While the fruit in the photo to the right may look like Granny Smith apples, locally they are called ju plums. You can’t tell from the photo but they are only about the diameter of a quarter, or about 1″ to 2″ across. The correct name is Ziziphus mauritiana and they are known by various other names throughout the Caribbean. If you are fortunate enough to be visiting when they are in season (January and June) and can find some to try, you’ll be in for a treat. They are best eaten with the skin green and when bitten into have the same texture as biting into a firm apple, complete with the crunch. It’s hard not to like them and you’d probably eat a dozen of them before you stopped. You won’t find them in stores and your best chance to find them will probably be at the farmers market located near to the airport in George Town.
Another popular summer fruit in the Cayman Islands is the. Like the ju plum, you usually won’t find it in any stores. The fruit has a tough, green, shell-like skin, and is found in large bunches similar to grapes; it is about ¾” in diameter. The flesh inside is a pale orange colour and when ripe is semi-sweet. The unripened fruit is very tart and is not usually eaten that way. The flesh has the texture of refrigerated jelly and falls away from the pit/seed easily when being eaten. It is typically eaten by taking a single fruit from the bunch and biting it in the middle to split the shell, which is then easily removed. The remaining shell is then squeezed and the pit with the flesh pops out easily. It only takes a few tries to become an expect at removing the flesh using your teeth, although young children should be closely supervised as the fruit is very slippery once the shell is completely removed.
In addition to the ju plum and guinep, the Cayman Islands is home to many other delicious tropical fruits, some of which you will not have heard of. They include mangoes of all types, naseberry, sweet sop, sour sop, custard apple, red plum, star apple, Suriname cherry, star fruit, pomegranate, chella mella, tamarind and others. You are encouraged to seek out and try some of these local fruit as tasting them will surely add to your vacation experience.
Whichever fruit you may prefer, in the Cayman Islands the mango is king. Everyone has their favourite variety, but there are a few that are most popular including Julie, Carrie, East Indian, Nam Doc Mai and Valencia Pride. You’ll be able to enjoy mangoes from May thru September, although some trees will bear fruit more than once per year and you may find them out-of-season. Mango jam is also a delicious way to enjoy the fruit and you’ll find it available for purchase in some supermarkets as well as at the farmers market. Mango jam is best eaten spread on crackers or toast, or on a plain slice of bread.