Manilkara zapota

Other names: Zapote Chico, Chiku.

Intro: Recorded as a fruit that is almost universally eaten. The sap from this plant was used as the base for chewing gum. When burned, the wood gives off an aroma of incense.

History: Originates from Central America.

Shape: Round to egg shaped.

Weight/size: Typically 5-10cm in diameter and varies from 75 to 200g in weight

Colour: Thin-skinned and heavily rusted brownish grey with orange flesh. The core of the fruit contains seeds which have a hook, so care should be taken when eating.

Taste: Very rich, sweet caramel taste. Some varieties have a slightly gritty texture.

Buying/serving: Ripe sapodillas have brown skin and give slightly when pressed. Unripe fruits are hard and unpleasantly astringent, with a smooth greenish skin under the brown exterior. Rubbing will reveal the colour of the skin. They exude a sticky sap if cut before they are fully ripe. Unripe fruit will ripen at room temperature. Sapodillas can be stored in the refrigerator, frozen or dried.

Preparing/serving: Sapodillas can be eaten fresh by simply cutting them in half, scooping out the flesh and removing the seeds. A squeeze of lime or lemon will enhance the flavour. The flesh can be mashed and stirred into cream or custard or made into ice-cream and mousses. It can also be added to cake and pancake mix. Excellent when dried.

The skin can also be eaten.

Variety: Wide range of selections.