Flavors of the Jungle: Tropical Exotic Fruits and Edible Flora of Costa Rica

Also called el monte, the jungles in Costa Rica are abundant in fruits and natural plants with tremendous taste and health benefits. Here are some exotic examples and ideas on how to incorporate them into your daily culinary creations.

Exotic Fruits

Soursop (Annona muricata)

  • Taste: Sweet and slightly acidic
  • Health Benefits: Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Culinary Uses: Juiced, smoothies, baked goods

Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana)

  • Taste: Ranges from sweet to tangy
  • Health Benefits: Rich in vitamins and antioxidants
  • Culinary Uses: Fresh, fruit desserts, fruit salads, sorbets

Star Fruit (Averrhoa carambola)

  • Taste: Sweet and sour
  • Health Benefits: High in vitamin C
  • Culinary Uses: Fresh, salads, food decoration, beverages

Edible Plants

Cassava (Manihot esculenta)

  • Nutritional Value: High in carbohydrates and fiber
  • Culinary Uses: Boiling, frying, soups, stews, flour for bread and cakes

Chayote (Sechium edule)

  • Nutritional Value: Low in calories, high in fiber
  • Culinary Uses: Salads, soups, stir-fry, potato substitute

Yam (Dioscorea spp.)

  • Nutritional Value: Rich in vitamins and minerals
  • Culinary Uses: Similar to potatoes, pastes, soups, shallow fried

Incorporating Into Daily Cooking

  • Smoothies and Juices: Add soursop or star fruit for a vitamin boost.
  • Salads: Mix in mangosteen and chayote for extra flavor and health benefits.
  • Main Dishes: Use cassava and yam as nutritious side dishes.
  • Desserts: Experiment with these fruits in pies, ice creams, and sorbets.


Where can I purchase these fruits and plants in Costa Rica?

  • Visit farmer’s markets, local produce markets, or local stores.

How can I determine if the exotic fruit is ripe?

  • Soursop: Should feel smooth on the outside.
  • Star Fruit: Should have a ripe yellow color on the outside.

Explore these jungle flavors and bring the unique taste of Costa Rican fruits and edible plants into your everyday meals!

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