Noris Ledesma, Curator of Tropical Fruit
When I arrived in Florida, I was struck by the amount of space people have in their home gardens. In Bogota, Columbia, where I come from, most houses have little or no home garden. Here in South Florida, many houses have room for a pool, for a children's play area and for a backyard tropical fruit grove.
Tropical fruit is a distinctive element of South Florida cuisine. A group of dedicated Fairchild volunteers developed a collection of delicious, easy to prepare recipes using these fruit. This month we feature the black sapote.
A member of the persimon family the black sapote is native along both coasts of Mexico from Jalisco to Chiapas, Veracruz and Yucatan. Outside of Mexico, it is cultivated in the Philippines and the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Hawaii and of course Florida. It is an attractive evergreen tree, 25 ft or more at maturity but grafting trees can be maintained at a height of 12 ft. Because there are both male and female trees when grown from seed, it is preferable to use grafted trees, which can bear within 3 years.
The black sapote fruit is rounded and flattened like a green tomato. The flesh is dark brown or black and is rich and has a sweet flavor. Many people compare it with chocolate pudding. Most black sapote in South Florida ripen in December, through March in a time when we have few tropical fruit to enjoy. The fruit are picked when full size but unripe (olive-green color) and ripen in about 10 days at room temperature. The black sapote is soft when fully ripe. The fruit can be used fresh or frozen. Ripe fruit will store for 3 or 4 days in refrigeration. For longer storage, (6 months) pulp should be removed from the fruit and frozen.
Black sapote are rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, and have a relatively high amout of potassium and small amounts of other vitamins and minerals. One cup of fresh pulp contains: 70% water, 142 calories, 2.6 g protein, 0.8 g fat, 34 g carbohydrate, 360 mg potassium, 22 mg Vitamin C and 420 IU Vitamin A.