Fruit or Vegetable?


Is Karuka a Fruit or Vegetable?
Botanically, this is...
Culinarily, this is...

Karuka is a large drupe multiple fruit that grows in New Guinea. It is a popular food on the island, especially in the mountains, but it is rarely exported. The fruit is probably more well-known for its seeds, which are eaten like nuts. These are known separately as pandanus nuts.

However, the mesocarp of the karuka itself is very fleshly and also eaten. It has a mildly sweet taste and a firm texture, described as being like cheese curds:

Karuka is somewhat sweet and it is a botanical fruit. It is typically cooked before it is eaten, although this isn’t a necessity, so I believe it would more be considered a culinary fruit.

The other famous aspect of karuka is the superstition that surrounds harvesting it. Fears of evil spirits adversely affecting the fruit or attacking its harvesters led the Papuans to develop an coded form of their language to use when harvesting karuka. They switch out many common words with either new words or words that otherwise have different meanings, in an effort to prevent the spirits from listening in.