Once you open a ripe black sapote (Diospyris dignia) you can see why it is called “chocolate pudding fruit.” The deep rich brown smooth pulp with its spoon-like consistency looks exactly like chocolate pudding.
I am often asked, “What does it taste like?” I want to reply that it tastes exactly what it tastes like but this does not help the unwary. So, for those of you who must know what something taste like before you venture into unknown territory, it has a sweet and mild flavor and with a little imagination you can actually taste chocolate as well as hints of coffee.
Perhaps it is our eyes playing tricks on our taste buds. Sensory information from our sense of smell, sight, and taste all contribute to the appeal of this food. It is when food combinations are mixed with black sapote that it really shines and tastes just like a rainbow.
Not a true sapote, the black sapote is closely related to the persimmon family. A lovely tree, it has shiny dark green leaves, black bark with shapely crowns reaching heights of 60 ft. if left un-pruned. A fast fruit producing tree, it can fruit in 3 to 4 years here in Hawaii.
Often the fruits are seedless and occasionally a fruit is found with 5 or 6 shiny, penny-sized oval seeds. The best way to get seeds is to look directly on the ground under the tree for them. All trees planted by seed with produce both types of flowers (male and female), so planting more than one tree is not necessary.
In Kapoho, HI, at an elevation of 150 feet, my trees are ever-bearing. Native to Mexico and Central America, the not strictly tropical tree will produce fruit at elevations of up to 5,000 and 6,000 feet.* When planting this tree, it is best not to let them overhang driveways or lanai where ripe fruit will drop and splat. This tree can adapt to most soil conditions as long as it is well watered.
Determining when to pick a black sapote fruit so it will ripen correctly is a troublesome issue for most tree owners. Picked at the wrong time, they will never ripen and will after about 3 weeks simply turn brown and rot. If you wait for them to ripen on the tree you may find a bird has also discovered this delicious jewel and pecked at it. In addition, when ripe, the fruit is marshmallow soft and extremely delicate. Bright green and hard on the tree, each fruit must be visually inspected for signs of maturity.
First, seek out the larger fruit and look for a dull light cast with a higher concentration of black, spray paint like markings. Then inspect the stem it must have raised slightly off the fruit. Once picked it should ripen in 2 to 10 days and take on a bronze, olive-green hue. The skin is somewhat bitter and typically not eaten.
When ripe, the fruit has about 4 times the amount of Vitamin C (191.7 mg) than an orange. In addition, it has significant amounts of Calcium (22 mg) and Phosphorus (23 mg)*. Not having tried this myself, but backyard medical uses call for crushed bark and leaves applied as a poultice to blisters, ringworm and itching skin conditions.*Now, to get back to the rainbow-like flavor mentioned earlier. You are sure to impress the most wary of inexperienced tropical fruit consumers by mixing skinned and seeded fruit into a smoothie, ice cream, sorbet, raw pie, pastry filling, breads, fruit leather, or Dan’s Black Sapote Cream Meringue Pie.
In addition, mother’s find it the perfect baby food because of its pudding texture and not overly sweet flavor. Babies love Black Sapotes.
Add chocolate, rum, coffee flavored liqueur for a divine creation that will look and taste rich and yummy. For those with a more primitive taste, enjoy halved with just a spoon. Drizzle with agave nectar, honey or cream for a divine treat.
“Instant” Raw Chocolate Pudding
2 ripe black sapotes (skinned & seeded)
2 tbsp. honey (or preferred sweetener)
¼ cup cream or whipped cream
1 tsp. Cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
Whip or mash with a fork all ingredients in a bowl until pudding-like consistency and serve. Add a topping of whipped cream if desired.
Another one of our favorite recipes is Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding bars.
Do you have a favorite recipe for Black Sapote? Or a way you like to eat it? We’d love to try any recipes and post them on our website. If you’d like to share then post your recipe in the comment box. Mahalo!
*Julia F. Morton, Fruit of Warm Climates, 1987;
Featured photo by Hannah Rose