Fruit of the Month: Mamey Sapote
It was fitting that my first encounter with the mamey sapote, known locally as zapote (sah-poe-tay), was at Zapote’s Sunday farmers’ market. It was a few months after my move to Costa Rica, and I thought I had mastered the market’s offerings. (Four years later, and I still don’t know everything about Costa Rica’s tropical fruits!)
Oblong, brown fruits sat piled before me, their rough exteriors covered in a layer of almost transparent fuzz vaguely reminiscent of unripe peaches. Puzzled, I asked the vendor for the name of the fruit and with a grin, he told me this was the day’s must-buy fruit: zapotes from Zapote!
He plucked a ripe specimen from the table, split it open to reveal an obsidian pit, and handed me half of the creamy, orange fruit. The texture was something like avocado with a bit of squash thrown in. Silky, and slightly stringy, it tasted like sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving – only this flavor was laced with apricots and almonds instead of marshmallows.
Mamey sapotes grow from southern Florida south through Central America, and are common in Latin American homes. They sell at the farmers’ market between February and June for less than $1 per pound – a steal for fruits that are high in vitamin C, calcium, carotene, fiber, iron, potassium and vitamin A! Mamey sapote are so uniquely enjoyable that, like me, you may want to eat them straight off the farmer’s cart. But if you can wait to get home, try your hand at creating sapote ice cream, a sumptuous preparation for this velvety fruit.
Mamey Sapote Ice Cream
1/3 cup whole milk, chilled
2/3 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 cup Greek-style yogurt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup of mamey sapote pulp
Run the sapote pulp through a food processor or blender until smooth, and then place in the refrigerator to chill. Blend the sugar into the liquid ingredients, stirring gently. Take care not to whip the cream. Fold in the sapote pulp. Place the mixture into an ice cream maker and process. Place in the freezer until set.
If you don’t have an ice cream maker, put the mixture into a chilled container. Set in the freezer and check every hour until the mixture is partially frozen. Beat thoroughly and place in freezer overnight to create ice cream.