Fruit Lovers will love Uganda – Africa’s Fruit Basket
Bananas of all kinds, Pineapple –that is simply the Best, Passion Fruit, Mangoes, Watermelons, Jackfruit, Papayas, Citrus Fruits and even Apples – Uganda is Africa’s Fruit Basket.
Uganda – the fertile Pearl of Africa with its pleasant climate, fertile soil, plentiful rain is a place where fruit lovers will find paradise with filled tropical fruit that will delight your senses. It is no wonder that Winston Churchill wrote in his 1908 book “My African Journey”Uganda is from end to end one beautiful garden where the staple food of the people grows almost without labor. Does it not sound like paradise on earth? It is the Pearl of Africa.” When you visit this paradise, this Pearl of Africa and eat its tasty fruit you will certainly agree with Winston Churchill and his description of Uganda.
Fruit is plentiful in Uganda, wherever you go there are fruit stands on the side of the road, pineapple vendors with wheelbarrows in town, women carrying baskets containing small eating bananas for sale and the town markets that are found most everywhere including the famous Nakasero Market where you will simply be astounded by the fruit on display – truly a fruit lovers paradise – Uganda is “Africa’s Fruit Basket.”
- Bananas: Uganda Africa’s Banana Republic and that is a compliment since Uganda grows more Bananas in Africa than any other nation. Bananas are staple food of many Ugandan and locally it is called Matooke – plantain type Banana. Eating Bananas – there are the small and sweet ones called Menvu here and the larger ones as you would find in the West are called Ndiizi . Eating Bananas are found everywhere and are eaten any time of the day as a fruit snack. They are also used in making Ugandan pancakes called Kabalagala. For a special treat there are the sweet cooking bananas called Gonja that are often roasted over charcoal and sold by vendors in town – some people fry them coating the Gonja Bananas with a batter – I like to use Gonja Bananas in stir-fry dishes with chicken and vegetables slicing the Gonja Bananas – something that always surprises my Ugandan friends.
- Pineapples: Uganda simply has the best pineapple, sweeter, juicy and the lower in acidity than pineapple found elsewhere and they are inexpensive. You will often have some pineapple at hotel restaurants, lodges, or tented camps for breakfast in Uganda or at other meal times. The pineapple in Uganda is so good that you can even eat the center of it. They are found everywhere year around but there are peak seasons in which the best tasting pineapple can be had. Enjoy some pineapple in Uganda – you will be most amazed and agree with me that Ugandan Pineapple is simply the best and a cut above the rest.
- Mangoes: You will see lots of Mango Trees in Uganda, I have a huge one across the street and in season partake of the mangoes – only one thing about Mangoes in Uganda is that Ugandans eat them while still green – whereas most westerners like them a bit more ripe – do not despair you can pick them where you are buying them and get lots of them at a very low price – full of color and bursting with flavor. Mangoes are eaten by many Ugandans without cutting them like we would eat an apple. You can also get mango juice here, mango ice-cream or sorbet – some restaurants of better quality even have fruit salads that contain mangoes among other thing. I make mango muffin, mango pancakes and mango French Toast.
- Passion Fruits: Passion Fruit Trees are found all over the country – if you are buying some, look for the more purple colored type which grows in the higher altitude areas such as in the Kasese districts in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, some even call them Kasese. You can also find yellow passion fruits and no matter which one you pick– both make great fruit juice which is often served in hotels, restaurants – just make sure and ask if they used bottled or boiled water rather than tap water. You can also buy Passion Fruit Juice in supermarkets most everywhere in the country.
- Citrus Fruits: You can find Oranges, Tangerines and Lemons in Uganda. Here they both grow in the wild and on farms. They can be bought in fruit and vegetable markets all year long. There is one thing that you will find about most of the citrus fruit here – they will look different – Oranges are mostly green and so are Tangerines- Lemons are also more on the green side and have what looks like warts on them – all of them taste fine and for those that do not want to partake in a green orange, tangerine or lemon – citrus fruits with the colors you are used to are available most everywhere in Supermarkets. The Oranges and Tangerines here are also often used to make orange juice at hotels and restaurants in Uganda. The actual flavor of the citrus fruits here is quite tasty thought they look from what you are used to. Be a bit daring and try something that you might not be used to, especially the lemons with wart like bumps.
- Watermelon:Watermelons are found here all year-long and most Watermelons are round and smaller in size in most cases. Seedless watermelons do not exist here and if they do they are not readily seen in most markets. The flavor is great and it pays to do what many do here – have the seller of the watermelons take a knife and cut a small triangle out so that you can see that it is a quality, ripe watermelon that most likely you will enjoy. As with most fruit here the price is most reasonable and you could try your bargaining skills when buying any fruit including watermelons. I find the watermelons very tasty in Uganda thanks to its rich soil and sunshine.
- .Papayas: Papayas grow most everywhere in Uganda, you can see them in many gardens, even at hotels, lodges you will find Papaya growing – they ripen to become yellowish and soft. They are often served at breakfast or for a dessert at lunch or dinner or are a part of fruit platter that you have ordered at a restaurant here in Uganda. Not only is Papaya tasty but the tall trees are nice decoration in gardens with their tropical look perfectly fitting into equatorial Uganda. You might find Papayas here quite a bit larger than the ones you are used to but they are bursting with flavor. You will like the papaya here, add some pineapple and get even a more of flavorful treat.
- Jackfruit: Most visitors to Uganda are unfamiliar with the watermelon sized Jackfruit that grows on trees here in Uganda and once again those trees are found near homes, hotels, lodges. Ugandans enjoy Jackfruit a lot and see it as a treat. Westerners on the other hand either love it or dislike it. More like it – it is different, a bit sticky and the list of fruit that those who partake of it compare it to is endless. I think it has a flavor and texture that simply unique to Jackfruit and there is no real comparison. You simply have to try it – it is not often available in restaurants here, however many Ugandans consume it at home and hopefully during your time here you have the opportunity to taste some Jackfruit in Uganda. Don’t miss the chance to taste the unique fruit found here in the Pearl of Africa.
You can now see why Uganda is the Tropical Fruit Basket of Africa. Besides tropical fruit that is grown here – apples are now also being produced here in south-western Uganda producing two crops per year in the Kabale area, also a strain of tropical apples has been imported and is being grown in the Wakiso District near Kampala. Valencia Oranges are now being grown in the Northern area of Uganda and even grapes in the Mbarara area of Uganda and in Bushenyi and Nebbi district. Uganda is certainly a fruit- basket- enjoy Uganda…from Kampala…jon
“If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa.” John Hemingway – African Journeys