Rollinia - Gastro Obscura
Free iron-on Atlas Obscura badge when you preorder our new kids’ book. Shop now.

Fruits & Vegetables

Rollinia

Brazil's spiky yellow fruit has lemon meringue–flavored insides.

Rollinia deliciosa, as the name suggests, is incredibly tasty. Its flavor is often likened to lemon meringue pie, a description that’s accurate, but does not do this fruit justice. It is very sweet and creamy, and does have a refreshing, lemon-like flavor, but it also contains more nuanced tropical notes like banana, pineapple, and coconut.

While the fruit’s scientific name captures its wonderful flavor, its nickname, “snotfruit,” captures its less-enticing consistency. Off-putting as that may seem, nobody seems to mind rollinia’s soft, slimy texture. It’s very popular in its native Brazil, as well as throughout tropical areas of South America, Southern Mexico, and even Florida and Hawaii.

Diners typically slice into rollinia and enjoy the sweet pulp on its own. Brazilians, who call the fruit biriba, make a wine from its fermented juice as well as an extra-creamy drink by combining it with milk. There are also recipes for rollinia-based sauces, flans, ice creams, and souffles.

Despite its vibrant, prickly appearance, this fruit is fragile and fleeting. Its spikes will turn black as it ages and when it’s handled. To avoid damaging the rollinia, vendors often hang them from a cord. Harvesters will also try to extend the fruit’s one-week shelf life by picking them while they are still green. They are a bit tougher in this state and do ripen somewhat off the tree, but they don’t have as much flavor.

An ideal rollinia is vibrant yellow and yields to gentle pressure. Blackness on the tips of its spikes is okay, but if the rest of the fruit has dark spots, it should be avoided.

Need to Know

Rollinia is available in markets throughout South America as well as Florida and Hawaii in the United States.

Where to Try It
Contributed by
Jared Rydelek
Add your photos
Be the first to share a photo of this item with our community.