When you visit the Costa tropical you might be aware of the large offer of fresh fruit in local shops and markets. That is because the area has an ideal climate for many tropical fruits. Such a variety in fruit cultivation is relatively new to the region. In the old days La Herradura was a fisherman’s village and some of the locals worked in the cane industry in Almuñécar and Salobreña. Inland there were mainly almond trees that were collected and sold.
Things have changed and apart from the avocado, the main fruit cultivation for the region is chirimoyas, nispolas and mangos. Most people who have a plot of land also have the odd orange, lemon – which can grow into interesting shapes- , papaya and aguayava tree, as well as banana and platano trees and even pomegranate and lychee trees, usually for private consumption only.
Avocados are increasingly more popular for their fantastic properties, but did you know that there are quite a few different varieties grown locally. The most well-known are Bacon which is picked late September and October, Forte, Hass and Reed. Forte is usually picked in November followed by Hass, which picked season starts in November. The last variety to be picked is the Reed avocado. You can recognise the avocados by their shape. The Bacon has a smooth skin and remains green, also when ripened. The Forte has more of a pear shape and also remains green when ripe. Then there is the Hass, the most commercial of all avocados because of its size, its taste and because the skin comes off very easy. It skin is not smooth. Also distinctive about the Hass is that its colour becomes dark when it ripens. So you know when it is ripe when the skin is dark. The last to be picked is the Reed which is quite a round shaped avocado and also remains green when ripe.
There is also a large chirimoya cultivation. The chirimoya (in English called custard apple) is believed to come from Southern America and then transported to many places, including southern Spain. It has a light green colour and a dented skin. It can only be kept fresh for a limited time. When the fruit is still rock hard it isn’t ripe yet. When you can slightly push in the skin you can eat it and to most the best time to eat it. The riper (the softer the skin) the fruit, the sweeter and more custard like it becomes.
Another fruit cultivated in the hills of La Herradura and Almuñécar is the Nispola. This is a Spanish exotic fruit, although they came to the Spanish market in the 18th Century from the Far East. It tasted like a mixture of pear and peach, but can be somewhat sharp. It is often used to make marmalade and known a Japanese medlar pear. Its picking season starts in April.
Mangos are also cultivated and there is an increase in mango plantations in the area and the picking season starts in September.
A lesser known fruit and although some are cultivated commercially usually people have one or two trees on their land is the guava.
The guava is a fruit with a rather special taste. It is not overly sweet, but has a strong fruit smell. There are guavas with a strawberry taste and they are also pink inside and guayabas with a lemon taste, they are yellow-white inside. They are believed to be very healthy and packed with vitamin C.
You can also find platanos and bananas. Here in Spain the slightly bigger bananas are referred to as bananas and the more common banana as platano.
When in season you can also buy your papayas, pomegranates and fresh lychees in local vegetable shops and super markets. We should really count our blessings for such an abundance in healthy foods available locally.