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The Zapote is a small fruit, roughly one to three inches in diameter with a smooth brown exterior. The rind is tough but when peeled away reveals a vibrant orange flesh. It tastes somewhat like a fig, in terms of sweetness and an avocado, in terms of texture. The Zapote has anywhere from two to five hard, inedible black seeds in the center of the fruit. The flesh is a deep orange that can be somewhat stringy. When unripe, the fruit contains high amounts of saponin, an astringent that can dry out the mouth. When ripe, the Zapote is soft to the touch and emits a sweet aroma.
The Zapote is available year-round, with peak seasons in the early spring and late fall.
The Zapote is known by many names, the Sapodilla in America, Chico Zapote in Central America, the Dilly in Great Britain, and the Chicle in Mexico. A byproduct of the Zapote tree is a gummy latex referred to as “chicle” which has been used as the main ingredient in chewing gum for decades and dates back to the ancient Central American culture, the Mayas.
The Zapote is most often eaten fresh, out of hand. In Central America it is blended with milk, ice, sugar or water for a refreshing beverage. The fruit of a Zapote can be mashed and used to make custards or blended into smoothies. It freezes well and can also be used in fillings for pies, crumbles and ice cream. The skin and seeds are inedible.
The Zapote was first mentioned by the Spaniards after their conquest of Central America in the 16th century. Its origin is within the tropical rainforests of that region, where the native Mayan descendents highly regarded the fruit. Now, the Zapote can be found throughout Central America, Mexico, India and a few parts of southern Florida. Its wood has been used for lumber, cabinetry and furniture in Central America, though it is generally only harvested for the fruit. The fruit thrives in the warmer, equatorial regions and cultivation in the US has been limited.
Recipes that include Zapotes. One is easiest, three is harder.
|The Opulent Opossum||Mamey Sapote Ice Cream|
|Sailu's Kitchen||Chikku (Sapota) Milkshake|