Sapodilla fruits are technically berries, and they grow on evergreen trees in the Sapotaceae family, which originated from southern Mexico. Purportedly, there were over 100,000,000 sapodilla trees in this zone, stretching down into Belize and Guatemala.

This fruit has spread to the West Indies, Florida, India, and Southeast Asia. It is also known as sapota, naseberry, mud apples, chico, chickoo, chikoo, nispero as well as Manilkara zapota.

The fruit’s round exterior has a kiwi-like shape. The fruit generally reaches about two to three inches long, and it can be round or oblong in shape. The exterior features brown and smooth skin that hides a light brown, pinkish color flesh.

The flesh inside is creamy, smooth, and fragrant. It can be granular, similar to a pear, especially before fully ripe. Seeds dot the middle of the fruit. These hard, black seeds look like beans and should be discarded.

They are grown on a sapodilla tree, Manilkara zapota. This tree has a pyramid-formed shape that can grow up to 100 feet tall. The evergreen leaves are glossy green, and the tree is strong, with a white, gummy latex that can leak out like sap.

The tree flowers year-round, and the flowers transform into small sapodillas that grow to the size of a small potato.

Sapodilla comes in many different varieties: Prolific, Brown Sugar, Russell (a variety from the Florida Keys), Tikal (a newer cultivar), and Modello (which bears a delicious fruit).

The Prolific variety can yield up to 450 pounds of fruit per tree per year. The tree flourishes in spots with good drainage and has a high tolerance to salty air and soil. Mature trees do not need irrigation.

Sapodillas are ready to be picked when the skin is completely brown and they separate easily from the tree. However, once picked you must still allow the fruit to ripen to its soft stickiness. To achieve this faster, you can put them in a brown bag.

Sapodilla can be hard to find outside of South Florida. It may be possible to purchase tropical fruit online. When purchasing sapodilla, scratch the exterior a bit. If you see any green, the fruit is not ready to eat.

However, if it is brown and a bit soft, it’s ready to eat. Store your sapodillas in the refrigerator to maintain ripeness for a few days.

How do you eat sapodilla?

If the fruit is ripe, you can eat it raw. Using a sharp knife, cut the sapodilla in half. Remove the dark seeds and discard. These seeds have tiny hooks so they should not be consumed.

Then, using a spoon, scoop out the flesh and eat it straight from the fruit, as you do with a kiwi. The skin is also edible, although there are many people who discard it.

Sapodilla is great blended into smoothies, yogurt, or milkshakes. It can also be made into ice cream or sorbet. In some cultures, the flesh is added to pancake batter or bread dough to enrich it.

Sapodilla wine is also popular to produce where sapodillas are abundant. Eating it fresh is the best way to consume it according to most people.

What does sapodilla taste like?

The sapodilla has sweet, grainy flesh that has a malty kick to it. The taste is somewhere between brown sugar, caramel, and pear. It can have cinnamon notes.

When is sapodilla in season?

In Mexico, the season is late fall through early spring, with peaks between October-December and February-April.  In Asia, the season is from December to March. In Florida, the season peaks in summer, June, and July.

Health benefits

Sapodilla has some unique health properties that make it an interesting fruit to consume:

  1. Sapodilla is rich in vitamins A and C. Vitamin A is essential for healthy eyesight, and sapodilla is rich in vitamin A. It also has a high vitamin C content, which boosts immunity and kills free radicals, among other things.
  2. Sapodillas may be good for your stomach. Dietary fiber in sapodilla is a great way to stay regular and prevent constipation. The fruit also has nutrients that help prevent irritable bowel syndrome.
  3. Sapodillas have anti-inflammatory properties. The tannin content of sapodilla gives it strong anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin C also contributes antioxidant properties, which can help avoid inflammation.
  4. Sapodillas can be good for your blood. Thanks to its high magnesium and potassium content, sapodilla can play a part in keeping blood vessels healthy. Potassium promotes healthy blood pressure levels and good circulation. 
  5. Sapodillas can help in the fight against cancer. As loaded with vitamins and antioxidants as sapodilla is, it is a great tool in your health repertoire. All the antioxidants in the fruit have been shown to have anti-cancer properties.
  6. Sapodillas can be part of a diet good for your bones. It has a combination of nutrients that are super good for your bones: calcium, phosphorus, iron, folates, magnesium, and more. They help keep your bones strong throughout your life.
  7. Sapodillas can be good for your skin. It may boost collagen production in your body, which helps keep your skin and hair healthy.  It also fights against wrinkling, making this a great food for staying beautiful.

5 x sapodilla facts

1) The sap of the sapodilla tree, sometimes called chicle, was the original chewing gum. The base material for the fabrication of gum was the sticky white liquid released by the tree.

2) A paste made of the seeds of the sapodilla is used to put on venomous animal bites.

3) Sapodilla can help mothers-to-be get over bouts of nausea and dizziness, thanks to the nutritional content of the fruit.

4) The wood of the sapodilla tree is valued for its durability.  Mayans used it in their building, and sapodilla was found in Mayan temple ruins.

5) You can take the bark from the sapodilla tree and brew tea from it, which helps ward off fever, diarrhea, and even dysentery.

Read more about other fruits

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