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, in the shopping centers 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. Many of them can be eaten raw. But the Colombians prefer their fruit blended and strained.
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 Caribbean 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 drinks 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 in a juice with milk or with water and a little lime juice.
Blend with milk or water and a little sugar.
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 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 jugos can also be combined with other fruits like pineapple, kiwi or oranges.
Blend with milk or water with a little sugar.
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 blended 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.
Blend with water – no sugar.
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.
Blend with water and sugar.
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.
Blend with milk or water and sugar.
Maracuya – also called passionfruit in English. This egg-shaped fruit is a sweet, seedy fruit that grows on a 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.
Blend with milk or water and sugar.
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. They are 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.
Blend with water and a little sugar.
Fresas – or Strawberries – were a cross between a strawberry plants which were commonly found in France and Chile in France back in 1714.
Strawberries are consumed in large quantities as preserves, in juices, pies and ice cream. In Colombia strawberries are everywhere. They are eaten by themselves, served with fresh cream or blended with milk to make a strawberry juice frappe.
Blend with milk or water and sugar.
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.
Blend with water and sugar.
Borojo – is a tropical fruit which makes a juice that is called “the love juice” in Colombia. It is also known 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 locations with a humidity of 85% 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 world problem of malnutrition. The juice has a rich taste, almost like a chocolate milk shake. It’s a blend of sweet and sour and can be 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 blended with milk and sugar. The people drink it between meals and it is very filling.
Blend with milk and sugar
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. 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 is used to treat mouth and throat infections.
Blend with water and a little sugar.
Banana– grows in trees throughout Colombia. There are a variety of bananas. From starchy plantains used for cooking to the dessert bananas – a 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 usually blended with milk or other fruit juices.
Blend with milk and no sugar.
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.
Blend with water, lemon and sugar.
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 pulp is thick, white, granular and watery. It has a flavor of pineapple and strawberry with hints of spearmint. It is an acidic fruit, very nutritious, with an earthy taste. It can be eaten raw or made with water in a juice with a little sugar added.
Blend with water and sugar.
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 or as big as a graperfuit. 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 is 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. A sweet fruit, it is best prepared with milk. This jugo helps eliminate kidney stones and will make you feel full, 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, 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 its texture is creamy and soft. The flavor is a mix of sweet potato and papaya. It makes your lips sticky. It’s so sweet it doesn’t need additional sugar. The fruit is usually eaten raw.
Blend with water or milk.
Aguacate (avocados) – Avocados are very popular in Colombia. There are many different kinds of avocados from the huge green avocados to the smaller Hass variety from California. Colombia is becoming a major exporter of the fruit. Avocado jugos are popular in the Pacific port city of Buenaventura. Called ‘fresco de Aguacate’ this drink is deliciously thick and creamy. One avocado is blended with crushed ice, milk and sugar.
Manzano (Apples) – are grown in the mountains of Colombia where they get two harvests a year. This popular, sweet, edible fruit it grows on trees which originated in Central Asia. Somewhat expensive in Colombia, they are considered an exotic fruit and are mostly eaten raw but also used in juices.
Blend with water and a little sugar.
Pera (Pears) – Pear fruit is valued for its edible fruice and juice. The fruit is consumed fresh, canned, dried and juiced. Pear trees are native to Europe, Africa and Asia. Pear wood is one of the preferred materials in the manufacture of high-quality woodwind instruments and furniture. Pears are considered an exotic fruit but are also good as a jugo. Blend it with water and a little sugar.
Naranja (oranges) – oranges in Colombia are orange or green. Both lemons and limes in Colombia are green and are both called lemons. Oranges are inexpensive. Street vendors and jugo stands offer freshly squeezed orange juice. Usually it is squeezed and served pure. Or often it is mixed with a little water (often from a jug with questionable origins). If you don’t want it with water tell them so before. It may cost a little more but they will serve it undiluted.
Best drunk pure but usually blended with a little water and no sugar.
Mandarina – (mandarins) – are a fruit which looks like an orange but has a different taste. Part of the citrus family, mandarins can contain more juice than oranges with a more pronounced aroma and a darker color. Mandarins are easier to peel and split into segments than oranges and easier to eat. They grow on small trees and can be grown in tropical and subtropical areas. Add mandarin segments to salads. Mandarins also make a nice freshly squeezed juice. Drink pure or blend with water.
Mora – (berries) – many different kinds of berries kind be found in Colombia: blueberries, black berries, strawberries along with indigenous berries like corozo. Eaten raw, or in a bowl with fresh cream, berries are also a popular juiced.
Blend with water or milk with sugar.
Sandia (watermelon) is a juicy, tropical fruit that originated in West Africa and is highly cultivated worldwide. The fruit grows on vine-like flowering plants. The plant to be eaten fresh but can also be blended into a jugo. Watermelon rind has libido-boosting powers known to help men with mild erectile dysfunction
Chontaduro (palm fruit) is a fruit that grows in clusters on palm trees in the Pacific region of Colombia. This fruit has a hard flesh and needs to be cooked for 3-5 hours. They don’t juice chontaduros but street carts serve them up by the bag full on street corners. Peel off the skin and eat the fruit inside. It tastes like a sweet potato. serve with salt or honey.
Guama (the ice cream bean) is a delicious pod fruit only found in South America. It is known as the ‘ice cream bean’. When in season it is sold on the streets. It is a long pod with large white seeds with a white pulp. The seeds are chewed and the membranes inside the pods have a slight vanilla flavor.
Granada (pomegrant) – is a ruby, red fruit-bearing which grows on shrubs. It originated in Iran and northern India and has been widely cultivated in the Mediterranean region. Pomegrant juice is best by pressing the juice from the fruit since the seeds are bitter.
Chirimoya (cherimoya) is an edible fruit native to South America. A green, cone-shaped fruit with scaly skin and a creamy sweet flesh, it is similiar to the guanabana, the fruit is a little smaller. The fruit is very sweet, like candy and tropical tasting with similarities to bananas, pineapples, papayas and peaches. It is mostly eaten raw but could also be juiced and diluted with water.
Madrono (Irish Strawberry Tree) – is a yellow, sometimes spotty fruit with a white-translucent pulp with an aromatic, acidic flavor. It grows on small, ornamental trees and is native to the wet forests of Central America. It looks like a lyche and tastes like a sour peach. It can be eaten fresh or also made into jams and jellies.
Durazno (peaches) – a fruit cultivated in the interior of Colombia it is native to N.W. China where it was first cultivated 8,000 years ago.. The peach is a soft, juicy and flesh stone fruit. It can be eaten raw,in salads, blended into a juice with water or milk and cooked down to make jellies.
Coco (coconuts) – grows on trees members of the palm family. The seed or fruit of the tree has a variety of uses. The inner flesh or the mature seed, as well as the coconut milk inside of the seed, forms a regular part of the diets of people in tropical and subtropical climates around the world. Coconuts when fresh have a thin, delicate flesh. Mature and dried coconut flesh is used to make oil and milk. It can also be grated to use in dishes like ‘arroz de coco’. The liquid inside can be drunk fresh ‘agua de coco’. The coconut meat and liquid can also be blended into delicious jugos.
Arazas – is a type of guayaba. It grows on a fruit tree native to the Amazon rainforest. It’s known as the fruit of seven flavors. It is quite sour but has a pleasant flavor, texture, color and smell. Blended with milk, it makes a delicious jugo and is commonly used to make tropical drinks and cocktails, popsicles, ice cream and jellies.
Mamoncillo (spanish lime) – Is a cross between a lychee and and lime. It grows on large, leafy trees. The fruit has a thin green skin, a layer of pulp and large seed inside. Tangy and sweet, mamoncillos are native to Central and South America. Traditionally they are eaten raw by taking off the skin and sucking on the pulp around the seed. The fruit can can be used to make drinks, desserts and jellies. The fruit can be juiced with water and a lots of sugar.
Mangostino – is a tropical evergreen tree with edible, purple fruit that is native to Southeast Asia where it is called ‘the fruit of the gods’. It is one of the rarest fruits in the world. In Colombia it is mainly produced in the department of Tolima. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. To eat the mangostino cut it in half and eat the white pulp attached to an inner seed. The taste is very sweet – a cross betwen peaches, oranges and mangoes. and smooth. The sweet pulp can be juiced with water.
Ciruela (plum) – is grown in the mountains of Colombia. Underneath the skin the yellow pulp is firm, acidic and sour when unripe and sweet, soft and juicy when they are ripe. Ciruelas are best suited for eating raw as their flavor is tart and sweet. They can be used to make a green sauce and blended into juices and fruit drinks or cooked to make jellies.
Papayuela (mountain papayas) – this fruit is similar to the papaya but less sweet. It has a chewy texture and not at all similiar to the papaya in taste. It grows in the high altitudes native to South America. It has a jelly-like pulp with seeds that look like pine cones. The taste is fresh and subtle reminiscent of pineapple, strawberry and oranges. It can be juiced or used to make jellies.
Pinuela – is an exotic, shallot-shaped fruit that grows in the Cauca region of Colombia near the Pacific coast. It is peeled like a banana and has a tart taste. It is used in juices.
Caimito (star apple) – is a fruit found around Cartagena. It grows on very large trees. The purple or green skinned fruit has a super sweet, white, juicy flesh with a mild grape flavor.
Galupa – is a passion fruit that grows on climbing vines with spectacular flowers. It has a thick, waxy rind. Inside the fruit there are sacs filled with orange colored juice and small crunchy seed. The pulp can be eaten. The fruit can also be juiced and strained.
Higos (cactus flowers) – It grows on a cactus looks like a cactus and carries small thorns. The flesh is deep-orange in color with small hard seeds. It tastes like a kiwi and are usually used for making jellies.
Corozo – is a fruit grown in the Caribbeean area of Colombia. It is small, round, reddish-purple fruit of the corozo palm. It has an acidic flavor. It is used to produce juices, soft drinks, jams and wine.
If you are looking for gastronomic experience while wandering around the markets of Colombia then head for the fruit section and look for some of the countries most exotic fruits. Here a list of the most exotic and erotic:
Galupa, Uchuva, Zapote, Pitaya, Mangostino, Borojo, Curuba, Lulo, Nispero, Guanabana, Maracuya, Granadilla and Tomate di Arbol.
And if you’re drinking your jugo at a jugo-stand be sure to ask for the napa. It’s customary in Colombia to make more juice than will fit in the glass. When you’re finished drinking your jugo ask for the napa– they will pour the napa into your glass. If they don’t, be sure to ask for the complimentary half-glass of jugo that’s waiting for you in the blender.
For more on Colombian food see the articles: Colombian Food – Fresh, Cheap, Simple and Monotonous; Why Colombia Coffee is Famous and Rated Best in the World and Arepas: Colombia’s Iconic food
Please leave your comments, personal experiences or any questions you may have in the comment box below and we will get back to you.