Although overall export trade has been falling, one bright spot for Peruvian exports is the commerce in fruits and vegetables. As the drought intensifies in California, it’s quite possible that Peru may become an even more important source for US consumers in the future. Particularly hard hit by the dry weather has been asparagus which Peru produces in abundance.
In addition to fresh vegetables, Peru has a number of wonderful fruits that are largely unknown here. See below…
Peruvian fruits and veggies exports increased 5.1% in January compared to the same period last year, reports Fresh Plaza.
The Minister of Trade and Tourism (Mincetur), Magali Silva announced the positive results that bring Peru to have 19 consecutive months of expansion in fruits and vegetables exports.
Grapes finished as the most successful export for Peru, registering a 10% increase in exports and valuing US$ 119 million compared to the same period in 2014. This was primarily due to higher demand coming from economic giants, the United States and Hong Kong.
Following fresh grapes in the export race, are fresh mangoes. In January, mango exports valued US$ 8 million, representing an increase of 16%. This surge is mostly due to increases in markets in the United Kingdom (42%), Spain (37%), the Netherlands (21%), and the US (10%).
Finishing in third place for highest exports in January, chilled asparagus. With a 10% increase, chilled asparagus was a popular choice for the month of January. It’s lower placement may be due to growers switching to the higher yielding fresh grape industry.
Silva reported that despite the positive growth of fruit and vegetable exports in Jan. 2015, the total exports decreased by US$ 385 million. This is primarily due to the poor performance of fishmeal, oil, and natural gas industries.
Fruits You May Never Have Even Heard of
Aguaje – Most commonly seen in Peru’s Amazon regions, Aguaje is, like Camu Camu or acai, a superfruit just waiting to be discovered. It comes from the Moriche palm, native to the Peruvian Amazon. It’s similar in size to an egg and covered in purple scales, which when removed reveal a bright yellow-orange flesh that surrounds a large seed. Aguaje pulp is extremely rich in essential fatty acids and has a high Vitamin a and C content. Use: juices, jams, ice creams, desserts, cocktails.
Lucuma – Everyone who tastes lucuma, the Peruvian eggfruit as it is sometimes called, falls in love with it. The flavor is sort of a caramel custard or pumpkin and the texture is rather dry and paste like, but can easily become creamy. Lucuma grows at altitudes above 1,000 meters up to 2400 meters. It has an ovoid shape of about 5 to 8 cm long, green yellowish color when ripe. Pealing its thin skin reveals a dry and starchy orange-yellow flesh. Because lucuma doesn’t keep well after picked, export outside of Peru or Chile is rare except in the form of pulp and powder. Use: Ice cream, cakes, cocktails, yogurt, or pasta noodles.
Camu Camu – Peru’s hottest fruit. The small red berry (it resembles a cherry) is extremely high in vitamin C Camu Camu fruit is Peru’s answer to Brazil’s acai. Imagine a blend of a lime, cherry, and a grapefruit and that’s the flavor of camu camu fruit. (One of our favorites!)
Use: juices, jams, desserts, sauces, natural medicines.
Sauco – Called Elderberry in English, Sauco is native to the Andes. It’s rich in vitamins C and antioxidants. It’s most commonly seen in marmalades or on cheesecake in Peru. Use: In desserts (especially cheesecake), in cocktails, in marmalades, as a sauce for lamb and other meats.
Tumbo – Part of the passion fruit family, tumbo is anorange, banana shaped fruit. Inside of the tumbo there is a passion fruit-like cluster of black seeds and pulp that’s enclosed by a firm yellow skin. Normally tumbos are acidic and tart, therefore rarely eaten raw. Use: juices, jams, ice cream, cocktails, or as an alternative for lime in ceviche.
Cocona – Cocona is sometimes called the Amazonian Tomoato, or the tree tomato. Native to Amazon regions of Peru, the tropical citrus fruit tastes somewhere between a lime and a tomato. Use: Juice, cocktails, jams, ceviche, soups, mixed with aji charapita in a sauce.
Peruvian Lime – Considering Peruvian cuisine is catching on outside of Peru, one of its most important ingredients is the Peruvian Lime, native to the northern coast of the country (sometimes called the Piuran lime).Only around 3 to 4 cm, the Peruvian lime is highly acidic and quite sour. It’s closest in comparison to the Key lime. Use: Cebiche, pisco sours, sauces, desserts (especially pies).
Chirimoya – Chirimoya (sometimes spelled Cherimoya) is called the Custard Apple in English. It’s native to the Andes, heart shaped with a tough skin that changes from light green to dark green. The inside flesh is white and creamy, almost custard like, with big dark seeds. Peach, pineapple, and banana are all flavors it evokes. Use: In pies, mousse, or sauces with fish.
Aguaymanto – Aguaymanto, aka Tomatito Silvestre, Tomatillo, Capulí or in the US, Peruvian cherry or cape gooseberry. The fruit grows in high altitudes and has been cultivated since Inca times. It has a sweet and sour taste and a pleasant flavor and is high in Vitamin A, B and C and is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Use: In desserts, jams, cocktails, sauces with fish.
As we focus more and more on freshness and natural products, Peru remains a great source of fruits and vegetables that are typically produced using natural methods, and many delightful “new” fruits for those exploring unique tastes and aromas. Enjoy Peru!
©2015 Ben Gangloff
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