Welcome back to our series on cuisine that is distinctly Belize! Since local fruits are quite common in most Belizean diets, we’ll explore some of the flavors that you can expect. It is unusual to have a wide selection of fresh vegetables in Belize, as the local crops tend towards fruit and grain, but you’ll find by going for what’s fresh and in season, you will be rewarded with a versatile world of flavor that can’t be beat.
In some of the world’s best-stocked places you will pay a premium for the types of fruits that are available in Belize, and for these, you’ll never be able to taste anything fresher than what you’ll find in the country. Prickly Pears, for example – one of the juiciest fruits you could ever bite into – will never achieve the sweetness and flavor that you’ll find when you’re eating just picked fruit. Each fruit can yield up to a cup (250ml) of juice, which can be drunk on its own or blended into a delicious rum cocktail (recipe follows). There are several varieties of Prickly Pear, some with flavors that resemble a watermelon, others closer to a strawberry. It is the fruit of a cactus, and gets its name from the spiny rind that hides the juicy riches inside. It’s easy to peel though: just make a vertical cut down the length of the fruit, slide your fingers underneath the skin and work your thumbs around until the rind has been removed. Discard the skin and process in a blender or juicer, or just eat it up right there and then.
Soursop fruit is another crazy looking fruit, also known as guanabana. The fruit can range in size anywhere from four inches to twelve inches in length, and some single fruits can weigh up to fifteen pounds! In some ways, it has similar attributes as a pineapple, with a spiny rind and a fibrous, creamy colored sub-acid fruit on the inside. It has a unique and mild flavor that has been compared to pineapple, strawberry and citrus, with distinctly creamy notes not unlike coconut or banana. You’ll find soursop is a popular icecream flavor, and a top seller among the locals.
Dragonfruit is both exotic looking and plentiful in Belize, and you’ll find it growing wild in many places. This mild flavored soft fruit is native to Central America and according to Aztec history, has been cultivated as far back as the thirteenth century. Pollinated by nocturnal creatures such as bats and moths, it can only grow in tropical conditions.
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Here’s a delicious and refreshing Prickly Pear Planters Punch (say that ten times fast!) that you’re going to love:
Makes one pitcher, which yields about four to six drinks, depending.
1 cup rum
¼ cup southern comfort (can substitute jack daniels)
¼ cup almond liqueur
¼ cup grenadine
juice of three limes
2 cups prickly pear juice
½ cup orange juice
orange slices for garnish
Add all ingredients to a pitcher and stir well. Hold off on adding ice to the pitcher as it will melt. Better to add the ice to your pre-chilled glasses and fill with punch. Garnish with orange slices and enjoy!