Sapodilla goes by many names; it may be seen as an exotic fruit in some parts of the world, but it is a domestic fruit in India, Africa, and the Philippines, where it has been consumed for centuries.
Sapodilla, also known as chikoo, grows in Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, and Asia and is often mistaken for an Asian pear. If you don’t know it as sapodilla or chikoo, you might know it by other names like Sapote, Chiku, Nispero, or Naseberry.
Sapodilla is the sweet fruit of an evergreen plant that bears the same name. The skin has a yellowish tan reminiscent of the Asian pear. It has a peachy white flesh with two large black seeds that look like oversized watermelon seeds. If you decide to try out this fruit, what should you expect?
What does sapodilla taste like? Sapodilla has a sweet malty flavor with an undertone of pear. The taste is unique, and its tropical flavor is quite prominent. Sapodilla has a creamy texture; it needs to be fully ripe before you can experience its authentic taste.
Unripe or partially ripe sapodilla will have a sour taste due to the high level of tannins. But when it is fully ripe, it is sweet, soft, and tastes like a cross between pear and pineapple.
Fresh ripe sapodilla plays host to many nutrients that can benefit the body. It is an excellent source of minerals like copper, potassium, iron, and vitamins like folate and niacin. Sapodilla contains pantothenic acid, a compound essential for good health because of its huge role in metabolism.
Sapodilla is a fruit that is naturally rich in vitamin C. A 100 gram serving of sapodilla supplies the body with about 24 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin C. Fruits with such properties can help boost immunity and protect the body from everyday illnesses.
Sapodilla is also a great source of antioxidants. Antioxidants tackle free radicals in the body and protect cells from damage. Vitamin A can also be gotten from eating sapodilla. Research has shown that eating fruits rich in vitamin A can help protect the body against certain kinds of cancer, including lung and oral cavity cancers. Vitamin A is also great for maintaining a healthy vision and healthy glowing skin.
This fruit is a high-calorie fruit like the banana; it has almost the same calories as sweet potato. If you are watching your calorie intake, you should probably take minimal amounts of sapodilla.
Unripe sapodilla contains tannins, which is one of the major reasons why it has a sour taste. Tannins have astringent properties and are known to have anti-viral, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Tannins also have properties that make them useful applications in traditional medicines to stop bleeding and anti-diarrheal.
You don’t have to eat unripe sapodilla to get these benefits. Ripe sapodilla contains healthy amounts of tannins. The anti-inflammatory properties of tannin also make it useful for conditions such as erosive gastritis, irritating bowel disorders, and reflux esophagitis.
Culinary Uses of Sapodilla
The seed of sapodilla is not edible; aside from the fact that they don’t taste good, they are a choking hazard. The pulp is quite soothing to the throat when you eat it raw. Sapodilla can be used in many dishes and recipes, and it can also be used for its oil. You can peel this fruit, chop it up and add it to a salad recipe that is garnished with fresh cilantro leaves.
Picking ripe sapodilla is the only way to truly enjoy sapodilla is to eat it when it is fully ripe. A mature sapodilla fruit will fall from the tree when you touch it lightly. You can also recognize ripe sapodilla by scratching off the fuzz on the skin; if the skin is brown and lightly soft, then it is ripe and ready to be eaten.
Sapodilla can be used in ice cream; churn the flesh with milk, eggs, and cream to make ice cream. You can also juice this fruit or add it to your favorite smoothie recipe. If you are not a great fan of liquids, you can implement sapodilla in sweet dessert dishes like tart, cheesecake, or pudding. You can also dry slices of sapodilla for later use in cereal.
Where Does Sapodilla Grow?
Sapodilla is not strictly a tropical fruit; it can survive in temperatures ranging from 26-28 F for a short period. It probably originated in the Yucatán Peninsula, the nearby southern regions of Mexico, and the northeastern areas of Guatemala. Sapodilla looks like a cross between a kiwi and a potato; it has an oval shape and mud-brown skin with fuzz on it.
The Sapodilla tree that bears sapodilla fruit can grow between 20 and 50 feet; sometimes, it can grow up to 100 feet. You can quickly grow this plant from seedling to plant, but it takes about 4 to 7 years before it begins to bear fruit. It can be grown in pots or greenhouses if you have limited space.
Sapodilla grows worldwide, where the temperature is not too cold to hurt it. It is grown in the United States, in Florida, Hawaii, and California.
What Does Sapodilla Smell Like?
The scent of freshly cut sapodilla is best described as woody, minty, spicy, and fatty/green. Dried sapodilla smells differently. It has citrusy, fatty/green, sweet/balsamic notes.
Facts You Don’t Know About Sapodilla
- Sapodilla will remain fresh in the freezer for a month. To freeze it, wait until the fruit is ripe, then scoop all the flesh from the peel after removing the seeds. Then store the flesh in an airtight container or ice cube trays in the freezer. It will remain at its best quality for up to a month.
- Sapodilla seeds are very toxic; they contain saponin. Whatever you do, don’t eat them.