In the world of fruits, mango and avocado are two fruits with some measure of popularity. Do you know what Lucuma is? If you do not, just picture a cross between a mango and avocado with green skin. It is pronounced (Loo-Koo-Maa), this fruit is usually dried and converted into powder form before use.
A powdered form of fruits would be a great thing to have in the kitchen. Having powered forms of fruits will greatly increase the number of ways in which you can use the flavor and taste of that fruit. The lucuma grows on a sub-tropical tree and is famously known as the gold of the Incas.
What does lucuma taste like? Lucuma has a creamy and citrusy taste with a hint of caramel or maple. The exact taste of fruits like this can be quite hard to figure out, so the next best thing is to compare it to other fruits or food items you can identify. Some people have compared the taste of lucuma to that of sweet potato. Lucuma smells nice and has evolved to become the most loved flavor of ice cream in Peru.
Now that you know what Lucuma tastes like, what nutritional benefits does it have, and how can you use it in the kitchen?
Nutritional Benefits of Lucuma
The most common adaptation of the lucuma fruit you would see around is the powder form. This powder form can be used as a sweetener and it is one of the most nutritious sweeteners you can find out there. This is due to the nutritional properties of the lucuma fruit that are passed down in its powdered form.
Lucuma powder is not as sweet as normal table sugar, but it is more nutritious. It contains zero fat, vitamins, carbs, and fiber.
The lucuma fruit is a good source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are very powerful compounds, they are capable of protecting the cells in the human body from free radical damage. Free radical damage is caused by highly reactive molecules in the body.
Antioxidants can also reduce the risk of the occurrence of cancer cells. If they are already present in the body, it can help slow down the progression. The steady consumption of lucuma can also help reduce the risk of heart diseases due to the presence of antioxidants.
Lucuma has a yellow color that can be largely attributed to the presence of a group of carotenoids known as Xanthophylls. These carotenoids can promote eye health and help good vision.
Vitamin C is well known for its antioxidant properties and how it can help to keep everyday illnesses away. Lucuma is chocked full of it and has a lot of Vitamin C to go around. Vitamin C can also act as an immune system booster and help to promote good eye vision and heart health.
Lucuma is very rich in carbs. For every 7.5 grams of lucuma, you have about 6 grams of carbs. But the carbs in lucuma are complex, so the fruit offers protection from type 2 diabetes. The carbs in lucuma are mainly starch and fiber, they help to promote the health of healthy bacteria in the gut and keep a healthy blood sugar level.
Culinary Uses of Lucuma
Lucuma can be eaten fresh right out of your hand. Only the flesh is eaten, the skin and seed are usually discarded. The most popular application of the lucuma fruit is its powdered form. The fruit is first dried, then ground into powder to be used as a sweetener or a sugar substitute wherever it is possible.
The powder can be used like brown sugar in cakes, bread, baby food, and muffins. Lucuma can be blended into a paste and used for fillings for pastries and pies. The paste can be added to jam to add flavor to it, or in syrups. Lucuma can be used to make a dipping sauce for churros or to act as a topping for dulce de leche.
Lucuma pairs well with other fruits, so you can use it in fruit salads, paired with fruits like lemon, pineapple, cinnamon, banana, and nuts like cashew, and peanuts. In the country of Peru, lucuma fruit is used to make their favorite flavor of ice cream. The fruit can be blended with milk or fruit juice to make a smoothie.
Where is Lucuma Grown? How Do You Procure It?
Lucuma is available all year round, with its peak season being in the summer. Lucuma is native to the indigenous people of coastal Peru. The Moche people that lived there, liked to represent fruits and vegetables in their art due to their fascination with agriculture.
The first reported sighting of the lucuma fruit was by the Europeans in Ecuador, in 1531. So naturally, lucuma grows in Peru and Ecuador at temperate elevations of 1000 to 2400 meters above sea level.
For commercial purposes, lucuma is grown in Chile, Costa Rica, and Bolivia. There have been attempts to grow lucuma in Florida, but the climate isn’t favorable for the fruit. You can order lucuma from online purveyors, or visit specialty grocery stores to buy it. Laying your hands on the fresh lucuma fruit might be hard but you can easily get lucuma powder in stores.
Is Lucuma Similar to the Avocado?
In looks, lucuma has been compared to avocado or unripe mango. It is quite similar to the avocado if the avocado has green outer skin, you might be unable to tell them apart. Once you take the peel of the lucuma off, the golden-yellow flesh tastes like creamy caramel.
Facts You Don’t Know About Lucuma
- The botanical name for lucuma is Pouteria lucuma. It belongs to the Sapotaceae family.
- There are two varieties of lucuma, they can be classified into hard or silk fruits. The most common variety is in the class of silk fruits. It is softer and sweeter.
- Lucuma is still largely localized to its native areas of growth. It is only grown commercially to be converted into a sweetener that can be used as a substitute for table sugar.