Wood Apple: A Fantastic Fruit with a Funky Smell

By Mark Wiens 64 Comments

Woodapple

Very few fruits are so bizarre and delicious as a Wood Apple.

I had never even heard of a woodapple, nor tasted one, until I traveled to Sri Lanka.

But as soon as I arrived in Colombo, they were everywhere – a fruit that seemed to be as common as oranges in another country.

On the outside they look kind of like moldy coconuts.

It was their weird outer appearance and their strange (some may think foul) smell that really aroused my culinary curiosity, and I was intrigued.

As a lover of all things, shapes, sizes and smells of food, it wasn’t long before I purchased a few woodapples out of pure curiosity and had my first bite of goodness…!

Watch this quick VIDEO about eating woodapples!

(Can you see the video alright? If not, you can click here to watch it on Youtube)

What does a Wood Apple Smell Like?

Woodapple fruit kind of smells like a combination of blue cheese and raisins… really!

Similar to the most amazing fruit in the world, a woodapple’s pungency can overtake an entire room or spread through an entire market. Though some may think the smell is unfavorable, to be honest I really don’t think the smell is bad – I like it!

The stronger the scent normally means that the fruit is ripe and ready to be opened and devoured.

Limonia
Wood Apple (Limonia Fruit)

What does a Wood Apple Taste Like?

In Sri Lanka, many people eat woodapples blended up as juice or in a fruit shake. I drank my first delicious fruit shake at the fantastic Hotel Rolex restaurant serving northern Sri Lankan food in Jaffna.

Many add sugar to sweeten up their woodapple and make it taste a little less acidic.

My favorite method is to just grab a woodapple, crack open its hard outer shell and just start eating the meat with a spoon!

I’m going to be honest, as soon as you open it, the fruit does look a little like baby poop, but don’t let that fool you – it tastes really good!

It’s quite similar to sweet tamarind fruit, a smooth pudding like sugary and acidic substance. Image taking a tub of raisins and blending them up with water until they turn into a fruit jam like paste. Ferment the concoction for a few days and you’ve got a taste  that would probably resemble the fruit of a woodapple.

The crazy part in my opinion is the texture.

The raisin like cream is soft and jam like, but within the softness are hosts of other consistencies and textures that range from crunchy seeds to sticks and fruity bristles.

A spoonful of pure woodapple fruit is a great thing!

Woodapples in Sri Lanka
Woodapple Fruit

How to Cut Open a Wood Apple:

Just like opening a coconut, it can be a challenge to open a wood apple.

The prettiest way, is to hit it around the belly of the fruit with the back of a knife until it neatly splits open. You can watch the woodapple video (or watch it right above).

Alternatively, if you are somewhere and you don’t have a knife, just slam it on the floor or use a rock to smash it open.

So although the woodapple fruit is a little strange indeed and has a pretty funky smell, I think it tastes awesome and it’s healthy too!

If you ever get a chance to eat a woodapple, don’t miss out (just remember, a woodapple is quite a bowel loosener)!

Have you ever sampled or smelled a wood apple?



64 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Lakshmi Gopal

    9 months ago

    Yeah, we call this ‘bel’ in India. It cools you down during the hot summers, and is a great digestive.

  • Chandra

    11 months ago

    I like your presentation. Very informative. Thanks buddy. Chandra

  • Anjie

    1 year ago

    Agreed, around here wood apple is really common like oranges. In fact I hardly ever think any Sri Lankan considers the smell of wood apple to be unpleasant.
    Wood apple grows in dry weather, not so dry, meaning green environment but warm and sunny
    Also it might have been named “Wood” apple due to its shell, if you hit someone with a wood apple, you can do a considerable amount of harm
    I almost forgot to mention, I’m from Sri Lanka

  • suwi

    1 year ago

    Wood apple is my favourit fruit never forget it yummy

  • Beth

    1 year ago

    I just finished a lunch that included a delicious woodapple chutney I made. A friend from southern India dehydrated the pulp and brought it to the US. I don’t know if it was actually legal, but I’ve noticed that Customs/USDA seems to let anything and everything in from India without asking questions. I would think that the right person could start up a profitable export/import business with dehydrated woodapple, so long as s/he adheres to all USDA/FDA regulations. I was told that the rehydrated woodapple is hardly distinguishable from fresh pulp. Other sources I found in the states all have sugar added, which destroys the flavor in my opinion.

    • Mark Wiens

      1 year ago

      Hey Beth, very cool to hear this, thanks for sharing. That’s a good idea. Have you ever seen them available fresh in the US before?

  • prativa bhatta

    1 year ago

    OMG…..i love this fruit . I haven’t had it in 13 yrs i want one.

  • Toan Dang

    2 years ago

    Hey Mark. In Vietnam, the Wood Apple called “Quách”. It only grows up in South Vietnam. It is really a delicious fruit. This fruit is not popular even in my country, so If you don’t mind, I would like to borrow your site to find someone who are interesting in advertise this fruit to other country by cooperating with to sell. Pls feel free contact me via [email protected]. Thank you so much!

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hi Toan, good to hear from you. Yah I wish it was more popular in Thailand too – I can only get it sometimes. Sounds good.

  • Iin Indartiningsih

    2 years ago

    in my hometown, woodapple called buah kawis, we make it to syroup kawista like cola “java cola”

  • Wimalika Fernando

    2 years ago

    Hey Mark!

    Im from Sri Lanka. As a Sri Lankan I am much greatful to you for sharing the information about those Sri Lankan food around the world . As this is about Wood Apple we, Sri Lankan call it as ‘Di-Wul’. As you mentioned it smells funky but tastes heaven. The Wood Apple fruit is 100% carbonic. No fertilizers or chemicals used to grow the trees. Mark did you ever tasted riped jack fruit?

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hi Wimalika, thank you very much. I really enjoyed wood apple when I was in Sri Lanka, and it does taste soo good. Yes, I’ve also had jackfruit, another fruit I enjoy. Thanks.

  • Don Johnson

    3 years ago

    Thanks for such a eye opener about this fruit, it’s viewing leave me with such a curiosity for my own experience. Not finding this in the US leaves me with so many questions. All of them points to the FDA and the cancer society. That seem to be a large leap but if it healthy its not good for this country. thanks a bunch for that awesome video.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Don, thank you very much for reading and watching, good to hear about your interest in a woodapple. It’s such an amazing and interesting fruit. I have never seen it in the US, but I’m sure it must be available somewhere. I hope you can find some soon!

  • Pravin Mishra

    3 years ago

    Hi, anyone know if packed Wood Apple juice is ready available to drink?
    Please, share the details.

  • Katelynn

    3 years ago

    I grew up on wood apples and exotic fruits since I was less then a year old! I still don’t like regular apples and oranges they taste strange to me! When we watched tv as a kid instead of eating popcorn or chips( which were not available) we ate lychees, mangos, passion fruits and wood apples. Now when I eat popcorn at a movie theater I can’t control myself, it tastes so good that I usually eat it till I’m sick!

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Katelynn, yes glad you love woodapples and grew up with them. I love them too!

  • Koththi

    4 years ago

    Wood apple Jam was invented in Sri Lanka and as I have heard by a British during the colonial era who happened to be working at ‘Marketing Department’ which is now the private company Lanka Canneries. Their brand is still ‘MD’ which is short for Marketing Department.

    Anyway, wood apple juice is a wonderful drink and locally now it is also available as chilled & ready made. Delicious.!!!

    But of course, nothing like making your own stuff. Which I love to do. Woodapple is a Sri Lanka dry zone fruit and a delicacy of the local elephants.

    BTW, Mark, your ‘Pol Sambol’ video is going viral over here in SL.

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey thanks for sharing Koththi, I wish wood apple was more common in other countries, it’s such an awesome fruit. Thanks for sharing about my pol sambol video!

  • Kapila R Jayasooriya

    4 years ago

    I love to eat or Drink (Juice) wood apple. 😀

  • Andrew

    4 years ago

    I just bought some wood apple jam on a whim from a local Asian market (in Missouri), and came across your site while trying to find out more about it.

    Jam probably isn’t the same as the fresh fruit, but what I have is produced by Lanka Canneries (they have a website, but don’t ship directly to the US), and the importer is Princess International Inc. (they apparently don’t have a website; there is another Princess International Inc based in Brooklyn, but the food importer is based in Norwalk CA). Their phone number is 562-407-0646; might be your best bet for finding a US source for a wood apple product.

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Andrew, thanks for sharing this info. How was the jam?

      • Andrew

        4 years ago

        It’s good. It has a slight funky aroma and a mild flavor (mostly overwhelmed by sugar). Raisiny seems like a good way to describe it, and there’s a spicy note I can’t quite place; nutmeg or allspice maybe.

  • Varninda

    5 years ago

    I am from Malaysia but now staying in US. I have tasted this fruit long time ago in my life for many time too. It so good to make juice and add coconut milk to it. I love it . It is very hard to get now in Malaysia. Great for you to taste it.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing Varninda and glad you also enjoy wood apple. I’m living in Thailand now, and it’s hard to get here too, so when I do find it, I buy as much as I can! Have you ever found it anywhere in the US?

  • Dinusha

    5 years ago

    Mark, it is so good to hear that you liked wood apple… 🙂 One of my favorites too. When we make wood apple juice at home we add some fresh coconut milk or some ice cream… it makes it more creamy. Wood apple is considered as a body heating fruit so the cream makes it cool .

    We also love the young wood apples which are not ripe.. it should be mixed with some salt and chilli powder and it tastes like a pickle … 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Cool Dinusha, the thought of wood apple mixed with ice cream, and the chili version both sound delicious! I really enjoyed eating wood apple in Sri Lanka, I think we always were carrying a bag of woodapples wherever we went. What part of Sri Lanka are you from?

      • Dinusha

        5 years ago

        Yep Mark… wood apple juice mixed with ice cream is like a really creamy smoothie 🙂
        I am from Colombo and you are welcome to my place in your next visit 🙂 (I’m not a good cook but I have my relatives who are really good at it 😉 )

        • Mark Wiens

          5 years ago

          Awesome Dinusha, thank you so much and will definitely let you know if I come to Colombo!

  • Victor

    5 years ago

    Looks like a… hmm… sorry 🙂

  • mahinda

    5 years ago

    This is my fevorite fruit..

  • Lyka Ricks

    5 years ago

    If you could travel to Philippines in its southern part, there’s also this fruit with a stinky smell but taste like heaven. If i could travel in there, i would like to taste the wood apple too. I love apples but this intrigues me!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks Lyka, glad to hear they also have wood apple in the Philippines, it’s wonderful!

  • Gemma

    5 years ago

    Never heard of these before, I do have a few Sri-Lankan friends however, maybe they know where and if you can access this in the UK! I’m now on a mission..

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Let me know if you can find some wood apples in UK!

  • Maria

    5 years ago

    Woodapple – Great find! I’ve never heard of it and now I’m searching furiously to source it in the US. I’m told you can find them easily in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan as well so someone must be importing them here, no? :-/ Thanks for my continuing education.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      No problem Maria. Yah, wood apples are quite common around India and I can even find them in Thailand, but not sure about the US… though like you said, they have to be available somewhere!

      • Manouk

        3 years ago

        Would love to try that! Where in Thailand did you find it? And what’s the season?

        • Mark Wiens

          3 years ago

          Hey Manouk, yes it’s available occasionally in Thailand, but kind of hard to find. It’s always available in Sri Lanka!

  • inka

    5 years ago

    Wonderful, I learned something new today. Hopefully one day I’ll have a chance to try a wood apple.

  • David W

    5 years ago

    Never heard of it, but I can appreciate your enthusiasm. Reminds me of when I first found mangostino. crazy delicious stuff. I will have to keep an eye out for the durian and wood apple.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks David, yah, you’ve got to try durian for sure. Wood Apple’s are definitely a little strange, but they are pretty good and extremely healthy – especially for digestion.

    • celeste

      4 years ago

      oh i can’t stop eating those, you can get them frozen now, i think. since i’ve tried multiple exotic fruits, i have a strange addiction to looking for new ones. 🙂 have you tried sapodila? its the sweetest fruit i’ve ever tasted in my life.

      • Mark Wiens

        4 years ago

        Hey Celeste, awesome glad you love it too. Yes, I’ve had it just once!

  • sully86

    5 years ago

    marK; that is so interesting. luckily there are no plasticapples, or steelapples…eheeh just kidding..

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks Sully! Haha, yah a steelapple might break your teeth!