A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited by my host mom to the family cabins in Esmeraldas, almost to the Colombian border, on the beach for yet another 3-day weekend. I thought the Sierra region (the Andes Mountains, where I live) had a diverse, exotic selection of fruit but when we arrived at the cabins, there were 3 trees on the property alone that I had never seen before. One of them is the noni. I knew it was exotic because even my host mom didn’t know what to do with it. After walking around Atacames and asking all the ladies at the numerous juice and smoothie stands how to prepare the juice, we finally decided to bring a few back to the Sierra and do some good ol’ googling.
Appearance: To me, it looks like a giant worm, like the ones they eat in the Amazon here. It’s about the size of a grapefruit but longer and skinner. Inside, it looks similar to a guanábana or chirimoya with large black seeds surrounded by the white fruit.
Preparation: It took some internet sleuthing but basically you cut the fruit open and blend it with other citrus fruits like passion fruit, oranges, or kiwi. Blend it on a low setting so as not to break the black seeds (this gives it a really funky taste) and then strain into a pitcher.
Taste: It has a very mild taste, almost unnoticeable. My host mom mixed it with kiwi and that’s how the juice ended up tasting. I assume that it takes on the flavor of the fruit it’s mixed with. (The internet said that most people drink the juice for the health benefits, which are varied and extensive, and not for the taste.)
Cost: Luckily, our’s were free thanks to a giant tree on the property but I found a 32 oz. bottle of the juice online for $30. I’d say we got a pretty good deal.
If you find yourself in southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, or apparently the coast of Ecuador, or Colombia (I’m assuming), look for a noni tree, whip up some juice, and take advantage of all the health benefits it has to offer.Here’s a look at the other 2 trees on the property. Even the Ecuadorians weren’t sure what they were. The red ones had a coconut-like shell that we had to crack with a rock. The fruit inside was very small and kind of woody in texture. The second one is supposedly a type of almond, at least that’s what they kept telling me but it doesn’t look like any almost I’ve ever seen. Drop me a comment if you recognize them!