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.