Also known as nispero or chico
sapote, this member of the Sapotaceae family is native to the Yucatan
Peninsula of Mexico and Central America. Distribution of the fruit
and trees began before Columbus discovered the New World, and now
they can be found across the globe.
Today the plants are cultivated
almost exclusively for commercial fruit production, but the sticky
sap called latex was also coveted by indigenous Americans. In fact,
the sap is the original source of chewing gum or chicle in Spanish.
Commercial fruit production
is concentrated in Mexico, Southeast Asia, and on small scale in
south Florida. Improved selections in recent years by Gary Zill
and Dr. Richard Campbell have enhanced public opinion of both the
tree and the fruit tremendously.
sapodilla fruit of the not so distant past were typically round,
gritty, and born on very
large trees. Now we have incredible cultivars that are oval or
football shaped, that have the texture of a fine pear, and the
can be tailored to an individual’s particular needs.
The flavor of sapodilla appeals
to almost everyone, and it can best be described as a pear that
has been soaked in brown sugar. They are best served fresh and chilled,
and then they can be halved or cut into wedges. It can be difficult
at first to tell when the fruit should be picked because they are
still rock hard and there is no color break like with mangos.
However, the fruit do have
their own subtle indicators. By knowing the season that a particular
variety ripens within, a grower can narrow the time frame down to
an eight to ten week period. Over time a grower will become familiar
with the size of a mature fruit, and this is one of the best ways
to determine ripeness. Another sign is the outer texture of the
Immature fruit are much rougher
like sandpaper, but when the fruit is ready to pick it becomes smooth
and even shiny in places. The fruit typically take four to five
days to ripen once picked, and they are ready to eat when soft to
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