While GB collects his thoughts for ever-so-many posts, here's The Iron Palate with a swell discovery of a new-to-us tropical fruit: the fabulous chicozapote. I finally took a flyer on these fuzzy-skinned, oblong, brown fruit objects I’ve been seeing in the sooper mart for a while. I had no clue what they were or how to eat them, so I Googled a little bit. Here’s what I found.
Purdue University’s horticulture department describes chicozapotes as the fruit product of the Sapodilla tree, presumed native to Mexico. Grows well in poor soil and adapts to a broad range of elevations and temperature/moisture levels. Cultivated into many varieties, the fruit comes in different shapes and sizes with varying numbers of seeds inside. The chicozapote fruit sold in the Mazatlan market of my choice are oblong with one long, black, shiny seed inside. Very pretty, that seed. When ripe and ready to eat, the fruits are quite soft, and have the slightly grainy texture of a baked apple with a flavor very much like brown sugar. It is Really Good, I’m here to tell you. Purdue says you can either eat the fruit by simply spooning it out of the skin or using it in a fruit salad; or you can stew it with lime and/or ginger; or mix the mashed pulp it into pancake batter, bread dough, and egg custards. The Propane Chef is hankering to mix it with chili and lime and whatever, and use it as a glaze for pork or chicken. So it’s a versatile little fruit.
Three drawbacks to chicozapotes. The Sapodilla tree is a latex tree whose sap is used to make chewing gum, and its unripe fruit is very heavy in this sap and tannin, making it inedible with extreme prejudice. The tannin sucks all the moisture out of your mouth and you have to stick your head under a faucet to rinse out the nastiness. Ask me; I know. The skin retains some tannin even after the fruit is ripe, so although it looks like the skin of a kiwi fruit it is not edible like the skin of a kiwi fruit. And the very pretty seeds are toxic; Purdue says eating more than 6 can cause abdominal cramping and vomiting. I certainly won’t eat them after reading that, but I’ve decided to save the pretty seeds & make primitive art or jewelry out of them. Because it’s something I’ve never had any talent for and I want to frighten GB with Bad Craft Projects. Heh.