Madeira is known for its delicious and exotic fruits. Thanks to the subtropical climate and fertile soil of the island, the fruits of Madeira are so many, that fill tables and regional markets with colour and flavour.
Fruit is used creatively, whether in typical Madeira dishes, in salads (avocado), ice cream (Surinam cherry or cactus figs), juices (mango and passion fruit), jams (guava, grape or loquat), roasted (chestnuts) and as a decorative element at Christmas.
Whatever the season, there are fruits for all tastes or preferences.
The custard apple (anona) is a favourite, from November to February. It has a sweet flavour and is extremely fragile to the touch. In addition to its multiple vitamins, it is recognized for its anticancer properties. You can taste it directly, after peeling or, cut in half, thanks to a spoon, but do not to eat the seeds. It is a relatively large fruit, so easy to share.
In autumn, you often see chestnuts roasting on the streets. There is a party in Curral das Freiras entirely dedicated to this fruit. Avocados are also usual at this time, and its buttery flavour makes it adaptable for numerous uses – salty or sweet. More common fruits like orange, mango and mandarin are also abundant in this season. Guava and quinces are mostly used in jams. Such as marmalade.
Madeira’s passion fruit deserves special attention, as you can find many varieties of Madeira markets, namely in the emblematic Farmers Market. Located in the old part of Funchal, it is the place of choice to get to know and taste most of the regional fruits. The most characteristic passion fruit in Madeira are the purple passion fruit, whose beautiful climbing flower decorates the terraces of the houses and slopes of Madeira. But there are many other varieties: banana passion fruit, passion fruit pineapple, lemon passion fruit etc. Savour these different flavours and do not forget to taste the famous passion fruit pudding! Taste the fruit, cut in half, using a spoon or use its pulp to make juices, jams or desserts.
Apples and pears are typical of this season, especially the famous Ponta do Pargo pears with its unique aroma. There is another fruit in Madeira that, due to its exotic appearance, arouses much curiosity among the visitors. It is called delicious fruit (Monstera Deliciosa). It is covered with hexagonal scales that fall as the fruit ripens. Some people compare its flavour to pineapple or banana. Speaking of exotic fruit, do you know about cactus figs? These fruits grow in cactus, but attention to harvest them. As they are full of thorns, you will need to use gloves or appropriate tools. Removed in the skin, they are often consumed cold or in the form of ice cream.
The cherries abound in Câmara de Lobos, more precisely in Jardim da Serra, and although they are smaller than usual, they reward with a wonderful taste. The Surinam cherries, although originating from South America are very abundant on the island, and can be ingested directly, attention, therefore, is needed as they contain a large seed. The Madeiran blueberries are known for their excellent antioxidant properties.
At the end of August, beginning of September, the wine grapes are harvested and celebrated with the traditional Wine Festival. Madeiran’s grapes are used mainly in the production of Madeira Wine, but can also be consumed directly
Porto Santo is another paradise regarding summer fruits, namely figs, grapes, watermelon and melon – they are so good that by themselves, they are worth a visit to the golden island!! ?
We finish with the most emblematic fruit of Madeira, the Madeiran banana, which as the regional adage says, “is small but good” and best of all, it can be savoured all year round!