Naseberry, also known as Sapodilla, is a tropical fruit that I enjoyed growing up in Jamaica. This extremely sweet fruit is nature’s candy at its best. As you read this article, you will understand why I referred to it as nature’s candy.

There are so many different fruits and veggies all over the world, so it’s no surprise that there’s one or two that you might not have heard of.

In this article, we’re going to take you through everything that you need to know about naseberry or sapodilla fruit.

my naseberry plant in a barrel

What is naseberry or sapodilla fruit?

This fruit is a popular fruit in Jamaica, and it is from that food that most people will know it. Naseberry, also known as Chico, Zapote, Zapotillo, Chicle, or sapodilla plum, is a tropical fruit originating from the Caribbean and Central America. It also grows in other tropical regions such as Asia and India.

The fruits themselves vary wildly in shape, size, and color. Some of the are round, while others are more oval-shaped.

On the whole, the fruit varies between four and eight inches in diameter. The skin of the fruit is usually brown when ripe, and it has a rough, sandpaper-like texture.

Different individual fruits show the most variation in their flesh. Typically it is a dark brown color, though it can be reddish-brown or a yellowish color instead. There are seeds in the center of the fruit that are flat and black.

The flesh of the naseberry fruit is particularly sweet in both taste and aroma. The aroma is particularly fragrant and noticeable.

What does sapodilla fruit taste like?

The sapodilla fruit isn’t actually a fruit but is instead a berry. That said, it is a particularly large berry, which is remarkably sweet.

The internal flesh of sapodilla fruit has a distinctive texture that is quite similar to that of a pear. The flesh is quite grainy, though crumbles easily. The fruit boasts an exceptionally sweet taste, balanced by a malty flavor, making it a good match for many other fruits.

When unripe, the sweetness is not present at all. Instead, the fruit has a high proportion of saponin. Saponin is a chemical much like tannin, and they both have particularly astringent properties. Therefore, unripe sapodilla is likely to taste very dry.

Chewing Gum Tree

The skin of the sapodilla is perfectly edible, though it is not the best part of the small snack. When unripe, the skin is particularly firm at the point of picking, and the stem of the fruit will release white chicle – a type of natural latex.

However, when ripe, the skin is much softer and becomes fairly saggy. When picked at his point, the stem doesn’t release any of the chicle.

The chicle actually has an interesting history, as a slight aside. In the modern-day, companies that make gum use a number of different chemicals to achieve that unique chewy texture.

Before inventing those chemicals, companies sourced chicle from the sapodilla tree, earning it the nickname “chewing gum tree”.

Between the candy-like super sweet flavor that the flesh of the fruit boasts and the confectionary part of the tree’s sap, the whole affair’s really useful and unique to the food industry.

The seeds within the fruit are particularly bad for human consumption. Not only are they very hard and difficult to eat, but they’re fairly large and have a hook at one end. If swallowed, the hook can catch in the throat, which is uncomfortable, to say the least.

Where to buy naseberry?

Naseberry can be particularly tricky to buy because the plant is fairly fickle. As much as the plant has grown well in a number of tropical environments, it can only do well in such environments and grows very poorly if the temperature lowers by much.

If there’s an unexpected cold snap and the temperature goes below freezing, though, the plant can and will die fairly quickly.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a pleasantly tropical environment, then you may be able to buy sapodilla at the supermarket and then grow your own tree!

The seeds from the plant will grow well if properly watered and cared for, and will become a fully-fledged tree in the right conditions.

Once fully grown, the tree blooms year-round and bears fruit twice a year. The flowers are particularly small and beautiful, so even if you don’t feel you’re getting enough fruit, it makes a very pretty decorative shrub.

How To Ripen Naseberry

After harvesting the fruit from the tree, it needs some time to ripen before it’s ready to eat. It’s one of the few fruits in the world that isn’t ready for consumption at the same time that it’s ripe for harvesting.

Different methods exist to prepare the fruit for eating. As a general theme, people keep the fruit away from light and at roughly room temperature in order to speed the process up. Surprisingly, in the Bahamas, people bury their sapodilla in their gardens until it’s ready to eat.

There’s every chance that you won’t be able to get sapodilla near where you are unless you happen to live in a tropical paradise.

Your best bet to try them is to head to a local market if you’re ever in a tropical locale, and ask around for them. If that doesn’t work, you can even try asking around at local restaurants.

One thing’s for sure, it wouldn’t be worth picking them off a tree like a mango to try to enjoy a fresh, free meal. If you don’t wait, you’ll face a tough, hard fruit that’s difficult to eat and won’t be as delicious as desired.

Other Exotic Fruits: 

Whether you’re able to get your hands on a few naseberries or not, I know that I want to hear about your supplier!

This fruit has such a unique flavor profile, and I’m sure I’d love to inhale them by the bucket. If you can’t get your hands on any, then be sure to put it on your list as something to try if you take a vacation to the Caribbean!

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