Some people say that nothing tastes quite like an apple, but what does an apple taste like, exactly? What about other fruits that look like them? Do any of them taste similar too? Well, apple fans, let’s take a look at some fruits like apples so you can make some new, tasty friends.
1. Asian Pears
These are some of the first fruits that are like apples that come to mind. All apple and pear trees are related, but these “apple pears” have the same satisfying crunch that many favorite apple varieties do. Unlike apples, however, their skin is extremely thin and delicate. This is why you’ll find them wrapped in foam at the grocery store: the tiniest scratch can bruise the skin, or take it right off.
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If you’re an apple fan and you’re looking for other fruits that remind you of them, consider trying some loquats. Just like apples, they’re members of the rose (Rosaceae) family. They have an apple-like flavor, paired with an apricot-like texture. Just like standard apples, they’re often eaten raw on appetizer platters, with nuts and cheese-type foods. They can also be transformed into jams and other preserves.
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With the alternate moniker of “custard apple”, you can probably get a solid idea of what these South American fruits taste like. They have a naturally custard-like texture—even when raw—and have a flavor that seems like a cross between baked apple and banana.
Now, quinces are a bit more complicated. Yes, they do look a lot like apples, especially since they’re believed to be a weird, lumpy cross between apples and pears. While they do indeed taste very apple-ish, they’re absolutely inedible raw. You need to cook them first, which also helps to bring out their sweetness and baked apple flavor. See if you can get your hands on some quince jelly to see how you like it.
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These look like crosses between armadillos and artichokes, and their flesh tastes like creamy apple custard. Is your curiosity piqued yet? GOOD.
Sweetsops, also known as “sugar apples”, are native to the West Indies but have been naturalized in the hottest regions of the southeastern United States. You should be able to find these at a Caribbean grocery store. Alternatively, see if you can try them when and if you travel to that region to escape winter’s chill.
Salak fruits come from Salacca zalacca palm trees, which are native to Bali and Indonesia. The fruits look like big garlic bulbs covered in dark red dragon-scale skin, and both their taste and texture is very apple-like. These fruits can be eaten raw or cooked, and can also be transformed into a rather fabulous wine.
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Also known as “star apples”, caimito fruits can be found in Central America, Southeast Asia, and parts of Africa. While they’re on the lists of apple-ish fruits, that’s because of their flavor, rather than their texture. The flesh is soft rather than crisp, and exudes a sweet, milky liquid, lending to its common “milk fruit” moniker. In fact, in parts of Sierra Leone, they’re also referred to as the “breast milk fruit”.
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These Persian fruits are now naturalized all over Europe and North America, though they’ve fallen out of favor since the Victorian era. This is because most people don’t want to go through the hassle of letting them ferment a bit on the counter before eating them. As far as fruits that look and taste similar to apples, however, medlars are pretty spot on. In fact, they taste like either apple butter, or creamy roasted apples spiced with cinnamon and vanilla.
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Any list of fruits like apples, with similar appearance and flavor, should probably contain crabapples, shouldn’t it? These apple cousins look, smell, and taste a lot like their larger counterparts, only they’re a lot more tart and astringent. You can eat them raw, of course, but most people choose to turn them into jelly or even cider instead.
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Last on this list is a fruit that may have been the inspiration for Snow White’s poisoned apple. The manchineel fruit is native to the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America. It looks like a small green apple, apparently tastes exquisite, and will likely kill you if you eat it. The milky sap will blister and burn your skin if it so much as touches you. This fruit is so toxic that the explorer Ponce de Leon was killed by an arrow that had been dipped into it. Tasty, but deadly.
As you can see, there are a lot of fruits similar to apples out there for you to discover, if you haven’t gotten hold of them already. Most of them can be enjoyed the same way as standard apples, but you may have to do a bit of travelling in order to get them while they’re fresh and ripe.
Try them raw (except for the manchineel!), and then see how they fare when you substitute them for regular apples in some of your favorite recipes. You never know: you may discover that your favorite apple crumble tastes far more interesting when you toss some asian pears or loquats in there instead.
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