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And if you’re asking yourself, “What the heck is eggfruit?” then – that’s a lot!
Seriously, Though - What?
Don’t worry. You’re far from the only one who would look at “eggfruit” and feel anything from confused to slightly weirded out. But there’s nothing to fear! Eggfruit is actually routinely pretty creamy and delicious!
So, what is eggfruit, exactly?
Well, we’re glad you asked.
The mysterious produce is actually the fruit of a specific type of evergreen tree, called the Pouteria campechiana.
The fruits are on the small side, but more than make up for their stunted stature with their sweet taste and creamy texture, which comes in a bit like their close relatives, the sapote.
And like their sapote cousins, eggfruits are also often eaten and enjoyed raw, bitten straight into or sliced open and scooped up with a spoon. In fact, they’ve been at the heart of many fruit lovers’ dessert recipes for decades, making for popular additives to everything from smoothies and milkshakes to custards and ice creams—or, we guess you could say, “egg creams.”
Egg On the Face
If it still feels weird to call something an “eggfruit,” you can go by the produce’s technical name: canistel.
It’s official nomenclature comes from the Mexican town of Campeche, widely believed to be the place where the canistel was first cultivated, though the fruit also sprouts up all over the Southern Hemisphere and equatorial states, including Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, Jamaica and the Bahamas. Whew!
And the eggfruit isn’t just indigenous in Latin America. It’s actually also a huge hit in Asia, where it’s commonly found everywhere from Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam to the island nations of Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
Each territory has its own special name for eggfruit, giving you even more options for alternative names, including laulu in Sri Lanka, lamut in Thailand, and cây trứng gà in Vietnam, which actually translates to “chicken egg plant.”
As for its slightly less specific (but just as odd) American moniker: That comes from the canistel’s beautiful, deep orange color and luscious creamy texture, both of which reminded a number of people (or, at least, the ones in charge of nicknaming fruit) of an egg yolk.
That signature color is also a signature sign of beta-carotene (the same plant compound responsible for making carrots orange). Also known as vitamin A, this somewhat-difficult-to-find nutrient works wonders for the immune system, as well as the eyes.
Eggfruits are also loaded up with other nutritional goodies, including calcium, phosphorous and iron, making them particularly helpful for strengthening teeth and bones and supporting healthy blood cells in the circulatory system.
Such a healthy reputation was just one of the reasons why the plant made its equatorial exodus to become a globally-prized fruit. Many pilots and crewmen working for the British Royal Air Force during World War II completed their training in the Bahamas – where they discovered the oddly sweet treats.
Eggfruit became all the rage on British bases there, and the RAF happily turned a blind eye to the hordes of the fruits the servicemen brought out of the country with them, thanks to the boosted nutritional content they had to offer the troops.
Still, we hope those pilots were flying fast: Eggfruits have a typical shelf-life of only 3-10 days after picked. (Next to avocados, they’re one of the picker fruits out there in terms of keeping things fresh.)
But if you can manage to get your hands on a ripe one, no matter where in the world you are, what it’s called or whether you’re currently piloting a World War II-era aircraft, we’re pretty sure you’ll find plenty to love about this little fruit so many knew so little about!