Summer or Dry Season in Panama is the time of year when many of the trees and plants are in bloom and/or are fruiting. We are waiting patiently for our first fresh mango that will be available in the next month or so while we slowly consume the fruit from last year that we froze.
The Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with the farmers of Panama are experimenting with marketing various types of exotic fruits internationally. Some of the fruits being developed for export take advantage of the dry climate of our area. Right now some of those fruits are available in some of the supermarkets and road side stands. This is a bonus for us because normally we know that there are fruits are in season but we have no way of obtaining them if we don’t have a tree. Not only that the locally grown fruit or “fruta nacional” is cheaper than produce imported from other countries.
Yesterday while we popped in to the supermarket in Las Tablas there was a good choice of fruit to choose from. SU wanted some grapes and decided he was o.k. with the purple ones that had seeds in them because the green seedless ones were twice the cost per kilo. Still, for an imported fruit $3.25 per kilo was not a bad price for globe grapes. Upon examining the other fruits we decided that we’d try a few different things to get a taste for something different. There was a large basket of guava, but we’d had those before. We decided on Manzana del Agua, Guinda Taiwanesa, and Nispero, these fruits come from trees.
When we got home we washed up all three of them to try. The first was the Manaza del Agua. This fruit is also known as the Rose Apple or Water Apple. It looks very much like a cashew apple except that the color is more delicate with a light pink skin, it is smaller and the flesh is crisp. When we eat took a bite of this little fruit we were both pleasantly surprised. The smell of the fruit is very similar to a rose and the taste is slightly sweet and tart. It is pleasingly juicy and crunchy like an apple. We decided that it was delicious and we’d definitely spend the few cents they cost again.
The second fruit we tried was the Guinda Taiwanesa. This is one of the fruits that Panama is developing for export said to be hardier than the traditional varieties. Guinda translates into “cherry” in English but this fruit is not anything like a traditional cherry. It has green skin is similar in appearance to a crab apple. It has a stone inside similar to a cherry or plum and is also very tasty. It’s mild in flavor and the flesh is white and creamy. It’s another keeper.
The third fruit is the Nispero. The Nispero is also known as the Loquat, the outside skin is a coffee color and the inside should be orange. We’re thinking the few that we picked up are severely under ripe because when we bit into this one it was horrible. We’ve got wood chips from Nispero trees in our garden and that’s what the fruit reminded us of. The fruit should be edible, very aromatic, fleshy, with an intensely sweet taste though somewhat acid. This fruit just tasted like wood pulp. I’ve now got the three we have left sitting out with the hopes that they will ripen into something delicious.
We still have papaya growing on our trees and the bananas have gone dormant, waiting for Wet Season to shoot up again and produce fruit. Melon season is in full swing and during our travels yesterday I saw some gorgeous yellow Canary Melons, Watermelons of a couple different types and some Honeydew. The pineapples are also at the road side stands and they are large and plump looking. I have to take a trip back into town today and I think I’ll be shopping for some more fresh fruit in the campo.