Mouthwatering Free Fruit in Costa Rica

One of the things most people savor about summertime anywhere in the world is gleaning wild fruit whether it be wild blackberries, salmonberries, apples, pears, cherries or nuts. I loved gathering tart apples, plums and cherries in Oregon from roadside trees. They were rarely hybridized, grafted, fertilizer-fattened specimens, but they were just as delicious as those in the supermarket bins if not more so.
Various citrus fruits in Costa Rica
This morning's juice fruit selection

Most of our roadside fruit here in Costa Rica is of the citrus variety, though there are varieties of vine berries and occasionally other tropical tree fruits to be had. Most of the latter, such as water apples or guanabana, come from neighbors' trees, which they readily share with us.

The past week, Tamara and I have been collecting various citrus fruits on our neighborhood walks and this morning I clambered down the steep hillside below our balcony, thick with six-foot tall coffee plants to add some sour mandarines  to the growing collection.

Despite a similar appearance, these are not the same as the Mandarin oranges one finds on store shelves in the States. These possess a bit thicker peel and are very sour (or ácido in local parlance). Locals claim these provide more health benefits than other citrus fruits such lowering cholesterol and cleaning your liver of toxins.

In the picture upper right, starting from the left side are these fruits: sweet lemons, mandarines, sweet oranges, grapefruit and a few sour lemons.



Making the Sunday breakfast's juice
I decided to squeeze juice from all of these to make a citrus medley. Sometimes these ad hoc squeezings come out sour enough that some sweetener is needed, but this time the sweet and sour balanced very well, so that the final mixture was tart but not mouth-puckeringly so.

We do not have fresh citrus all year, at least not that we can glean ourselves, but there is always some locally grown fruit of one type or another available throughout the entire year. For instance, right now mangosteen are in season, which are especially rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
Not only are they as cute as the dickens, but they are mouthwateringly delicious. The flavor of the inner seed pulp is very much akin to D'Anjou pears in my opinion. The outer skin is not edible, but it can be used to make an antioxidant-rich tea or sweet compote. The trick is finding them at a reasonable price. They can go for as much as $3/lb., but lucky shoppers can find them for a third of that quite often.

Our own orchard is slowly coming along with some trees finally bearing fruit. After about 5+ years, we are finally harvesting some guanabana, mulberries and soon, we hope, some matasanos fruit, which is also reputed to be rich in vitamins. Besides those, we have quite a few bananas, plantain, pineapple, wild berries, guava, nance, citrus and occasionally naranjillo on our finca.

There seems to be an endless variety of local fruits in Costa Rica, including apples grown high in the mountains that are very much like those roadside apples I always gathered in Oregon each summer. It is one of the big pluses to living here to have the opportunity to sample as many kinds of fruits as possible and to be surprised by a new one you'd never heard of.

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