If you are lucky enough to be able to travel to South Korea, make sure you sample the fruit! Fruits from Korea are highly valued, which is evident by their high cost despite the plentiful supply!
Some of the fruit in Korea can be found in supermarkets around the world: however, it’s worth hunting them down when you visit South Korea so you can embrace the culture and eat as the locals do.
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What Makes Korean Fruits So Unique
Fruits grown in Korea are unique because of their high quality and taste. While some popular fruits like strawberries, peaches, and apples can be found across the world, many Korean fruits are grown almost exclusively domestically. The unique climate and difficulty growing means that many fruits from Korea are expensive in overseas markets.
Many fruits grown in Korea are hybrids, meaning that they’ve been cultivated by cross-breeding two existing varieties of fruit. This gives them a unique flavor and texture, and can also contribute to the high price in premium supermarkets. If you want to get your fruits in Korea cheaper, visit one of the many large fresh produce markets that can be found in every city and town.
While most fruits have an English translation, it’s worth learning the Korean fruit names during your visit. Not only does it make buying them more fun, but you can also learn some of the history and cultural significance behind some of these delicious treats.
Want to learn more about Korean food and travel to Korea? Check out these posts:
The Most Delicious Korean Fruits You Should Try
Here are our recommendations for the best Korean Fruits you should eat whilst in South Korea. These can be found at markets and stalls around Korea, or if you’re in a rush, at the airport.
Of all the fruits grown in Korea on this list that you must try, Kyoho grapes have got to be it! Kyoho budo (the Korean fruit name, literally meaning ‘giant mountain grapes’) are a hybrid grape that is incredibly popular in Korea and East Asia. They are black-purple in appearance and have a sweet delicious taste with just enough acidity to balance them out. Be careful when eating them, as the seeds are very bitter and not usually consumed.
Kyoho grapes are used in everything from jellies and jams to Korean desserts and celebration drinks.
Similar in appearance to tomatoes to anyone not paying attention, the persimmon is grown in the fall months and is a local favorite fruit in Korea. Known for their sweet, honey-like taste when ripe, persimmons can be found in all parts of Korea and many regions of South-East Asia.
The best way to eat persimmon is to cut the fresh fruit in half and scoop out the insides with a spoon. These fruits from Korea are a local favorite, and readily available at supermarkets and fresh fruit markets during the season.
If you don’t feel like eating your persimmon fresh, you could always try Sujeonggwa. This traditional Korean punch is made by simmering ginger, cinnamon, and dried persimmon, and is enjoyed all year round.
If there’s one fruit in Korea that you’ve already heard of, it’s this one. The Fuji apple is another hybrid fruit on this list, cultivated in the 1930s by Japanese growers and brought to the market in 1962.
It is a cross between two American varieties of apple Red Delicious and a Rawls Jannet and is named for the Japanese town where it was created. Culturally, apples in Korea are connected to holidays and celebrations, which is why they are so expensive.
To enjoy a Fuji apple the Korean way, try breaking it in half with your hands before eating – it’s not as hard as it sounds!
You might have seen Asian pears on your supermarket shelves at home; however, nothing beats the home-grown option when you’re visiting Korea.
Known as ‘bae’ in Korea, the Asian pear has a lot of different names, including Japanese pear, Chinese pear, and Korean pear. This crunchy, grainy fruit from Korea is a symbol of spring and is usually enjoyed fresh or in bulgogi.
Perfect, blemish-free Asian pears are highly sought-after fruit in Korea, as they can be given as gifts. They’re usually cushioned by a protective foam mesh to stop bruises and damage that might lower their value and make them unappealing to shoppers.
While the perfect specimen might be expensive, Asian pears are usually very reasonably priced if you’re not worried about how your fruit looks.
One of Korea’s best-kept secrets is that it has the perfect climate for growing oriental melons. This means that the melons coming out of this country are delicious and plentiful! The Korean fruit names for this delicacy are numerous, but the most common term is chamoe. Sweet and refreshing, these yellow and white-striped fruits have a taste similar to a cross between a honeydew melon and a cucumber. Sounds strange, but is highly tasty!
Unlike a lot of fruits grown in Korea, the oriental melon is extremely cheap. These Korean fruits can be enjoyed year-round, but are best eaten when they’re chilled and fresh.
A cross between a Kiyomi tangor and a Ponkan mandarin orange, the first Dekopon was developed in Japan in 1972 and has now spread across the world. They’re easily recognizable from the distinctive bump on one end and taste similar to a tart mandarin, and one of the most well-known fruits from Korea on this list.
As well as being absolutely delicious, these hybrid citrus fruits contain 100 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C and are chock-full of vitamin A and fiber. The perfect add-on to any Korean breakfast.
The yuzu is a winter citrus fruit that has a distinctive sour taste similar to grapefruit. The best part about yuzu? It’s completely edible, from the rind to the seeds.
Many Korean fruit names are similar to the English pronunciation: yuzu is known locally as yuja. You’ll find yuzu in the ingredients list in a lot of traditional Korean food, as its acidity will cut through fatty meat and rich tastes. Because of its distinctive flavor profile, yuzu has become increasingly popular with cocktail bars for drinks like yuzu sours.
In Korea, yuzu isn’t usually eaten on its own, but is used for a traditional drink called ‘yuja tea’. Unlike a lot of other Korean fruits on this list, yuzu isn’t saved for special occasions and is enjoyed year-round.
“Strawberries? You can buy these at home!”
I know that these might not seem like a unique or special fruit, but in Korea, they are used as gifts. It’s very common for couples to exchange Korean strawberries (Korean fruit name: ttalgi) as gifts on Valentine’s Day and other special occasions; they’re seen as the ‘fruit of love’, which makes them a must-try when you visit South Korea.
Korean berries are a little different from the ones you’ll find on your supermarket shelf at home. They tend to be smaller and sweeter, and also a lot more expensive!
Buy these special Korean berries for your friend, your partner or yourself to participate in a Korean tradition while you’re visiting.
This one should be familiar to you! The dragon fruit’s distinctive bright pink exterior and spotted inside make it easily recognizable around the world. Named for its spiky shell and vibrant color, the dragon fruit (Korean fruit name: yong-gwa) comes in two main varieties: white and red. The red has a richer and sweeter taste than its white cousin and is usually more expensive.
These unique fruits are found all over Asia and are among one of the most common fruits grown in Korea. The light, crunchy texture makes this a favorite for salads, desserts, and jellies, as well as cut into chunks and eaten fresh.
If you need another reason to visit, Korean fruits should be on the list! When you’re in South Korea, don’t miss the incredible fruit markets and stalls selling home-grown Korean fruits; some of these delicious offerings can only be found in Korea, and are best enjoyed with friends in their homeland.