If food is one of the best ways to explore and get to know a different culture then the best way to get to know North Queensland is by indulging in its tropical fruit and exploring the ones not usually available in your local supermarket.
Bananas, pineapples, melons and coconuts are perhaps the best known tropical fruit that you can buy pretty much all year round in tropical Australia. But there are also lots of other more obscure tropical fruit that are rarely exported overseas.
Local growers markets always have a great selection of fruit so you can buy a few and take them away to sample.
Many of the more usual fruits are in season in the dry season (May-Sept). Stone fruit including mangoes are available in the summer months.
Everyone knows about mangoes but we’ve decided to include them on our list here for two reasons: 1) they are TOTALLY delicious and a favourite fruit for many people and 2) they have a limited harvest season so depending on when you visit you may not get to eat our delicious ‘fruit of the gods’.
The mango season in North Queensland generally starts around November and goes through to April. Christmas is peak mango season.
Many people use these names interchangeably but papaya and pawpaw are actually different varieties of the same fruit.
Pawpaw are larger with yellow fruit on the inside. Papaya are smaller with a red fruit on the inside.
They grow easily in tropical climates and are usually available all year round.
They can be an acquired taste, so if you don’t like the flavour, try it with lime juice squeezed over it. This combination also makes a delicious salsa to go with fish – chop papaya, red onion and coriander together and then squeeze lime juice through it and mix. Yum.
3. rollinia & custard apples
Rollinia is actually a type of custard apple that’s native to Brazil. Both varieties are available to buy in North Queensland.
Rollina is often referred to as the fruit that tastes like lemon meringue pie. When you open up either of these fruit you’re greeted by a delicious white soft creamy flesh. They also have a lot of large black seeds so be prepared to spit them out.
You eat it by cutting it in half and using a spoon to dig out the flesh. Definitely worth trying if you see them.
Dragonfruit looks more spectacular than it tastes but its another one of those fruits that suddenly tastes much better if you squeeze lime juice over it.
They are becoming more commercially available in supermarkets and they always add a bit of pizzazz to a fruit salad, even if its only for the look of it rather than the taste.
5. black sapote
Black Sapote is a very unusual tropical fruit. On the inside its like a rich gooey chocolate pudding without the sugar.
It’s a bit rich to eat on its own so eat it with other fruit like banana. It works better with other ingredients and makes terrific chocolate icecream.
If you buy one make sure its ripe before you eat it. It should be soft and turning black on the outside.
On the inside of the fruit, rambutan are exactly like lychees so you eat them in the same way.
Cut the skin around the middle to pull of the outside and then eat it
Passionfruit grow like crazy in north Queensland and are available all year round.
When you cut them open they’re full of orange goodness with lots of black seeds that are edible. You can just scoop them out and eat them but many people like to add them as a topping to fruit salad, ice cream, cheesecake etc.
The taste is very distinctive and delicious.
Cacao is not really a great fruit for eating but, because the seeds are ground down to make chocolate, it’s worth getting one just to see what they’re like.
When you cut them open they are filled with almond shaped seeds, each one is inside a pocket of white flesh, which you can suck. It tastes quite nice but there’s not a lot to it.
Mangosteens are the other hand are surprisingly yummy and definitely worth tucking into.
Native to Asia they grow quite easily in north Australia.
The best way to eat them is to cut them around the middle and scoop out the flesh, which is sweet and yummy.
To say Durian is an acquired taste would be a major under-statement.
Native to South East Asia, this spiky and unbelievably pungent smelling tropical fruit is banned from subways and hotels. Seriously, after driving home with this one from the markets my car stank for days!
However, you’ve got to try it at least once in your life. If you get an opportunity it is probably best to try one directly on a farm to be sure you’re getting the best quality.
On the inside it has creamy flesh that looks like big oysters. And the taste? Definitely an acquired taste.
travel nq fast facts:
- Head to the local growers markets to buy a selection of tropical fruit
- Some farms offer farm tours (usually just in the dry season). They’re available in Mission Beach and the Daintree.