Native to Southeast Asia, northern areas of South America, Central America, and Mexico, the sapote is a fruit-bearing plant. In Caribbean English, it’s known as soap apple.
The word “sapote,” which comes from the Nahuatl word “tzapotl,” refers to soft, eatable fruit. Pouteria sapota is the scientific name for this genus, which belongs to the Rutaceae family. The color and texture of these fruits are used to categorize them.
Sapotes are grafted trees that are available for purchase from nurseries. Its fruits can be eaten straight from the tree or turned into ice cream or smoothies. This delectable tropical fruit is likely to be found in Mexico’s markets.
What Kind of Fruit is Sapote?
The oblong sapote has rusty brown skin and is medium to large (with a diameter of 2-4 inches). It looks similar to avocado and has a huge central pit holding seeds.
The texture and flavor of the fruit seeds are similar to that of an almond. However, they are not edible. Sapote is a good source of potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, phosphorus, and calcium, among other nutrients.
Types of Sapote
While sapote tastes sweet and has a soft flesh, the wider sapote family contains a variety of flavor palettes and colors that give each variety its unique characteristics.
Diospyros nigra, sometimes known as Diospyros nigra, is a member of the Ebenaceae family. The original Aztec tzapotl is Black Sapote, which is endemic to eastern Mexico and southern Columbia. It’s also found in the state of California.
This kind is also known as “the chocolate pudding fruit,” a delectable moniker. That’s because, when fully mature, its flesh resembles – you got it! – the soft, sweet, and universally adored dessert dish.
Because of its sweet and inexplicable flavor, it is the most well-known sapote kind. Black sapote has a chocolate brown flesh hue and looks like a greenish-yellow tomato. It is best to eat the black sapote when it is fully ripe, as the fruit has a bitter and unpleasant taste when it is premature.
Another sapote with a memorable moniker: This variety is frequently referred to as a “Mexican apple.” With a green or yellow peel covering its spherical shape, the fruit does resemble some apple kinds.
They’re completely white on the interior, yet the flesh is considerably softer than a crunchy apple’s bite, with a consistency similar to vanilla flan and a flavor that can be banana or pear-like.
However, this variety of sapote is remarkably similar to apples – or at least the enchanted apple that put Snow White to sleep.
Due to its long reputation for causing eating to go asleep, white sapotes are also known as “sleeping sapotes.” Science has recently confirmed these stories, revealing that the plant’s seeds (but not the flesh) have narcotic characteristics.
White sapotes can be consumed on their own or in salads with other fresh fruits. To produce an energetic drink, combine the pure peeled, seeded sapote with orange juice or milk and a few drops of vanilla. Cooking makes them soggy and less flavorful, so it’s preferable to consume them raw.
The Ross sapote has luscious, orange skin that has been compared to the hue of a hardboiled egg yolk. The taste is unmistakably sweet. It’s often eaten raw or made into a milkshake in South America.
The Ross Sapote is a lovely pale orange with deeper red stripes on the outside, comparable to a tiny pumpkin or gourd. In comparison to their sapote counterparts, the fruits are smaller and grow in tighter bunches.
South American Sapote
These sapotes, also known as Chupa Chupas, are native to the Amazon jungle and thrive in deep, damp soil.
The fruits have a drab, woody appearance when they first grow from their branches, but they have a gorgeous yellow-orange flesh with the typical sapote sweetness and tenderness inside.
While these sapotes are farmed less often than their cousins, the South American sapote is gaining popularity. It has recently made the transition from the Amazon to a few Florida farms for global distribution.
These sapote varietals are technically persimmons, but they’re more commonly called Mexican persimmons, Texas persimmons, or black persimmons.
These fruits, which are on the smaller side. Moreover, they are as dark-colored as their nickname suggests and were once used by Native Americans to manufacture black dye for animal skins.
But, unlike their black sapote counterparts, they don’t taste like your usual fabric coloring product. Instead, they have a soft, sweet flesh that’s often incorporated into puddings or custards.
These sapotes, native to Cuba and the Caribbean, are the largest fruit, resembling a smaller grapefruit – or a smoother version of a coconut – when fully matured.
They have a vivid red flesh on the interior that is as silky and dreamy as their sapote cousins and is frequently seen in milkshakes, smoothies, and ice cream.
But it isn’t simply their flesh that is in demand. Mamey sapotes also have a huge “kernel” in the core that, because of its infusion of vitamin E, vitamin B6, and a variety of other beauty-enhancing minerals, is commonly ground up and put to natural beauty products.
Health Benefits of Sapotes
Sapotes contain minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients. They have the following health advantages:
Dietary fiber improves health by making feces soft, thick, and easier to pass. Hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and colon cancer are all reduced by eating enough fiber.
Depending on your age and gender, doctors recommend 21 to 38 grams of fiber each day. Sapote, which contains around 9 grams per one-cup meal, can help meet that nutritional goal.
Carotenoids are the pigments that give red, orange, and yellow foods their color. They’re also beneficial antioxidants that can protect biological tissues from harm.
Sapote is rich in carotenoids, as one might anticipate given its dark hue. Alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lycopene are carotenoids present in sapotes. It also includes the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which help keep your eyes healthy.
Carotenoids-containing fruits and vegetables are crucial elements of a diet because experts aren’t sure if these chemicals are safe and effective as supplements. There might be additional findings concerning sapote’s health advantages in the future. Researchers identified two new carotenoids in sapotes in the year 2020.
When you don’t get enough iron in your diet, you might have iron deficiency or anemia. Heme, which comes from animal sources, and non-heme, which comes from plant sources, are the two types of iron.
Anemia is a problem for vegetarians who acquire their iron from non-heme sources for two reasons. Plants, for starters, have less iron than animal products. Second, non-heme iron absorbs more slowly than heme iron.
Sapote is a good source of dietary iron when compared to other plants. It also includes vitamin C, which can help with non-heme iron absorption. Non-vegetarians who are attempting to limit their diet of red meat may benefit from the iron in sapotes.
In a few days, a completely developed sapote ripens. The fruits may be sent to faraway markets if they are shipped as soon as they are picked. They were formerly shipped to the United States from Mexico and Cuba.
Cortez and his army are said to have been sustained by the sapote throughout their momentous march from Mexico City to Honduras. The fruit is so valuable to Central American and Mexican Indians that they often leave this tree standing when clearing land for coffee plantations or other uses.
They usually consume the fruit with their hands or with a spoon from the half-shell. The pulp is turned into jam or frozen as sherbet in metropolitan areas. Fibrous kinds are kept aside for processing in Cuba.
A well-known Miami dairy has imported sapote pulp from Central America for many years to prepare and sell as “Spanish sherbet.” A thick preserve known as “crema de mamey colorado” is particularly popular in Cuba. Guava cheese is occasionally made with pulp as a filler.
Decorticated seeds strung on sticks or cords, known as zapoyotas, sapuyules, or sapuyulos, are sold on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico, and Central America. In order to make chocolate, the kernel is boiled, roasted, and combined with cacao–some say to improve the flavor, others say to increase the volume, in which case it is an adulterant.
It is finely crushed and turned into a unique confection in Costa Rica. The ground-up kernel is combined with parched corn, or cornmeal, sugar, and cinnamon and served as a healthy beverage called “pozol” in the Oaxaca region of southern Mexico.