If you visit any of the major supermarkets in Costa Rica, you will be surprised to find a steaming cart with an unusual orangey-red simmering fruit in the fresh produce section. What kind of fruit is sold from a vat of boiling water?
Pejibaye is the fruit of the peach fruit palm tree and available readily across Central & part of South America. The fruits are harvested from large clusters and then boiled for several hours to cook them completely. Then the skins are peeled away and the large seed inside is removed. In the past, after eating the fruits, the skins would be saved and used for their oils as a natural sunscreen.
Pejibaye & Costa Rican Gastronomy
It is a favourite ingredient in hearty soups, and also enjoyed on its own with a dollop of sour cream or mayonnaise. We have one friend who likes to eat the pejibaye topped with something sweet to tame the deep savoury flavours, like a drizzle of organic honey or sweet maple syrup. I have found it prepared in different ways during the Foodie Tours in San Jose, like ceviche, churros, chips, puree, etc. So far my favorite recipe is the creamy soup with a hint of coconut milk!
It is a truly unique flavour, best-described as a cross between a baked potato and a chestnut. It is also one of the region’s super fruits, highly rich in minerals, vitamins and fibre. It’s basically a natural carb-loading food (so one for dieters to likely avoid) but a perfect snack for athletes or anyone needing a boost after a vigorous workout.
This savoury ingredient is also found in all sorts of new recipes including cakes and liquors. The fruit is particularly well-known and consumed in Tucurrique and in fact, every October this small village celebrates the National Pejibaye Festival with their home-town delicacy celebrated in a multitude of ways. There is also folkloric dancing, artisans, horseback riding and rodeos.
So if you’re visiting Costa Rica and need a boost after a busy bike ride or white water rafting, skip the avocado toast and try out this unique and healthy super-fruit. To learn more about Indigenous ingredients, like the pejibaye, finding their way onto Costa Rican menus, join one of our personalized Costa Rica Food Tours.
Buen provecho and pura vida