This month, we feature the little known (in the U.S.), but delicious Black Sapote or chocolate pudding fruit, Diospyros nigra. In its native regions of eastern Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and into Colombia, it is known and loved. This member of the Persimmon family wears the distinctive “crown” of its relatives, and like other Persimmons is astringent and unpleasant when unripe. What makes this fruit unique is that it ripens from bright green to black, and the flesh takes on the consistency of chocolate pudding—hence the common name. The trees are large and hardy, and can withstand light frosts. Fruits are harvested when mature, and left to ripen. To judge maturity, watch for the bright green color to change to a more olive or dark hue. In fact, this is one of those tropical fruits that is best enjoyed fully ripe. If you look at it and think “I should probably throw that out”, it is probably at its peak of flavor. If they are left to ripen on the tree, usually they will fall with a resounding splat, and no small amount of mess. Flavor varies with cultivar, but most perceive a chocolate flavor, and I find it best enjoyed fresh by cutting the top off (to make a natural cup) with a spoon of local honey or brown sugar stirred in. Like so many fruits, the Black Sapote can be prolific, producing more fruit than can be eaten fresh. Luckily, it can be used as a fantastic ingredient in cakes, pies, puddings, smoothies, ice cream and more—anywhere you would like a twist on the traditional “chocolate” flavor.
Some other fruits you may find at The Fruit and Spice Park in the month of March are:
- Star Apple or Caimito, Chrysophyllum cainito
- Mamey Sapote, Pouteria sapota
- Rollinia, Rollina deliciosa
- Banana, Musa spp.
- Coconut, Cocos nucifera
- Gambodge, Garcinia xanthochymus