Florida's Gulf Coast
Florida Tropical Fruits
Warm oceans surround the
southern tip of Florida, producing
a tropical climate ideal for the
growth of nutritious tropical fruits. Many
of these fruits are not grown anywhere
else in the continental United States.
Tropical fruits available
"Fresh from Florida" include:
There are two types of
annonas grown in
Florida, atemoyas and
sugar apples, and both
are similar in appearance.
The fruits are light green,
have a bumpy skin, and are
about 3 inches wide and 4
inches long. Atemoyas and sugar
apples are made up of small segments that when ripe
separate to expose the white flesh of sweet fragrance and
fine creamy texture. Annonas can be eaten fresh from the
shell with a spoon while the seeds are separated in the
mouth and discarded. The flesh is often added to fruit
cups, ice cream, blended with milk and juices to make a
cool beverage, and can also be frozen.
Available year round
Florida grows over
50 varieties of
banana that range
from 3 inches to
16 inches in length.
The fruit turns from
deep green to yellow or red
when ripened, and the fruit’s
texture can be firm or soft when ripe. After the peel is
removed to expose the white or yellowish fragrant
flesh, it is ready to be eaten. Bananas are a versatile fruit
that can be eaten fresh, with ice cream, fried as a side dish,
and pureed for breads, pies, custards, and milkshakes.
Bananas can also be mashed and used as a staple in baby
foods or even dried and made into a flour for pastries.
Available year round;
most plentiful Fall/Winter
The carambola is a tree
with fruit of golden yellow
color and a touch of green
along the edges when ripe. It is
oblong, up to 6 inches in length, and
deeply lobed, and when cut in cross section, the slices form
a star that gives the fruit its common name of “Star Fruit.”
This fruit is completely edible with a thin skin and juicy,
crisp flesh, that is sweet. Florida’s sweet carambolas are
enjoyed fresh, in fruit salads and in many desserts, including
fruit tarts and upside-down cakes. The fruit adds flavor
and beauty to stir-fried entrees and tossed green salads.
Carambola juice can be made into delicious Florida fruitbased
wines, and mixed with gelatin or sherbets.
Available January-February and May-October
Guavas are small, oval fruits about 2-6 inches in size with a
thin, light yellow-green skin that is edible. The ripe fruit
softens to the touch
and emits a sweet,
The flesh of
the guava can be
white, pink, yellow or
red, with numerous,
small edible seeds. It is
delicious eaten out of hand, sliced
in fruit cups, pureed for cream desserts, juiced and used in
punch, ice cream and sodas, or frozen for later use.
The longan, a close
cousin of the litchi, is a
tree fruit that grows in
clusters. The individual
fruits are round with a
diameter of about
1 inch and are covered
with a brown skin that
has a smooth to
“pebble” like texture.
The flesh of the longan is translucent, white and crisp.
Inside the fruit is a single, round seed. Longans are eaten
fresh out of hand (discarding the peel and seed), canned
in syrup, baked in pies as filling, or placed in fruit cups.
They can also be dried and eaten like raisins, or frozen
whole in plastic containers.
Available late May-early July
Lychees grow on trees in clusters
of 2 to 30 fruits and ripen at the
end of spring. This heart shaped
fruit has a diameter of 1 to 2
inches and is yellow-red or
reddish-brown in color. The
thin skin is bumpy, leathery,
and easy to peel. Inside, the
pulp is translucent, sweet and
juicy, and surrounds a single seed, and the flavor is sweet,
fragrant and delicious. Lychees are peeled, pitted, and
eaten out of hand, added to fruit cups, stuffed with
cottage cheese, or blended with ice cream, gelatin or fruit
juices. Lychees may also be added to stir-fry dishes, placed
on baking hams, or grilled on steaks. When the fruit is
dried whole, the skin hardens and when shaken, the fruit
inside rattles like a nut which gives it the name “lychee
nut.” Lychees can be stored whole in plastic bags and
frozen to enjoy throughout the year.
This large, long fruit has
coarse, brown, leathery skin,
and when ripe, yields to a
gentle squeeze. The beautiful
flesh is salmon or red-colored,
and is sweet tasting, and its fragrance complements
its flavor. The texture of this
non-fibrous fruit is custard-like. Mamey Sapote is used in
milkshakes and smoothies, fruit salads, cooked in desserts, or
eaten raw with cream and sugar. Mamey also freezes well.
Florida grows many different
varieties of mangos that can
measure up to 8 inches in
diameter. The fruit’s skin is
leathery and smooth, and colored with
greens, yellows and reds. Inside, the color of
the flesh ranges from pale yellow to deep orange. A
ripe mango is soft to the touch, with a pleasing aroma, and
has a tropical peach-like flavor. Mango is enjoyed in many
ways. One easy way is to peel it and slice the fruit into wedges.
Mango can be cubed and added to fruit salads, gelatins, pies
and cobbler, eaten as a fresh dessert or frozen. Mangos can
also be used green sprinkled with salt, or pickled in a salsa as a
condiment. Frozen mango juice adds a tasty twist to a cool
beverage on a summer day.
melon in shape, size and
texture, and is grown on a small tree. The skin is thin,
smooth, tough, and is light or deep yellow in color when
ripe. The inside flesh may be yellow, orange or salmon
color, and it encloses numerous small, peppery seeds in the
center of the fruit. Papayas are juicy and sweet, and taste
similar to a cantaloupe with a characteristic fragrance.
Although most commonly eaten fresh, after being peeled
and cut into wedges, papayas can be served frozen, in fruit
salads, added to ice cream, baked and eaten as a vegetable,
pickled, or juiced and blended into beverages and gelatins.
Unripe, green papayas are boiled and served as a vegetable,
or cubed and cooked in vegetable soup. The fruit contains
papain, which helps digestion and is used to tenderize meat.
This vine fruit is round
and 3 inches in
diameter. Its color
ranges from dark
purple with faint
white specks, to light yellow, and the rind is tough,
smooth, and approximately 1/8 inch thick. Under the
rind lies a membranous sac filled with orange, pulpy juice
with a characteristic flavor, and numerous hard black and
brown seeds. This fruit is eaten by scooping out the pulp
of a halved passion fruit – seeds and all. Eat it fresh or add
cream and sugar. Passion fruit may also be added to fruit
salads or beverages to give a delicious, tropical taste. Some
prefer to remove the seeds by pressing the fruit through a
cheese cloth or strainer. Then, the juice is added to
beverages or sherbets or boiled and used in sauces,
gelatins, candy, cake icing and filling, chiffon pie, or
Information Provided by Florida Department of Agruculture