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We here at FruitStand have a saying: There are only two kinds of people in the world who don’t like sapote – those who have never heard of it; and those who are wrong.
No matter which category you fall in though, it may behoove you to learn a bit more about all the interesting types of this fantastic fruit.
“Sapote” is thought to be an adaptation of the Aztec word “tzapotl,” which is used as a stand-in for any soft, sweet fruit.
But a sapote is anything but any old fruit.
While the exotic bites remain relatively unknown in the United States, they’ve been a popular choice in South and Central America – as well as Southeast Asia – for years, where they’re cracked open and eaten raw, sometimes with the aid of a spoon.
And they’ve been hanging around South America so long, sapote have even found their way into the gardening ecosystem there, with sapote trees often planted around coffee fields. The sapote leaves offer protective shade when the coffee is freshly planted, but fall just when the beans are ready to sprout, and soak up all that newfound sun.
And we think to ourselves, what a wonderful world.
While their trees can be relied on to follow such patterns, the saptoe fruit itself is a bit more enigmatic. The plants can look like anything from a woody pear to a green-ish tomato, depending on the variety.
And while their taste is indeed sweet and their flesh soft, there are a number of flavor pallets and colors involved in the extended sapote family that make each variety of the fruit its own special experience:
Perhaps the most famous type of sapote, this varietal is also known by its delicious nickname, “the chocolate pudding fruit.”
That’s because, when it’s ripe, its flesh looks, feels and tastes just like – you guessed it! – the soft, sweet and ever-adored dessert dish.
All this under the shape and skin of a fruit that looks exactly like a greenish-yellow heirloom tomato!
But, with black sapotes as with life, good things come to those who wait. Biting into one of these babies before it’s ripe will leave a bitter, astringent and even irritating taste in your mouth. Proceed with caution.
From the dessert cart to the breakfast nook, the Ross sapote sports a moist, orange flesh that many have compared to the texture and color of a hardboiled egg yolk.
Still, the taste is still undoubtedly sapote sweet, often eaten raw or sometimes in South America mixed into a milkshake.
On the outside, the Ross Sapote is a beautiful light orange, with streaks of darker red similar to a mini pumpkin or gourd. And the fruits tend to be smaller – and grow in tighter clusters – than their sapote cousins.
Another sapote with another catchy nickname: This cultivar sometimes goes under the guise of the “Mexican apple.” And indeed, the fruit does resemble some apple varieties, with a green or yellow skin covering its rounded shape.
On the inside, they’re pure white, though the flesh is much softer than a crunchy apple’s bite, with a consistency compared to vanilla flan and a taste that can take on notes of banana or pear.
But this type of sapote shares another surprising characteristic with apples – or, at least the enchanted one that put Snow White to sleep.
White sapotes are also called “sleeping sapotes,” due to their long reputation for making eaters doze off. And science has since backed up these claims, noting that the seeds of the plant (though not the flesh) exhibit some narcotic properties.
South American Sapote
Also known as the chupa chupa, these types of sapotes are indigenous to the Amazon rainforest, growing best in deep, wet soil.
When they do sprout from their trees, the fruits have a dull, woody appearance out front but sport a beautiful yellow-orange flesh that bears the signature sapote sweetness and softness.
And while these types of sapotes are less commercially cultivated than their cousins, the South American sapote is beginning to gain more popularity, recently making the jump from the Amazon to a few farms in Florida for greater distribution around the globe.
Technically a type of persimmon, these sapote varietals grow mainly in Texas, where they’re also known as the “Texas persimmon,” the “Mexican persimmon” or the “black persimmon.” Whew!
On the smaller side of the sapote world, these fruits are indeed as dark-colored as their nickname, and were in fact used by Native Americans to make black dye for animal hides.
But they certainly don’t taste like your average fabric coloring product, sporting instead a soft, sweet flesh that’s often mixed into puddings or custards, much like their black sapote cousins.
Native to Cuba and the Caribbean, these types of sapotes represent the largest variety of the fruit, resembling a smaller version of a grapefruit – or a smoother version of a coconut – when fully grown.
On the inside, they sport a vibrant red flesh that tastes just as smooth and dreamy as its sapote brethren and often finds itself mixed into milkshakes, smoothies or ice cream on its native islands.
But it’s not just their flesh that’s sought after. Mamey sapotes also have a large “kernel” in their center that’s often ground up and added to natural beauty products, thanks to its infusion of vitamin B6, vitamin E and a number of other beauty-boosting minerals.
It just goes to show that sapotes always share the love, helping you look as beautiful as they taste.