Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sapodilla - Chikoo

Scientific Synonym - Manilkara zapota

Also known as -
  • chikoo/chiku/sapota in India
  • sobeda/sofeda in Eastern India/Bangaladesh
  • Sabudheli in Maldivessawo in Indonesia
  • lamoot in Thailand/Cambodia
  • sapodilla in Guyana/Trinidad/Tobago
  • naseberry in Jamaica
  • sapathilla/rata-mi in Sri Lanka
  • dilly in The Bahamas
  • sapoti in Brazilchico
  • sapote in Mexico/Hawaii/southern California/southern Florida
  • ciku in Malay
  • Heart Fruit in China

Native to - Native to southern Mexico, Central America and the West Indies. It is grown in huge quantities in India, Mexico and was introduced to the Philippines during Spanish colonisation
Rich Source of - Antioxidants, vitamins A & C, potassium, copper, iron and vitamins like folate, niacin and pantothenic acid

Tastes like - The flavor is sweet and pleasant, ranging from a pear flavor to crunchy brown sugar.

Propagation - The sapodilla is most commonly propagated by seed adn grafting. The best seeds are large ones from large fruits. They germinate readily but growth is slow and the trees take 5 to 8 years to bear

Interesting Facts -

  • The fruit has a high latex content and does not ripen until picked.
  • The bark contains a gummy latex substance called chicle which used to be a primary ingredient in chewing gum.
  • Most people find it difficult to tell when a sapodilla is ready to pick. With types that shed much of the "sand" on maturity, it is relatively easy to observe the slight yellow or peach color of the ripe skin, but with other types it is necessary to rub the scurf to see if it loosens readily and then scratch the fruit to make sure the skin is not green beneath the scurf. If the skin is brown and the fruit separates from the stem easily without leaking of the latex, it is fully mature though still hard and must be kept at room temperature for a few days to soften. It is best to wash off the sandy scurf before putting the fruit aside to ripen. It should be eaten when firm-soft, not mushy.
  • Care must be taken not to swallow a seed, as the protruding hook might cause lodging in the throat
  • It is sometimes fried in Indonesia and, in Malaya, is stewed with lime juice or ginger.
  • Cooking with sugar changes the brown color of the flesh to a pleasing red.
  • The tannin-rich bark is used by Philippine fishermen to tint their sails and fishing lines.
  • Sapodilla wood is strong and durable and timbers which formed lintels and supporting beams in Mayan temples have been found intact in the ruins. It has also been used for railway crossties, flooring, native carts, tool handles, shuttles and rulers. The red heartwood is valued for archer's bows, furniture, bannisters, and cabinetwork but the sawdust irritates the nostrils. Felling of the tree is prohibited in Yucatan because of its value as a source of chicle.
  • A major by-product of the sapodilla tree is the gummy latex called "chicle", containing 15% rubber and 38% resin
Sought by Birds - Many Birds and bees

Availability - In India, the main season is from December to March. In Florida, with the peak of the crop in June and July. In Mexico, there are two peak seasons: February-April and October-December.

Health Benefits -

  • Because of the tannin content, young fruits are boiled and the decoction taken to stop diarrhea.
  • An infusion of the young fruits and the flowers is drunk to relieve pulmonary complaints.
  • The crushed seeds have a diuretic action and are claimed to expel bladder and kidney stones.
  • A combined decoction of sapodilla and chayote leaves is sweetened and taken daily to lower blood pressure.
  • A paste of the seeds is applied on stings and bites from venomous animals.
  • The latex is used in the tropics as a crude filling for tooth cavities.
  • Sapodilla is rich in dietary fiber (5.6 g/100g), which makes it a good bulk laxative. The fiber content helps relieve constipation episodes and also helps protect the mucous membrane of the colon from cancer causing toxins by firmly binding to them.
  • The fruit is rich in antioxidant poly-phenolic compound tannin. Tannins have shown to have potential antiviral, antibacterial and anti-parasitic effects. Tannins have many useful applications medicinally as anti-diarrheal, hemostatic, and anti-hemorrhoidal remedies.
  • It contains good amounts of antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for vision. It is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin A known to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers. So also, consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful free radicals.
  • Fresh ripen sapodilla are good source of minerals like potassium, copper, iron and vitamins like folate, niacin and pantothenic acid. These compounds are essential for optimal health as they involve in various metabolic processes in the body as cofactors for the enzymes



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