Baobab fruits can be found hanging on the majestic baobab tree, also known as the “tree of life “in Africa. Its trunk is huge with a canopy that looks a lot like a tree's root system, which is why it is also nicknamed the “upside-down tree”.
In the western world, the fruit has gained notoriety for its health benefits. If you're interested in this ingredient you may want to know what baobab fruits taste like. We're about to take a close look at their flavor, texture, and uses in the kitchen.
What does a baobab fruit taste like?
A ripe baobab fruit has dry, white flesh that tastes like yogurt or tamarind. It has low levels of sweetness and a subtle tang, like a mild lemon. The texture of a baobab’s kernels is a unique chalky, dry consistency that may leave a fine flour-like powder coating in your mouth.
Each fruit is full of small, brown baobab seeds which are covered in the white pulp. Some varieties have a soft shell that can be bitten through while others will require a hammer or nutcracker to break. The kernel inside is edible and tastes like a Brazil nut with a buttery mouthfeel and slightly acidic flavor.
Baobab juice is a mild drink with much less flavor intensity and sweetness than apple, apricot, or pear juice. It also has a little sourness. People that enjoy water with a squeeze of lemon juice or coconut water, may enjoy this refreshing beverage.
Baobab fruit is often sold as dried fruit or powder in stores throughout the world. The powder has a pleasant zingy, tangy flavor that is excellent added to drinks or food. Like the fresh fruit, it is slightly sweet with a subtle lemony flavor.
Tip: if you ever try a fresh baobab then we recommend eating the nuts separately from the pulp. While they are both enjoyable eaten on their own, when the two are paired together the flavor combination is awkward.
How to eat
The fruit is egg-shaped and has a yellowy-brown outer shell that is woody and appears to be covered in a velvety coating of tiny hairs. It is a lot thinner than a coconut shell and can be broken relatively easily without the need for tools.
Use your hands to break apart the shell or gently tap it on a rock. Once broken, pull off pieces of the white flesh and pop it in your mouth. Suck and chew the tasty white section then spit out the pip.
Culinary uses for baobab
- Eat the fresh fruit pulp on its own for a light snack.
- Grind the beans and use them as a coffee substitute.
- Combine the powder into smoothies, juices, lemonade, or tea to make an antioxidant-packed beverage.
- Roast the seeds in olive oil and salt for a healthy snack.
- The leaves can also be cooked like a vegetable or turned into a relish.
Whether you eat fresh baobab, the dried fruit, or powder, they're all packed with nutrients and are considered a superfruit. One tablespoon of powder contains only 10 calories and offers 136mg Vitamin C. It is also high in antioxidants, fiber, and potassium.
Where can I find baobabs?
Outside of countries where baobab is commonly grown, your best option is to visit a local health food store or grocery store. Try the section where acai berry and goji berry powder is shelved. If you have no luck then search online. Increasingly, brands are using baobab in their products, whether it's a powder, fruit chew, or some similar type of snack.
8 fast facts about baobab fruit
- The tree's scientific name is Adansonia digitata and it is a part of the Malvaceae family.
- Baobab fruit is known as "dead rat hanging" in Australia. Other common names include lemonade tree, cream of tartar fruit, and monkey bread.
- The fruit shell is good for making cups and bowls.
- To process the pulp, the fruit is shaken from the tree and cracked open. The inner flesh can easily be processed into a powder thanks to its low moisture content.
- Some people think that baobab is like eating a mouthful of bread; this is how it gets its nickname "monkey bread".
- The trees are known to live for thousands of years and can tolerate extreme droughts thanks to their ability to store water in the trunk.
- Mainland Africa is home to the largest number of baobab trees. They are also found in Madagascar and Australia.
Baobab is a unique fruit due to its strange dry, white flesh that is almost chalky. Its flavor isn't overwhelming, instead offering a subtle tangy flavor with a little sweetness. It is doubtful that we’d buy this fresh fruit or powder purely for its flavor. Where this ingredient excels is its nutritional benefits. It is excellent for adding to baked goods and drinks for a vitamin C boost without dialing up the sugar content.
Are you considering eating the fresh or dried fruit, or are you looking at buying the powder? Please let us know in the comments below.