Ever had fruit that tastes like chocolate but without the guilt, high calories and with absolutely no caffeine? The Black Sapote tree has just such a fruit. It is often used in smoothies, which enhance the smooth, soft, almost pudding-like texture, and bring out the mild chocolate flavor. Nutritionists have learned to cultivate and utilize this fruit, also called pudding and/or chocolate custard fruit, for many excellent dessert and snack recipes. It is versatile, and although not the most beautiful of fruits, it more than makes up for it in other areas.
A sort of ugly duckling story, the Black Sapote is best when it turns from an attractive green to an ugly, but perfectly ripe, dirty brown. When the outside texture turns somewhat leathery, and when the inside is smooth, it is just right to eat.
The succulent, tomato sized fruit of the Sapote is also high in fiber, low in fat, has no saturated or trans fat. It has almost thirty milligrams of important immune boosting antioxidants. It is rich in potassium, recommended for diets which need this without the health costs of too much salt. It also offers significant amounts of calcium, without the heavy or caloric aspects of so many calcium-rich foods, such as dairy, provide.
The Black Sapote is a close relative to the Red Sapote, which is also called Mamey fruit. The trees, although native to Mexico and Guatemala, have made the journey with far-flung farmers all around mid- and Central America. They are also cultivated in the Dominican Republic, and as far away as the Philippines. Spanish settlers took them there, as the fruit is easy to grow and tolerates varying conditions and soils.
The trees make excellent shade trees, and are often grown in many parts of Florida and Hawaii in the United States. They grow up to eight meters and provide a thick, round canopy that stays evergreen and shady all year around.
Just being discovered by many people in the northern hemisphere, the Black Sapote is gaining in popularity due to the many advantages it offers. The flesh is fairly thick and pulpy, and lends itself to may prepared dishes. It can also be eaten raw by hand, or often with a spoon. Ripe and raw, in its pure form, it is a not so attractive on the outside, but very attractive on the inside, a versatile fruit.