I was delighted to find my favourite fruit in the wild this week. Water apples (also known as bell fruit) are familiar to me from my childhood in West Africa where I called them “pommes d’eau.”
In the hillside of green, a tree with bright red fruit captures my eye.
As I approach the tree, I see that it’s not one tree, but two — laden with ripe water apples.
The flowers and fruit of the water apple can form on almost any point of the tree, including on the main trunks.
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Generally, ripe water apples are dark red in colour. All of the ones off these trees are a bit pale, and they don’t taste as flavourful as a result.
When biting into a water apple, the consistency of the flesh is similar to that of a crunchy watermelon, and it’s quite juicy. Unripe fruit taste very astringent.
Each fruit has a small core, containing little seeds surrounded by taste-less flesh.
I haven’t enjoyed water apples since I visited Hong Kong, so it was a treat to have them again. Although these water apples weren’t the sweetest variety, they were still a lovely reminder. Maybe the next lot I come across will be more delicious.
Comments on Water apples in Australia — like tiny watermelons in the trees!
Never heard of them before. The way you describe their taste (particularly the way they are astringent when unripe) they sound more like persimmons than apples.
I’ve foraged these in our local botanical garden. I thought they tasted a bit soapy, so maybe they were underripe.
I first heard them called rose apples, in Thailand. I’ve since come across them with a couple of other names (though I can’t remember what).
To me, they taste a lot like lilly pillies 🙂
Ren, they are in the same family as lilly pillies, so you’re right on the mark!
I had wax apples in Taiwan and have been so upset that I haven’t yet found them in the US. I’m still looking 4 years later!! They were so yummy!
Does anyone know where I could find them in Southeast US?
Will they grow in the southern US?
If you’re a subtropical climate, then they should. You may need to order a plant from a nursery that specialises in tropical fruit.
I purchased some of these at my local market, they are also know as ‘Waxy Jambu’.
I’m from Australia & i’ve never heard of these! I love trying new unusual fruits, i hope i come accross these one day.
You can find water apples in tropical states of Australia. I live in Darwin and there are plenty at local markets. I have a question though for anybody in the know,. I have just acquired a lovely water apple tree in a pot ready to plant out the lady said. However, I want to keep it in a pot. I don’t really have room for it in the garden. How big a pot would I need and how to look after it please if anybody can help? Cheers Carol
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