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Fruit seasons in Sri Lanka

When to taste your favourite tropical treats

by Tom Armstrong
Locals barter over fruit in a market in sri Lanka

Nothing conjures up memories of good times in midsummer climes like biting into a perfect piece of tropical fruit. But the pineapples, mangoes, coconuts and bananas you buy in UK supermarkets are lower quality than those you can get in countries like Sri Lanka. But when are the different fruit seasons in Sri Lanka?

As well as the favourites that we know and love, Sri Lanka grows a wealth of tropical treats that are seldom seen outside of Asia. Fruit seasons in Sri Lanka vary, though many are at their best in our spring/summer time. Have a chat with one of our travel team if you’d like to know more about travelling to Sri Lanka at that time.

Without further ado, here’s our run-down of the 5 must-try fruits in Sri Lanka, and when to eat them at their very peak for the freshest, tastiest experience.

Without further ado, here’s our run-down of the must-try fruits in Sri Lanka, and when to eat them at their very peak.

Mango trader in Sri Lanka with a smile on his face
How many Mangoes would you like?

Mango 

For those who love mangoes, Sri Lanka is a paradise. The island is home to various types of indigenous varieties including betti amba (small, green, sweet and sour); mee amba (small, sweet and very soft); and coconut mango with soft yellow flesh that tastes like honey – the list goes on!

How to Enjoy Mango in Sri Lanka 

With some varieties, you can have raw mango juice which tastes a little like a juneberry (amberella) juice. Raw mangoes can also be cooked in a curry and when they are close to ripening, can be made into achcharu – a popular and delicious roadside snack made with salt, chilli powder, vinegar and sometimes a splash of sugar. Then there is the famous mango chutney and of course, refreshing ice cream. Mango is an essential component of the Sri Lankan fruit salad and it’s easy to see why.

When is Mango Season in Sri Lanka?

From May-August/June is when most mangoes are at their peak.

Mango trader in Sri Lanka with an old bike
Could you carry all those?

Coconut

Known locally as the ‘tree of life’, there is no part of the coconut tree that Sri Lankans don’t use. Even if we skip the timber, the leaves, the cadjan, the cocopeat, toddy, vinegar, and the young leaves used for funeral decorations, there are still endless amounts that could be said about the actual coconut itself. All old traditional households and most modern households now have a coconut scraper, demonstrating just how essential coconuts are to life in Sri Lanka.

How to Enjoy Coconuts in Sri Lanka 

Most Sri Lankan curries are made with a coconut milk base. On special occasions, many Sri Lankans enjoy rice cooked in coconut milk in the morning. Coconut sambol is a delicious Sri Lankan staple typically enjoyed with hoppers, while you can also have coconut desserts like vatalappan with coconut milk, juggary and eggs. And of course, there are drinking coconuts that you can find widely available on the roadsides in Sri Lanka.

When is Coconut Season in Sri Lanka?

All year round.

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Jackfruits cut open in Sri Lanka
Yum!

Jackfruit

 

The national fruit of Sri Lanka, jackfruit seeds were first imported to the island in the early 1900s from Malaysia by a man called Arthur V. Dias. Knowing the value of the fruit and that it can be used to feed so many people, Dias was on a mission to plant a million trees to feed the Ceylonese people. As a result of this campaign, he is to date known as Kos Maama (“Jack uncle”) and he is the reason the fruit is so widely consumed.

Jackfruit is growing in popularity thanks to the explosion of the vegan food market as it is used as a meat alternative in many recipes. In a Guardian article about jackfruit in Kerala, it is written that “from a starting point of virtually zero, jackfruit exports, including to the US, Europe and Britain, grew to 500 tonnes last year, and could reach 800 tonnes by the end of 2019, according to Kerala’s agriculture minister, VS Sunil Kumar.”

 

How to Enjoy Jackfruit in Sri Lanka

There are several kinds of jackfruit that can be used in different ways. Kos can be cooked as a yellow oozy curry to be eaten with rice; polos (young jackfruit) are good for a spicy curry, best when slow cooked in a clay pot on an open hearth; and varaka and vela are sweeter and used in desserts.

When is Jackfruit Season in Sri Lanka?

March to September, varying on the region.

Roadside traders selling Rambutan in Sri Lanka
Ask your chauffeur guide to stop off and try Rambutan if you like

Rambutan

Rambutan, with its distinctive red, spiky look and lychee-like flavour, is a favourite among Sri Lankans. Thushni de Silva, who works in the Experience Travel Group office in Colombo, describes how, ‘last year when I fell ill and lost my voice it was during the Rambutan season, and you won’t believe the number of people who said, “Oh you poor thing, too many rambutan?”. That’s how common over-eating rambutan is!’.

In Sri Lanka, rambutan is mainly grown in Malwana, a town a couple of hours west of Colombo, where you’ll find huge orchards of the fruit. However, you can find rambutan at most Sri Lanka’s fruit markets.

How to Enjoy Rambutan in Sri Lanka 

With their sweet taste and unique texture, rambutans are generally enjoyed raw, though they can be used in desserts or to make chutneys.

When is Rambutan Season in Sri Lanka?

May-August.

Banana market trader in Sri Lanka
Slightly different presentation to what you get in our supermarkets...

Banana

According to Thushni de Silva, who works in ETG’s office in Colombo, “Bananas are a big part of our culture. A Sinhalese or Hindu New Year table is not complete without a big golden bunch of bananas. It is always considered a good gift too, though that is fading a little in the cities. 

In the Hindu Culture, banana trees are used a lot in decorations as well. Yellow varieties for weddings and ash plantains for funerals, I’m told.”

How to Enjoy Bananas in Sri Lanka

The best way to enjoy bananas, according to Thushni, is hot roasted with bread! – “A strange but delicious combination: hot roast paan (flat-ish bread) with butter and a banana. Bellissimo! We also do butter cake with bananas, and Sri Lankan sweetmeats with bananas. But oddly, Sri Lankans didn’t think of fritters…”

When is Banana Season in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka has 29 varieties of bananas – meaning there’s always at least one in season!

Pineapples stacked up in a market in Sri Lanka
How much for 10 please?

And the rest…

There are so many more. Pineapples and mangosteens are incredibly delicious in Sri Lanka, and you’ll also find that notoriously pungent Southeast Asian delicacy, durian (the marmite of fruits). There is just so much to choose from when looking at fruit seasons in Sri Lanka. The only way to experience them all is to head to the magical island yourself…

Travel Guide to Sri Lanka

CURIOUS TRAVELLER'S GUIDE TO SRI LANKA

Wondering when to visit Sri Lanka? Our Curious Traveller’s Guide to Sri Lanka will give you a more detailed breakdown of the best time of year to book a holiday, as well as tips on the best beaches, unmissable sites, and much more.

DOWNLOAD NOW

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