The flavor is similar to a tart grape, but better.

A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil | This Is My Happiness.com

Jabuticaba tree

 

Jackfruit/jaca (“zhah-kah”): Jackfruit is from Asia and was introduced in Brazil. Even though the tree is considered an invasive species, it is one of the country’s most popular fruits. But I have found that Brazilians are split on this fruit–most like it, but some definitely don’t, and I have to admit that it’s not my favorite either. The fruit is pulpy and while the tart yet sweet flavor is good, the texture can be off-putting. They are large, and once the fruit is opened, it spoils quickly, so a whole jackfruit is not a good idea for one or two people. In rural areas, you can see jackfruit hanging from trees–they’re so large that it’s quite a sight!

A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil | This Is My Happiness.com

 

Cashew apple/Cajú: Cajú is a beautiful fruit originally from the northeast of Brazil. It has an unusual flavor that is popular as a juice. The top of the fruit has the cashew nut inside. The fruit itself has much more vitamin C than an orange but can be astringent. Usually people put the whole fruit in their mouth, holding onto the end, and suck the juice out; once the fruit becomes soft, it can be eaten if it’s not too astringent. The sweetest cashew fruit is found in the Northeast of Brazil in the summer.

A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil | This Is My Happiness.com

Caju fruit. Photo credit: Luigi Zarrillo on Flickr.

 

A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil | This Is My Happiness.com

Açaí. Photo credit: Breno Peck on Flickr.

Açaí: This world-famous superfood is just one of the fruits that grow only in the Amazon and are sold as frozen pulp in the rest of Brazil. Açaí shops where you can order a bowl of the frozen treat are common. It’s also a typical snack on the beach, as shown below.

A Guide to the Fruit in Brazil | This Is My Happiness.com

Açaí sold on the beach with banana and granola

 

And you? Which of these fruits have you tried or would like to try? Do you have a favorite tropical fruit?

P.S. More about food and travel in Brazil:

A Guide to Cheap Eats in Brazil 

Home in Brazil in Photos

30 Things to Do in Sao Paulo

Loving the Land of Samba: My Favorite Things about Brazil

A Month in Brazil

38 Comments

  • Carol says:

    That Jabuticaba tree is so strange, with the fruit growing on the trunk. I just bought apple bananas this week (in Toronto!) and I ate one but it was too tannic, now I know to wait till it’s browner. Thanks!

    • Jenna says:

      Isn’t it strange?! And yes, most of the types of bananas here need to be eaten when they are completely yellow (no hint of green) and are a bit soft, maybe even with some brown spots. The apple bananas have a strange texture when they’re not ready.

  • Brianna says:

    One of my favorite things while traveling is discovering different produce. I was under the assumption that cashew fruit was poisonous, looks like that’s not the case.
    Brianna recently posted..The two sides of Kenai Fjords National ParkMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      I love trying new produce, too, and a country like Brazil is the perfect place to do so.

    • Darnedifino says:

      The poisonous part of the cashew-prussic acid, I believe– is in the shell of the nut. Technically, the soft “fruit” is the engorged stem and the “nut”is the fruit.

  • Renuka says:

    Well, this post is a delight for a fruit lover! Very insightful. I learnt a lot today. I didn’t know custard-apple is called atemoia. Thank you. 🙂
    Renuka recently posted..Enjoy ‘Doing Nothing’ When You Are At…My Profile

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks, Renuka. I actually think the atemoia is not exactly the same as the custard apple because it’s a hybrid of 2 fruits, but it looks very similar!

    • Isadora says:

      Custard apple is called fruta do conde or pinha! Atemoia is another fruit. 😀

  • Cassie says:

    I think you know how obsessed I am with tropical fruits, so I LOVE this list! The photos of the the jabuticaba tree and the cashew apple are so fascinating! I’ve never seen other fruits that grow this way!
    Cassie recently posted..A Summer Camping ChecklistMy Profile

  • So many strange fruits… at least for a European like me… Interesting guide. Thanks. It was a pleasure to read it.
    Laura @Travelocafe recently posted..Teppanyaki Restaurant Sazanka, Amsterdam. A Different Kind of Dinner with ShowMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      Interesting for me, too, as an American 🙂 I have a lot of fun trying them and learning about them!

  • Tricia says:

    Jenna, what an intriguing blend of fruit! It somehow brings to mind vintage imagery of Carmen Miranda, a character I dressed up as at a Halloween party years ago. 🙂

    Shawn and I have yet to make it to South America (and we want to remedy that) but Brazil’s fruit looks fantastic – especially the Jabuticaba. It all reminds me of our time in Southeast Asia when we discovered durian, jackfruit, snake fruit and dragon fruit for the first time. Wish you continued safe & fun adventures there!
    Tricia recently posted..Basking in Bilbao’s Renaissance: A Walking Tour of the Basque CityMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      I enjoyed discovering the fruits in Indonesia, too. I am fortunate here in Brazil that my husband’s family makes sure I try all kinds of local fruits and shows me which ones to buy, how to eat them, etc.! 🙂

  • Adam Pervez says:

    Love this post and tropical fruit! I hadn’t heard of Jabuticaba before, but the rest I’ve heard of or tried. Keep exploring and sharing! 🙂
    Adam Pervez recently posted..The African Fund For Endangered Wildlife Giraffe Center!My Profile

  • gata says:

    Jabuticaba, it is my favorite ever!!!

  • lucas says:

    Amazing guide, I’d only add one of my favorite from Northeast: “Siriguela”, so sweet and delicious you have to fight the birds for it. “Acerola” has lots of vitamin C. Others usually consumed as juice are “Graviola”, “Cupuaçu” and Cocoa.

    • Jenna says:

      Yes, thanks for adding those! I’ve had them all those juices except cocoa. My first stop in Brazil is usually at Valadares in Sao Paulo for a juice of orange juice with acerola. I love the vitamin C boost after flying.

  • Renjith says:

    hav u heard about poppulu banana, if anybody knows about the same kindly give me the details

  • Felype says:

    We have to types of JACA(jackfruit), you have tried the soft one. It is not so good as the hard one. It is delicious, like a candy.

    • Jenna says:

      Hi Felype, I’ve eaten jaca in Brazil many times, but I didn’t know about the other kind. Thanks for mentioning it!

  • Vergetti says:

    Magnificent site, congratulations Jenna.

    As a Brazilian hailing from the Northeast region, i’d like to add the following fruits: Mangaba (i don’t know the name in English, maybe it is called mangaba fruit), it is small greenish or yellowish, the juice is insanely delicious, a must try!
    Have ever heard of caja’ fruit ? it reminds seriguela, small yellow berries, it gives yet another amazing juice, it is highly addictive! Caja’ popsicle is also a pleasure to the palate, also a thirst lessener.
    On the other hand, i just dislike breadfruit( fruta-pao), tamarind (tamarindo), don’t like star fruit(carambola ), pomegranate ( romã) either.

    All the best

    • Jenna says:

      Vergetti, Thanks for all your recommendations! I haven’t had caja. I’m not a big fan of carambola either, but I love pomegranates. However, the pomegranates here in California are usually sweeter than the ones in Brazil. I’m going to Brazil again in December and can’t wait to eat all the fruit there! 🙂

  • Angela says:

    Thank you so much for this guide! I am planning a short visit to Brazil in late December/early January. It will be my first time visiting and I’ve always wanted to try a cashew apple… Will I be able to get one in season while there? Also, after reading your post, Jabuticaba sounds really interesting and yummy! What is the best month to eat those?

    • Jenna says:

      Hi Angela,

      Usually jabuticaba is in season in their winter, so I highly doubt you’ll be able to find those when you’re there. However, my husband (a Brazilian) thinks you should be able to find the cashew apple anytime.
      Have fun! 🙂

  • Gabriela Roman says:

    I am Brazilian and I eat many fruits with the peel because it is the best part, specially from the goiaba and the jabuticaba (don’t eat the seed because is bitter). Just bite them.

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks for chiming in! Interesting that you eat the peel of jabuticaba. I have always been surprised that many Brazilians don’t eat the skin of grapes–here in the U.S., it would be unusual not to eat the skin of grapes, but maybe the grapes in Brazil have a tougher skin…?

  • Regina Gois says:

    Congratulations, Jenna ! I live in São Paulo and I just planted my first tree jabuticaba . As a kid I am able to spend hours in front of a jabuticaba tree. And I love JACA , very cold .

    • Jenna says:

      How fun to have your first jabuticaba tree! My husband, also a Paulistano, loves cold jaca too 🙂

  • Angela Bassett says:

    We’ve just moved from California to São Paulo. I’m so excited for all the wonderful foods. Thank you for the jump start.

  • Angela says:

    We just went to a restaurant and had suco de cajú . The owner brought out a whole fruit for us to see. Just like your picture, but the scent! It was fantastic even though it was so delicate.

  • Readterest says:

    I’m from Vietnam, and these fruits are pretty much what we have here. look so delicious.

  • Monica says:

    Hello Jenna,
    So many fruits I love!
    Thanks

  • In those days, we thought pawpaw is only sweet like sugar AMD yellow like fanta; not knowing it’s a great fruit for both health benefits and cosmetic use. papaya is perfect to nourish your skin

    http://www.healthriskfood.com/2016/12/pawpaw-fruit-recipes-nutritional-facts.html

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