Fruit of the Month: Star Apple
Star apple (Chrysophyllum cainito), one of my favorite tropical fruits, is a sweet treat that deserves its name: the exterior is the size of an apple and when cut in half, the interior seed pattern resembles a star. In Costa Rica, the star apple is typically in season from late January through April. You may have also heard it referred to as cainito, aguay, or milk fruit; it's known as caimito here in Costa Rica. You'll find it at your local farmers' market, street stands, or grocery store for less than $1.50 per pound.
The star apple is characterized by its purple flesh and milky, mild pulp. (There is also a variety with a light green exterior, but I have never seen it in Costa Rica). The purple skin is inedible; its seeds are generally flat, oblong and brown, and are also inedible. The sweet pulp has a high water content; its texture is unique, and I can only describe it as smooth, silky and soft, similar to a very ripe pear. Its flavor is mild, like nothing I've ever eaten before. Star apples contain vitamin A, B-6 and C, as well as niacin, folate, calcium, and potassium.
To enjoy the star apple fruit, cut it open to expose the white pulp and seeds. The sweetest, most fleshy fruits often have just three to five seeds, but star apples with more than five seeds are also delicious. To enjoy, spoon each pulp-covered seed out of its purple shell and suck off the sweet flesh.
I like to eat star apple right out of its built-in purple bowl, but it is also wonderful whipped into a cool, sweet sorbet.
Star Apple Sorbet
3 cups ripe star apple pulp, seeded and mashed
1 cup white or raw sugar
2 cups water
In a large saucepan, mix sugar and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer sugar mixture; stir until sugar is dissolved and water is not cloudy. Let mixture cool completely.
After the sugar mixture is cool, place it into a chilled ice cream maker container, add the star apple, and process until it turns into sorbet. Place in the freezer until set.
If you don't have an ice cream maker, mix cooled sugar mixture with star apple pulp and place into a chilled container. Place in freezer; check every hour until the mixture is partially frozen. Beat thoroughly and place in freezer overnight to create sorbet.