“Uganda is the food basket of East Africa”. Make that ‘fruit-basket’! Uganda boasts of an endless variety of fruits. There are mangoes, pineapples, avocado, bananas, watermelon, passion fruits, apples, papaya, oranges, and lemons; and perhaps the fruit unique only to Uganda- the jackfruit. Because of Uganda’s warm, yet less humid tropical climate, fertile soils and plenty rainfall, most of these fruits grow throughout the year.
In Uganda, fruits are available everywhere you go- roadside vendors are the most common and convenient fruit sellers, but also the local market stalls host an impressive and colorful collection. If you are a fruit-lover in Kampala, fresh-food markets like Nakasero, Kalerwe, and Nakawa are a must-visit. If you are travelling outside the city, there are still a variety of roadside fruit stalls along the highways. Most fruits like pineapples, mangoes and bananas are very cheap because they are produced from almost all over the country.
Let’s briefly look at some of the most common fruits in Uganda.
Mangoes; very common and sizes vary- ranging from the very small to very large, depending on the part of the country they are produced. They turn yellow and soft when ripe, but most people I’ve met prefer them when they are still a little green and hard. Can be eaten separately or used for fruit salad. The overly ripe ones are usually used for juice. Mangoes are cheapest during peak season.
Jackfruit; ‘Ffene’ as it is commonly known is a large irregular oval-like fruit, yellowish-green when ripe. It has sticky sap when cut open, but also the most delicious yellow fruits inside. The roundish fruits have seeds inside that need to be removed before they can be eaten. Jackfruit is mostly sold by roadside vendors pushing hand carts- they usually cut it into smaller pieces and sell them separately. Ready-to-eat packed fruits can also be found in some supermarkets.
Passion fruits; commonly used for juice. Passion fruit juice is the most common juice in restaurants/hotels and homes across Uganda. They come in two sizes [small and relatively big- orange-like size], and are either purple or yellow.
Pineapples: very sweet and juicy and common across the country. You will find pineapples in food markets, at roadside stalls, and on Kampala streets, you are likely to meet a vendor with a hand cart, selling pieces of peeled pineapple on a hot day.