The highlight of Colombian cuisine is the ‘jugo‘ or fruit juice. Jugos are served with every meal. They are served in jugo bars, in ice cream parlors and in the back of fruit stores. There are people blending jugos on the street and rows of jugo stands in the central food markets.
With such a wide variety of exotic fruits in Colombia one could discover a new fruit everyday. Most of these fruits are rarely seen outside of Colombia. Why? Because they are fragile, susceptible to bruising and discoloration. These fruits, when ripe, rarely last a day or two.
The Colombian people consume a lot of fruit juice. It’s rare to see them eat vegetables but they love their jugos. Every household has a blender and strainer. They just drop the fruit into the blender, add water, blend 15 seconds so as not to break the seeds and strain. If your diet consists of a lot of vegetables you’ll probably have to purchase them in the market because you won’t find them much cooked or raw in the restaurants. Or just amp up your intake of fruit juices as they can be found everywhere.
Many of these jugos have fantastic health benefits.
Guanabana – a dark green, prickly fruit called a Soursop in English. It grows on an evergreen tree that can reach up to 13 feet tall and is native to the tropical areas of the Americas, the Carribean and Asia – anywhere there is high humidity and heat. The fruit has a flavor of lettuce and tomatoes with sour citrus and an underlying creamy texture reminiscent of banana. In South America it is used by the locals as a treatment for cancer. It is a fresh, creamy, naturally sweet fruit. The inner white pulp is edible but the black seeds are not. The pulp is used to make a fruit nectar, smoothies, fruit juice drink as well as candies, sorbets and as an ice cream flavoring. The taste is a combination of lime, strawberry and banana.
Make the jugo with or without milk. Just add a little water or milk and blend. Add ice cubes to the finished product. It is one of the most popular fruits in Colombia, matures quickly and can be eaten fresh. You can eat the insides of the fruit, not the skin, or in a juice with milk or with water and a little lime juice.
Mangoes – are a juicy stone fruit that grows in the tropics on trees, over 100 feet tall. The fruit is widely distributed and is one of the most widely cultivated fruits in the tropics. The trees often grow in the wild. The fruit has been imported to North American since the 17th century. Ripe mangoes have an orange-yellow or reddish peel and are juicy for eating. Mangoes are sweet with a soft, pulpy texture with a fibrous texture. Mangoes can be used in chutneys, as a side, eaten raw with salt, chili or soy sauce. They can be used to make juices or mashed and used as an ice cream topping. In Colombia there are two types of Mangoes – Mango de azucar (sugar mangoes) or mango dulce (sweet Mango) – which they say you should only use to juice. The other kind of mangoes are small and are good for just peeling and eating.
Make mango jugo without milk. Mango juice can also be combined with other fruits like pineapple, kiwi or oranges.
Curuba – called Banana passion fruit in English. It looks like a straight, small banana with rounded ends. It grows off of vigorous vines that can grow up to 70 feet long. Colombia is one of the world’s largest consumers of Curuba fruit juices.
The pulp of the Curuba fruit can be blended with milk, water and sugar. It has a nice acidic taste. Colombians also blend it with the aguardiente anise drink to make a cocktail.
Papaya – is a fruit from a tropical fruit tree that grows 16-33 feet tall. The fruit is usually eaten raw without the skin or seeds. The seeds have a sharp, spicy taste and can be dried and ground and used as pepper. The pulp of the fruit can be white or pink, It can be eaten like an apple or with a pinch of salt and can be used in salads.
The pulp is used in juices and can be made with water or milk, lemon or lime juice. In Colombia they prefer papaya jugos without milk. Papaya combined with guayaba makes a jugo with a lot of vitamin C. The taste is very acidic and refreshing, like lemonade.
Tomate de arbol – called Tamarillo or tree tomato in English. The egg shaped yellow or red fruit grows on a small tree that can get up to 15 feet high. It is a native to Colombia and is cultivated in gardens and small orchards. It is a sweet fruit with a sour center. It’s high in vitamins and iron while low in calories. In Ecuador it is blended with chili peppers to make a hot sauce.
The pulp from the fruit is considered too tart to eat and only good for juicing. It is blended with water and sugar to make juice. It can also be combined with fruits like maracuya and guayaba. Very refreshing, it can be blended with milk or without.
Lulo – also known as naranjilla (little orange) is a fruit with a green pulp with a distinctive tart, citrus flavor described as a cross between rhubarb and lime. It grows on a small shrub or tree. This fruit can be eaten on it’s own, it can be cooked or juiced. It is high in vitamin C and is a boost to the immune system.
Blend with water and sugar – without milk it is one of Colombia’s favorite fruits for juicing.
Maracuya – also called passionfruit in English. This egg-shaped fruit is a sweet, seedy fruit that grows on deeply rooted vine. The juice is slightly acidic and musty. Some people say this is the best juice in Colombia. It is blended without milk.
Pina – or pineapple – grows in a tropical plant that looks like a big agave cactus. The fruit looks like a pine cone and when European settlers first discovered them in South America they called them pine-apples. High in vitamin C and manganese.
The pineapple pulp can be juiced mixed with water, but not milk. It is the main ingredient in a pina colada. Crushed pineapple can also be used in yogurt, and on ice cream. In Colombia they soak the ready to eat pineapple bits in salted water for one minute before serving or juicing. The salt water dulls the sharp acidity of the pineapple.
Fresas – or Strawberries – were a cross between a strawberry plants commonly found in France and Chile in France back in 1714.
Strawberries are consumed in large quantities as preserves, juice, pies and ice cream. In Colombia strawberries are everywhere. There are eaten by themselves or served with fresh cream or blended with milk to make a strawberry juice frappe.
Uva Magro – are a particular breed of berry/grapes known to Colombia. They make the jugos without milk. blended with a little water. It tastes like a grape juice.
Borojo – is a tropical fruit which makes a juice that is called “the love juice” in Colombia. Also knows as the Colombian Viagra for its aphrodisiac properties. The drink is commonly sold outside of the soccer stadiums. The fruit grows on a tree in Northwest Colombia, on the Panamanian border, in the Darien pass and also on the Pacific coast; all places with 85% humidity or more. The juice is rich in vitamins, minerals and protein. One pound of Borojo pulp has the protein equivalent of 3 pounds of meat. Some doctors claim growing this fruit on a global scale would solve the problem of malnutrition. The juice has a rich taste. It’s a blend of sweet and sour. It is used as a base for rum cocktails.
The most common juice blend is a mixture of borojo pulp, coconut milk, two egg yolks, lots of sugar, vanilla and nutmeg. More simply it can be made with milk and sugar. The people drink between meals and it is very filling.
Uchuva – is a beautiful little round, yellow shiny fruit encased in a lantern paper like sack of inedible beige husk. It’s called a Cape Gooseberry in English and is related to the tomatillo. The fruit is a round, smooth berry resembling miniature yellow tomato which is bright yellow to orange in color. You open the husk and take out the orange balls. They have a soft, sweet taste, slightly acidic. It can be juiced or made into fruit-based sauces and chutneys. The fruit contains flavonoids which kill stomach parasites and aids digestion. Some doctors even say it prevents colon and stomach cancer and it is used to treat mouth and throat infections.
Banana– grows in trees throughout Colombia. There are a variety of bananas in Colombia. From starchy plantains used for cooking to the dessert bananas – fruit for eating. There are big ones like the large Cavendish bananas exported all over the world and the small, sweet bananitos also called ‘bocaditos’. Extracting juice is difficult because the banana is so compressed so it is mixed with milk or other fruit juices.
Caramabola – is also known as star fruit. It grows on trees. Star fruit tastes best ripe (yellow with a little hint of green). The edges will be brown and feel hard. It if is overripe it will be yellow with brown spots. The entire fruit can be eaten, even the skin. It is sweet and very juicy. The taste is a mix of papaya, orange and grapefruit.
Curuba – is a relative of the passion fruit. The fruits are long and look like a banana with rounded ends. It grows on vines and is a prolific producer – a single vine can grow up to 300 fruits. In Hawaii the vine is an invasive species. The fruit can be eaten raw. It has a flavor similar to maracuya. Colombians like to prepare it with milk and sugar.
Feijoa -also called Pineapple Guava in English. The fruit has an elongated pear shape and grows on a shrub that can reach 15 feet high and 15 feet wide. The thick, white, granular, watery pulp has a flavor of pineapple and strawberry with hints of spearmint. It is an acidic fruit very nutritious with an earthy taste. Came be eaten raw or made with water in a juice with a little sugar added.
Granadilla – in English known as ‘sugar fruit’. It grows on a vine. It has a smooth, slippery, brittle, thick skin with a soft inner padding to protect the seeds. The pulp is white-yellow mucilaginous, very juicy with an aromatic flavor and soft, black, edible seeds. The fruit is usually cut in half and the pulp eaten with a spoon. To try granadillia for the first time is a sensual experience. It’s like the maracuya. you have to open the casing and slurp the pulp and the seeds. Bet you can’t eat just one.
Guyaba – guava in English – is grown on trees. The fruit can be as small as an apricot of as big as a grapefuit. It is used for flavoring sodas in Colombia. It is eaten raw. Because of the high levels of pectin, guyabas are used to make candies, bocadillos, preserves and jellies. The fruit is used in fruit juices and it high in vitamin C.
Nispero – it’s like a juicy kiwi but the interior is more like a papaya. Known in English as the Loquat. The skin can be eaten but the best bit is the flesh inside. The fruit contains large seeds that are toxic and must not be eaten. It makes a sweet fruit best prepared with milk. It helps eliminate kidney stones and will make you feel full. It’s a great drink if you’re dieting.
Pitaya – or dragon fruit, is a brilliantly-colored fruit similar to a melon or kiwi in flavor. The skin be can be red or yellow and the inside white or red. Though a little costly, the pitaya fruit is said to help prevent memory loss and some cancers. Diabetics eat pitaya to control their blood glucose levels. The fruit is eaten raw or juiced with water.
Zapote (Sapote) – is one of Colombia’s toughest fruits. It grows fast and is wind and drought resistant and able to grow in dry arid regions. It is a soft, edible fruit. It has a salmon color and the texture is creamy and soft. The flavor is a mix of sweet potato and papaya. It makes your lips sticky. So sweet it doesn’t need additional sugar. The fruit can be eaten raw or made into a jugo blended with water or milk.
(see article: ‘Arepas: Colombia’s Iconic food’)
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