Six Exotic fruits of the Guiana Shield

By: Tania van Velthuizen

August 2019

The Guiana Shield has all kinds of tropical fruits that you do not know yet. I love fruits and what is nicer than tasting new fruits in an exotic country? In Guyana, the Golden Apple is the national fruit and in Suriname, the Milk fruit. Both can be found in my dad’s garden! Want a bite?

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Taste exotic ripe fruit in the Guianas!

A local guide can take you along markets and tell you about tropical fruits that are being sold by local vendors. Does not matter if you are in French Guyana, Suriname, or Guyana. We have the same weather and the same fruits although with other names. I have made a list of my favorite fruits!

What is the national fruit of Guyana?

The tasty Golden Apple is the popular tropical fruit Guyana. This stone fruit is egg-shaped and in Suriname, it’s called Pomme de cythère. The ripe fruit is yellow and sweet. Juice is made from the young green fruits. Small bottles of this juice can be bought in the supermarket. Very popular is the pomme de cythère on vinegar (just as gherkins). Street vendors sell various fruits on vinegar in beautiful jars. You can also get it in a plastic bag as a pickle. Pomme de cythère is also sold as a sweet by the vendors along the streets. In Guyana, the ‘Golden Apple’ is the national fruit!!

Milk fruit is the national fruit of Suriname! 

Not a lot of Surinamese knew this fact, not even me! The Chrysophyllum cainito tree grows in the tropics and is the family of the Sapotaceae. It has many names such as milk fruit and in Sierra Leone, the fruit is referred to as “Bobi Wata” or Breast Milk Fruit. In Suriname, it is known as Sterapple. this fruit can be found in the 3 Guyana’s and grows rapidly and reaches 20 m in height. The fruit is round and typically measures from 2 to 3 inches in diameter. When ripe, it usually has purple skin with a faint green area appearing around the calyx. A radiating star pattern is visible in the pulp. Greenish-white and yellow-fruited cultivars are sometimes available. It’s not my favorite fruit because of the fact that I found worms in them and the milk is sticky.

The bimbli berry

The bilimbi cucumber tree is a fruit-bearing tree and native to Indonesia. This fruit is called  Birambi in Suriname and the fruit is sour, and can not be eaten directly from the tree. In Suriname chutney is made from this long Birambi. This chutney, however, is not sweet, but it is a kind of sambal with Hindustani herbs, pepper, and salt. The long Birambi is also put in a jar with vinegar and served as a side dish with rice. In Indonesia, this fruit, is used as a food seasoning.

The round Birambi is also put in a jar with vinegar or cooked with sugar and can be bought at street stalls. I always buy a box of small sweetened Birambi and I eat them one by one in front of the television. I am happy for an hour, delicious! Hmmm, if I think about it, I already long for it!

The Indian cherry in Suriname

The West Indian and the Monki-monki cherry are known in Suriname. The trees blossom the whole year. Both fruits are sour-sweet. The Monki-monki cherry has a kind of parts and is mostly orange-red. It is a strong anti-oxidant and traditional medicine against rheumatic disorders. The West Indian cherry or Barbados cherry or Acerola is one of the healthiest fruits in the world because it is full of vitamin C and polyphenols and is said to have medicinal characteristics against diabetes and cancer. In Suriname almost nobody takes Vitamin C tablets; you just go to the cherry tree in the back-yard and you eat some 3 cherries! Look out for the many biting ants in the tree! In Guyana, you can get fresh cherry juice in restaurants.

Coconut is a fruit, not a nut!

Nothing is so refreshing as the water of a young coconut! The palm trees grow at the coast, namely in District Coronie. Suriname is known for its coconut trees. You can buy a fresh cold coconut at stalls alongside the road in the Guianas. The top is cut off and with a straw, you can enjoy the fresh coconut water. The fruit pulp of the old brown-colored coconut is used to make products, such as coconut oil, coconut milk, and sweets. There are fields full of coconut trees in Guyana and you can order fresh coconut water in every restaurant. Nothing tastes better on a hot sunny day than a cold fresh coconut in the Guianas!

What are the benefits of citrus fruits?

The term citrus covers fruits like the red and yellow king, tangelo, pomelo, grapefruit, Curaçaose oranges, mandarins, oranges, and lemons. In Guyana, lemon and orange are the best known citrus fruits. Juices are made of all these fruits. Very refreshing and full of vitamin C. Citrus trees just grow in the garden, but there are also plantations, such as Katwijk, situated in district Commewijne/ Suriname. The pomelo is a huge fruit and can become as big as a football. Lemon is a small fruit and is yellow when it is ripe. Salted lemon is grated ripe lemon put in a jar, salt, and fresh peppers (Madame Jeanette) are added and served as a side dish.

While reading this list you will certainly see fruits that you already knew and some that you did not. Feel free to visit the local markets while visiting the Guianas and taste more exotic fruits! You can also watch this interesting movie and see more fruit in the Guianas and how to eat them!

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Tania van Velthuizen is the owner of Pejego Tours. She was born and raised in Suriname. She studied Surinamese law and loves to travel. Before going to Europe, she worked at the Ministry of Regional Development, so she visited every bit of the Amazon rainforest. At the time, she fell in love with everything it had to offer, including the Amerindians and the Maroons, the fauna and flora. She also wrote a book on the land rights of Indigenous people and the descendants of the Maroons.

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