Kumu Aina Farm deems that the Mamey Sapote should be called the mother of all fruits. Some fruits have a distinction above others. Two that come to mind are the Durian, known as the king of all fruits and the Mangosteen called the queen of all fruits. Hefty titles, indeed.
On our farm, we have dubbed the Mamey as the mother of all fruits. There are many reasons why this fruit is entitled to be called this. They are by far the most popular exotic fruit on our farm, are nutritionally superior to most fruits, are ever bearing, and one fruit is usually enough food for even a hearty appetite.
Out of 600 fruit trees on our farm, 125 are mamey trees. We have been told that this is the largest mature orchard of mamey in Hawaii. These fruits can weight between ½ to 5 lbs. with the average weight of 1-1/2 pounds. At a 130 ft. elevation, we grow two varieties, the Magaña and the Pantin.
By far the Pantin is the Island favorite which produces fruits generally summer through December. This variety has a dark redish-orange flesh, round in shape and is much sweeter than the Magaña. Magaña’s are available almost year round and are larger, somewhat football shaped and lighter fleshed. We often describe the flavor as that of a flavorful pumpkin or sweet potato. People have told us that they taste like papaya, mango and surprisingly watermelon.
Often these fruits are cut lengthwise and either eaten with a spoon or cut in sections and eaten like a melon. The skin is not eaten. High in carbohydrates and fiber, other food value of note is Calcium (28.2-121.0 mg), Ascorbic Acid (8.8-40 mg), Phosphorus (22.9-33.1 mg), Niacin or B3 (1.574-2.580 mg), and the essential amino acids Tryptophan (19 mg), Methionine (12 mg) and Lysine (90 mg).* Eating this fruit may help you sleep normally, absorb calcium and produce niacin, help with bone and teeth formation, recover from an injury, and prevent build up of fats in the liver and arteries.
The trees in our orchard are planted every 20 ft. This may be considered too close by some standards (25-40 ft)*. However, our orchard is never mowed and only maintained twice a year to pull out seedlings and weed trees. Our trees were grafted and planted some 20 to 25 years ago. Mamey’s are said to produce fruit abundantly for 100 years. Having lived on the farm for over 10 years, we have yet to add commercial organic fertilize any of these trees and they have produced an amazing quantity of fruit. Somewhat of an evergreen and not deciduous in our area, they do lose a few leaves and drop fruit which helps to feed them. Our trees have reached a height no greater than 40 ft. but are said to grow from 60 to 100 ft. tall.
Each fruit is visually inspected before picking. We pick from ladders, climbing or simply standing on the ground. Rarely do we use extension pickers, unless it is at the height of the fruiting season and judging by outside color (a mottled gray) and size you can just about tell when a fruit is ready to be picked. For the best selection, the fruits ripen from the bottom up and you must lightly scratch the surface to determine the degree of orange color or not of the flesh. Green fruit is left for another time. Dark orange or orange flesh can be picked and expect to ripen in one week or less. Rarely will you find a fully ripened, ready-to-eat fruit on the tree. Each tree holds a variety of fruit at all ages of growth.
You can expect to find flowers, small pea-sized fruit, one year old fruit and fully mature fruit at 18 months of age. In a perpetual state of reproduction, it is hard to determine an appropriate time to prune.
If you are not growing this fruit but intend to purchase it at a fruit stand, market or natural food store, it is best to lightly scratch the skin near the stem. Unripe fruit is orange when scratched and will ripen in a week or less. Any fruit that is green will never ripen, only rot. A fully ripe fruit will give way to gently pressure (like an avocado), have a slightly heavier feel to it and a tight skin with little to no wrinkling.
The mamey sapote flourishes in tropical and subtropical climates with rainfall above 75″ a year*. It is best grown from sea-level up to 2,000 ft. but is said to grow (not flourish) at up to 5,000 ft.* Grafted trees may bear in 1-4 years. Seedling trees take 8-10 years to fruit under the best conditions. It grows well in a wide variety of well-drained soils but is intolerant of constantly wet or flooded soil conditions. Young trees should be watered frequently and not left to wilt.
A backyard medicinal use of this fruit focuses mainly on the seed kernel which when shelled and pared with a knife smells and tastes like almonds. The seed kernel is regarded as a digestive and the oil is said to be diuretic. The oil is also used as a hair dressing to prevent hair loss associated with certain skin conditions and as sedative in eye and ear ailments.*
This fruit is rarely affected by pests. Pigs will forage on the dropped fruit. Rats and mice will sometimes chew small holes near the stem on ready to pick fruit. Birds do not seem to be drawn to it. Fruit flies are rarely a problem in harvestable fruit, though I have found larvae in ripe, soft fruit on the orchard floor.
A great way to eat a mamey is in smoothies or mashed up raw and spread into a pie shell. Try using mac nuts or egg fruit as a topping. A raw mamey pie makes a great substitute for pumpkin pie and is much easier to make. Use the same seasonings like allspice, cinnamon, vanilla bean and nutmeg. Surprise your family and friends with this delicious and nutritious treat next holiday. I guarantee this will be the highlight of the desserts.
Another way, is to substitute mamey for pumpkin in your favorite pumpkin pie recipe. Here’s one below. Also, try the most delicious pie recipe from one of the people who stayed at our farm, Kat Shaw. Her pie was the most delicious mamey pie ever!
Mamey Sapote Pie:
- 3 cups of mamey sapote fruit
- 1/2 cup of Maui sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tbs of flour
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp of clove
- 1/2 tsp of allspice
- 1/4 vanilla bean
- 2 tbs of butter or coconut oil– melted
- 9″ pie crust unbaked
Cut mamey in half and scoop out the fruit into a large mixing bowl. One nice sized mamey should be enough for 3 cups. With electric mixer beat in eggs, sugar, milk, butter or oil, flour and spices until smooth. Spoon filling into pie shell and bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes until pie is set and crust is golden.
Mamey Sapote and Chocolate Pie by Kat Shaw
For the crust: With a food processor pulse 2 cups nuts (I did macadamia and pecans), 1/2 c dates, 1/2 c shredded coconut, 1/4c coconut oil or fat, 1/4 c cacao nibs, 2 tsp salt. Pulse it. It should be sticky, if not add more dates or fat. Press dough firmly into spring form or pie pan. Refrigerate 1 hr.
For the filling: Soak 1/2 c cashews in water for at least 2 hrs. Drain water. In blender add cashews, 1/4c melted coconut oil or fat, 2-3 c fresh mamey and coconut, juice of 1 lime, 1/2 tsp salt, vanilla extract, and spices (cinnamon and cardamom) If it needs sweetness add honey, dates, or whatever. Adjust flavor with salt or more lime. Blend until smooth. Pour filling into pie crust, smooth, and refrigerate for 3 hours or more.
For the topping: Melt 1/4 c cocoa butter (or whichever fat) add 3-4 tbs cacao powder, 2 tbs honey, pinch salt, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom. Mix well or blend. Pour over pie and refrigerate to harden, 1 hr.
*Julia F. Morton, Fruit of Warm Climates, 1987;