Fresh noni fruit is very hard to find in the United States, but it’s a staple ingredient in cuisines throughout the Pacific where it grows natively. You never forget your first whiff of noni, and its pungent aroma is indicative of its funky flavor. Also known as the cheese fruit, noni gets its ripe moniker from its acrid flavor that’s reminiscent of odiferous Limburger cheese.
Don’t let this fruit’s smelly reputation keep you from experiencing its unique flavor! Ripe noni tastes a lot like it smells: earthy and composty, with a hint of citrusy sourness. The harder the flesh of ripening noni, the more astringent and sharp the flavor typically is. When fully ripened, the stinky-sour cheese flavor and fragrance is at its peak, and the flesh is almost as gooey as its nickname suggests.
As noni ripens, the fruit turns from hard, bumpy and green into a creamy yellow, then white fruit with smooth, translucent skin that resembles an oval-shaped potato. Inside, noni fruits have white flesh with lots of dark, edible seeds inside. Because they have a somewhat woody texture, some noni fans choose to spit them out. At this stage, noni can be consumed raw as an adventurous snack.
Unripened noni has a very bitter flavor and tough texture that becomes edible only when cooked. Using noni at this stage adds bitter, aromatic and earthy flavor to soups, curries and rice dishes. Even though noni can have a challenging flavor at first for some fruit fans, it’s complexity is a taste worth acquiring!
How to prepare your Noni will depend on the recipe you’re using. Here are the most common ways to prepare Noni for just about any recipe.
How to slice a noni fruit depends on whether it is ripe or immature. In their green stage, the tough peel must be removed from the fruit, and the flesh cooked prior to consumption. Once the peel is removed, slice, dice or chop the fruit as you would a potato or a carrot’s dense flesh.
Once ripened, noni are so soft that you can easily pull the flesh apart with your fingers. To slice it raw, noni can be cut longways into wedges or across the width into round slices.
Noni must be fully ripened in order to consume it raw. The green skin is very tough and should be discarded before cooking the fruit’s immature flesh.
Fully ripened noni looks like a smooth, bumpy potato with translucent white flesh that yields easily to the touch. Eat raw slices of fresh noni as an adventurous fruit snack, skin, seeds and all. Don’t forget to sprinkle some flaky sea salt over the top!
There are tasty ways to balance out the pungent, cheese-meets-wasabi flavor of ripe noni fruit. For instance, try sprinkling some flaky sea salt on top of noni slices. Pair the fruit with a hearty cheese, starchy vegetable, rich sauce or sweet rice.
One of the most popular ways to enjoy noni is in juice form, either as a fresh or fermented juice made from whole fruits. Noni is believed to have anti-inflammatory and other healthful properties, particularly when fermented into a potent, sour juice. Ripe noni can be blended and strained into a fresh juice that is more powerfully and complexly aromatic and slightly citrusy with a mouth-numbing effect.
Noni fruits can ripen quickly and have a short shelf life, so proper storage is key to enjoying these hard to find fruits. Green, unripened noni should be stored in a cool, dark, well ventilated area to ripen, up to three days. Once ripe, the noni fruit will turn translucent white and much softer. These mature noni should be eaten immediately, or stored in a tightly sealed glass jar for fermentation.
These funky fruits should be eaten as soon as you open them. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one day, or consider freezing unused portions. Ripe noni fruit can be frozen easily. Carefully wrap and seal noni in a freezer safe container for up to three months.
Do you feel like a Noni eating expert now? Show us your favorite ways to prepare and eat noni by tagging us in your culinary masterpieces on Instagram @Fruitstandcom!