The sapodilla is believed to be native to Yucatan and possibly other nearby parts of southern Mexico, as well as northern Belize and northeastern Guatemala.
The fruit is round to egg-shape, 5 – 10 cm in diameter. The skin is brown and scruffy when ripe. The flesh varies from yellow to shades of brown and sometimes reddish-brown, and may be smooth or of a granular texture. The flavour is sweet and pleasant, ranging from a pear flavour to crunchy brown sugar. Fruits can be seedless, but usually have from 3 to 12 hard, black, shiny, flattened seeds about 1 cm long in the centre of the fruit.
Health benefits of sapodilla
- Sapodilla is one of the high calorie fruits; 100 g provides 83 calories (almost same as that of calories in sweet potato, and banana). Additionally, it is a very good source of dietary fibre (5.6 g/100g), which makes it an excellent bulk laxative. This fibre content helps relieve constipation episodes and help protect mucousa of colon from cancer-causing toxins.
- The fruit is rich in antioxidant poly-phenolic compound tannin. Tannins are a complex family of naturally occurring polyphenols. Research studies found that tannins have astringent properties and shown to have potential anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-bacterial, and anti-parasitic effects. Hence, these compounds may found useful applications in traditional medicines as anti-diarrheal, hemostatic (stops bleeding) and as a remedy for hemorrhoids.
- Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory effect of tannins help limit conditions like erosive gastritis, reflux-esophagitis, enteritis, and irritating bowel disorders. Some other fruits that also rich in tannins include pomegranate, persimmon, grapes…etc.
- Sapote contains a good amount of antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C, and vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for vision and is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin A has been known to offer protection from lung and oral cavity cancers. So also, consumption of foods containing vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and help scavenge harmful free radicals from the human body
- Fresh ripe sapodilla is a good source of minerals like potassium, copper, iron and vitamins like folate, niacin and pantothenic acid. These compounds are essential for optimal health as they involve in various metabolic processes in the body as co-factors for the enzymes.
Selection and storage of Sapodillas
- Sapodillas can be available all around the season in the markets. Harvesting is usually done by plucking each fruit gently as you do a mango. It is often difficult to tell when a sapodilla is ready to harvest. Mature fruit appears brown and easily separates from the stem without leaking of latex. Scratch the fruit to make sure whether the skin is not green beneath the surface.
- In the stores, buy fresh sapodilla with smooth intact skin and without cuts/cracks, bruises or wrinkles. Once ripen, the fruit just yields to gentle thumb pressure.
- Mature but unripe fruits must be kept at room temperature for 7 to 10 days to ripen. Firm, ripe sapodillas can keep well for several days inside the home refrigerator and if set at 4°C, they can be kept for up to six weeks.
Preparation and serving methods
Wash the sandy scruff before eating in cold water. Fresh sapodilla should be eaten when it turns soft. Cut the fruit into two equal halves, then scoop the flesh using a spoon and discard the seeds. It should be enjoyed without any additions in order to experience its unique flavour.
Here are some serving tips:
- Fresh sapota sections are a great addition to fruit salads.
- Sapodilla milk shakes/smoothie is a favourite drink in Asia.
- It is also used in ice-creams, fruit-jam, cakes, pie,…etc.
Raw sapodilla fruits are high in latex and tannins and intensely bitter in taste. Eating unripe fruits may cause mouth ulcers, itchy sensation in the throat, and breathing difficulty, especially in the children.