At first glance, the Sapodilla looks quite ordinary – similar to a small brown smooth-skinned potato. However, the resemblance ends there! This fruit is rich and juicy and fragrant with strong toasty undertones of toffee. It is a perfect example of comparing odour with similar in retained memory. Like a good wine, the nose of this unusual fruit gives hints of flavours that go deep.
The Sapodilla has an unexpected sweet butterscotch flavour, with a long malty finish which appears to appeal to almost everybody. The flavours are immediately obvious. The taste is distinctively of caramel or a pear poached in brown sugar. Perhaps this is because the texture is rather grainy, similar to that of a pear. The flesh ranges in colour from a pale yellow to a deep coffee colour and the fruit has 2-5 black bean-like seeds, which definitely should not be swallowed, due to a tiny hook protusion on one end which may catch in the throat.
This fruit treat is best eaten chilled and fresh, simply cut in half and spooned out. However, it is delicious stewed with lime and ginger, mashed and added to cakes or apple pies, or mixed in a batter to make Sapodilla fritters. Delicious with yoghurt or icecream!
The fruit has a high latex content and does not ripen until picked. For this reason, the bark of the Chiku Tree was once used in the making of chewing gum. The unripened fruit has astringent properties similar to tannin, and will dry out the mouth most unpleasantly.
Native to Mexico and Central America, the Sapodilla is now a major commercial crop in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia, but has now spread throughout most tropical countries including Northern Australia. Sapodillas are fruiting now. Drop in to the Mission Beach Visitor information Centre Monday or Tuesday at 1pm and have a taste treat.
Tropical Fruit Safari Presenter