Brown sugar and maple syrup!
Latin Names: Manilkara Zapota, Achras sapota,
Other names: Chicle tree, Zapotillo, Dilly, Nispero, Chico Zapote, Sapota, sapota, sapodilla, nose berry, sapodilla plum or chikoo sapotem, chikoo, ciku,
Varieties: Alano, Brown Sugar, Prolific, Russel, and Tikal are some of the most common.
Characteristics of Chico:
Chico is round (almost egg shaped) with a tapered end. The diameter is 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) and its length is 2-2.5 inches. Its pulp ranges from yellow to brown and it is smooth and sometimes a little grainy in texture. The skin is papery or “scruffy”. There are usually 1-6 seeds which are black, sort of oval, with a little spike, and 3/4” or less long.
Taste and Culinary Uses of Sapodilla:
This fruit is aromatic, sweet and floral, and consequently it tastes sweet like brown sugar and maple syrup. The texture is similar to kiwi, juicy, gel-like and also granular. It can be eaten raw, in salads, sorbets, smoothies, juices, pancake batters, baked pies, etc. Moreover, in any of these culinary applications you can try adding a splash of lemon juice to enhance flavor.
Caution: the latex and tannins of unripe fruit may cause mouth ulcers, itchy throats, and difficulty breathing.
Harvest and storage:
Chico is harvested about 6 months after flowering. To be sure it is ripe there are several clues. 1. The skin turns lighter brown and separates easily from stem (without oozing latex). 2. The color also changes from yellowish to brown. 3. You can scratch the fruit to make sure the skin is not green beneath the surface. 4. When it is ripe the skin yields to gentle thumb pressure.
A whole bunch of mature, unripe chicos can be cut and hung. Kept at room temperature the fruit will ripen in 5 – 10 days. Ripe fruit is good at room temperature for a few days. However, it will last longer if refrigerated. Additionally, the frozen pulp stays good for a few weeks. When buying chicos in the store look for fruits that have smooth skin without bruises, cuts, cracks or wrinkles.
Shipping: Chico is durable if picked hard, can transport for a few days.
Chico has 200 calories per cup or 100 g provides 83 calories. It is relatively high in Vitamin C (39.33%), Dietary Fiber (33.68%), Iron (24.13%), and Copper (23.00%). Sapodilla is known to relieve stress, prevent colds, prevent anemia, reduce arthritis, and heal wounds (homeostatic qualities, it helps to stop the loss of blood). It is antiviral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and an anti-parasitic agent. It is also a sedative used to relieve stress and anxiety. Chico also contains significant amounts of folic acid.
Chico recipes from other sites:
Chikoo Melon Shake Recipe (http://www.medindia.net/patients/lifestyleandwellness/health-benefits-of-chikoo.htm)
- 1 cup chopper chikoo
- 1 cup chopped muskmelon
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 4 cups milk
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
- Ice cubes as required
Ciku Smoothie (http://tropicalfruitfarm.com.my/pdf/Sapodilla-Ciku-k.pdf)
- 125 ml milk
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp brandy
- 125 ml ciku pulp
- 4 cups of ice.
Sapodilla growth patterns:
In general, chico seedlings bear fruit in 3 to 8 years, while grafted trees bear in 2 to 4 years. Seedling trees are not guaranteed to be identical to parent tree, thus grafted trees are more desirable but harder to find and much more expensive. Seedlings can still produce great fruit, but there is more variability.
Although these are slow growing trees, they can reach up to 100 feet tall. However, grafted chico varieties tend to be shorter in height. Generally speaking, sapodilla tears bear prolifically about 2 times per year and live 50-100 years.
Planting from seeds: Although you will get best results if you plant them ASAP the seeds should stay viable for a few years if kept dry. Plant about ½ inch deep in moist, sterile potting soil with good drainage, and place pots in warm place, do not let the soil dry out. Seeds should germinate in 4-6 weeks but may take longer. To speed up germination, you can try soaking the seeds for 24 hour and placing in a plastic bags with a moist (rung out) paper towel. Check every day after about 1-2 weeks for sprouts and then plant in moist soil in larger 1-3 gallon pots. When plant is about 1-2 feet tall with strong root development, plant in the ground.
Wild sapodilla trees are known for the chicle (latex) that was was originally used as the base for chewing gum.