Some fruits are so sugary they can almost be too sweet to eat, but fruits that are bittersweet tend to have complex, nuanced flavors that balance each other well. Hopefully this bittersweet fruit list will help you discover some new flavors to add to your shopping list!
1. Bittersweet Oranges
While most oranges and other orange-colored citrus fruits are quite sweet, these bittersweet fruits certainly live up to their name. They’re a mutated orange variety that originally came from Paraguay, but are now cultivated extensively in Orlando, Florida.
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Everybody’s favorite Thanksgiving berry is almost too sour to eat raw. Once exposed to freezing temperatures, however, their sourness turns a bit sweeter and is significantly more edible. Still, you probably want to transform these into sauce if you really want to enjoy them without recoiling.
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Also called “Cape gooseberries”, these bright orange tomatillo relatives start out tangy-sour when you bite them. After a few seconds, their sweetness will swirl around your tongue instead. Pair these with really sugary desserts to balance out the flavors.
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Although some domesticated varieties can be incredibly sweet, the vast majority of wild blackberries have quite a bitter/sour note to them. They have acidic, well-balanced flavors, and can easily be transformed into pies, jams, and other preserves with your sweetener of choice.
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Pomegranates’ bittersweet kick is what makes these stunning fruits so exceptional. They are neither sweet nor sour, but both… and each crystalline, gem-like segment is a burst of juice waiting to be crunched on. Note: if you don’t eat the white pip at the center of each segment, you’ll get more sweetness than sour.
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When it comes to grapefruits, the darker the inner flesh, the sweeter it’ll be. This is why the pale yellow and pink grapefruits are sour, while ruby grapefruits are bittersweet instead.
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7. Sour Cherries
Unlike the deep red Bing cherries most people know and love, sour cherries are sort of pinkish yellow. They’re often grown in Mediterranean gardens, and have a bitter flavor that eventually melds into a kind of sweetness. Kind of. Most people use them for baking rather than fresh eating, unless they like their faces to pucker up.
8. Key Limes
While regular limes are most definitely sour, key limes are sweeter and less acidic. In fact, their bittersweet flavor is what makes them so ideal in pies, tarts, and other desserts. You don’t need to dump as much sugar into their juice to render it palatable, unlike other sour citrus like standard limes and lemons.
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8. Green Grapes
Unlike their purple, red, and black cousins, green grapes have a tartness that can make your jaws clench just thinking about them. Just like all grapes, however, these beautiful gems sweeten after they’ve been frozen. If you find that your grapes are a little too sour for your tastes, toss them in the freezer for 48 hours and you’ll find that they’re significantly sweeter.
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10. Cherry Tomatoes
Many cherry tomatoes can be both sweet and sour, depending on the variety as well as their growing conditions. For example, tomatoes that haven’t had enough calcium added to the soil can be quite sour. Considering that the poisonous bittersweet nightshade plant (Solanum dulcamara) is related to tomatoes, this sweet-sour flavor shouldn’t be a huge surprise!
11. Granny Smith Apples
These luscious green apples are some of the tastiest bittersweet fruits around. They have a satisfying crunch, and their tartness also gives way to a sweet aftertaste after a few seconds. Here’s a tip: sprinkle a bit of salt onto Granny Smith slices to enhance their natural sweetness. It sounds weird, but it works!
Just like tomatoes, blueberries can produce bitter fruits if they’re not grown in the right conditions. All berry plants thrive best in slightly acidic soil, so if you’re growing blueberries and you find them too bittersweet, you’ll need to amend the soil to be more acidic. In the meantime, transform those sour berries into pies, or add them into banana or mango smoothies to counterbalance the bitterness.
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These fruits strike a perfect balance between bitter and sweet. While other fruits can be far too sugary, raspberries have just the right amount of tartness to keep your palate happy.
If you like flavors like peach and lychee, you’ll love mangosteens. They’re sweeter than they are bitter, but have a lovely tart bite that stops them from being too cloying.
These amazing cacti fruits taste quite a bit like kiwi, and are spectacular in smoothie bowls. Use a small melon baller to scoop out the flesh and adorn banana-mango smoothie bases with the speckled white globes of tart deliciousness.
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Also known as carambolas, starfruits taste like a three-way cross between green apples, pears, and oranges. They have a wonderful sweet-and-sour flavor that’s lovely in juices and desserts, and many people use the star-shaped slices as garnishes. You can also slice them very thinly to use on upside-down cakes or on top of tarts.
The stunning fruits of the passionflower plant can be tart and sweet at turns, depending on how ripe they are when you pick them. Once their skins look pruny, they’ll be as sweet as they can get. The pips’ outer flesh are quite sugary, but the pulp gets more sour as you get closer to each seed.
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These big citrus fruits’ bittersweet flavor is a testament to the amount of vitamin C packed into each one. It’ll take you a while to gnaw your way through an entire pomelo, but if you do, you’ll be bouncing around with all the happy-making vitamins and minerals contained within it.
Although they look like teensy oranges, kumquats are significantly more tart than your standard orange will ever be. They’re really flavorful, but can also make your jaw ache a bit if you eat too many all in one go.
Tamarinds’ bittersweet flavor is exactly why it’s such a popular ingredient in various sauces around the world. You may have tasted it in Worcestershire sauce or your favorite curry, and it adds a complex nuance to just about any recipe it’s added to.
How many of these bittersweet fruits were already familiar to you? In contrast, how many are completely new to you? There are some extraordinary flavors to discover out there, and if you take a trip to a different market every week, you’ll likely find all kinds of produce that you’ve never tried before. Talk to the shopkeepers and get their advice on which to try, and you’re certain to discover some real treasures.