Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Sapodilla (Chikoo)

Botanical Name :Manilkara achras/Manikara zapota
Family: Sapotaceae

Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales
Genus: Manilkara
Species: M. zapota
Other names:   Chikoo or chiku,sobeda/sofeda in eastern India and Bangladesh,sapota in India,Sabudheli  in Maldives,sawo in Indonesia,sawo in Indonesia,h?ng xiêm (lit. “Siamese persimmon”), l?ng m?t or xa pô chê in Vietnam,lamoot  in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, sapodilla in Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago, naseberry in Jamaica, sapathilla or rata-mi in Sri Lanka, zapote in Colombia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Dominican Republic and Venezuela, nípero in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, dilly in The Bahamas, naseberry in the rest of the Caribbean, sapoti in Brazil, chico in the Philippines and chico sapote in Mexico, Hawaii, southern California and southern Florida. In Kelantanese Malay, the fruit is called “sawo nilo” which is closer to the original name than the standard Malay “ciku”. In Chinese, the name is mistakenly translated by many people roughly as “ginseng fruit” (???), though this is also the name used for the pepino, an unrelated fruit; it should instead be “heart fruit” because it is shaped

Habitat: 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.

The sapodilla is a fairly slow-growing, long-lived tree, upright and elegant, distinctly pyramidal when young; to 60 ft (18 m) high in the open but reaching 100 ft (30 m) when crowded in a forest. It is strong and wind-resistant, rich in white, gummy latex. Its leaves are highly ornamental, evergreen, glossy, alternate, spirally clustered at the tips of the forked twigs; elliptic, pointed at both ends, firm, 3 to 4 1/2 in (7.5-11.25 cm) long and 1 to 1 1/2 in (2.5-4 cm) wide. Flowers are small and bell-like, with 3 brown-hairy outer sepals and 3 inner sepals enclosing the pale-green corolla and 6 stamens. They are borne on slender stalks at the leaf bases. The fruit may be nearly round, oblate, oval, ellipsoidal, or conical; varies from 2 to 4 in (5-10 cm) in width. When immature it is hard, gummy and very astringent. Though smooth-skinned it is coated with a sandy brown scurf until fully ripe. The flesh ranges in color from yellowish to light- or dark-brown or sometimes reddish-brown; may be coarse and somewhat grainy or smooth; becomes soft and very juicy, with a sweet flavor resembling that of a pear. Some fruits are seedless, but normally there may be from 3 to 12 seeds which are easily removed as they are loosely held in a whorl of slots in the center of the fruit. They are brown or black, with one white margin; hard, glossy; long-oval, flat, with usually a distinct curved hook on one margin; and about 1/4 in (2 cm) long… & see

You may click to see the Sapodilla tree

Sapadilla frut


It is wind-resistant and the bark is rich in a white, gummy latex called chicle. The ornamental leaves are medium green and glossy. They are alternate, elliptic to ovate, 7-15 cm long, with an entire margin. The white flowers are inconspicuous and bell-like, with a six-lobed corolla.

Zapota tree with fruits in Tamil Nadu, India.The flavor is exceptionally sweet and very tasty, with what can be described as a malty flavor. Many believe the flavor bears a striking resemblance to caramel. The unripe fruit is hard to the touch and contains high amounts of saponin, which has astringent properties similar to tannin, drying out the mouth.

The trees can only survive in warm, typically tropical environments, dying easily if the temperature drops below freezing. From germination, the sapodilla tree will usually take anywhere from 5-8 years to bear fruit. The sapodilla trees yield fruit twice a year, though flowering may continue year round.

Sapotas on Sale at Guntur, India.In Vietnam, the most famous varieties of sapodilla is grown in Xuân ??nh village, Hanoi.

Sapodilla is a very sweet and tasty fruit; it is high in fiber, iron, and calcium. To enjoy this delicious fruit, it must be eaten as soon as it is ripe, just peel off the skin.

Cultivation is most extensive in coastal India (Maharastra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Madras and Bengal States), where plantations are estimated to cover 4,942 acres (2,000 ha), while Mexico has 3,733.5 acres (1,511 ha) devoted to the production of fruit (mainly in the states of Campeche and Veracruz) and 8,192 acres (4,000 ha) primarily for extraction of chicle  as well as many dooryard and wild trees. Commercial plantings prosper in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, the interior valleys of Palestine, as well as in various countries of South and Central America, including Venezuela and Guatemala.

Seeds remain viable for several years if kept dry. 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. Since there is great variation in the form, quality and yield of fruits from seedling trees, vegetative propagation has long been considered desirable but has been hampered by the gummy latex. In India, several methods are practiced: grafting, inarching, ground-layering and air-layering. Grafts have been successful on several rootstocks: sapodilla, Bassia latifolia, B. longifolia, Sideroxylon dulcificum and Mimusops hexandra. The last has been particularly successful, the grafts growing vigorously and fruiting heavily.

In Florida, shield-budding, cleft-grafting and side-grafting were moderately successful but too slow for large-scale production. An improved method of side-grafting was developed using year-old seedlings with stems 1/4 in (6 mm) thick. The scion (young terminal shoot) was prepared 6 weeks to several months in advance by girdling and defoliating. Just before grafting the rootstock was scored just above the grafting site and the latex “bled” for several minutes. After the stock was notched and the scion set in, it was bound with rubber and given a protective coating of wax or asphalt. The scion started growing in 30 days and the rootstock was then beheaded. Some years later, further experiments showed that better results were obtained by omitting the pre-conditioning of the scion and the bleeding of the latex. The operator must work fast and clean his knife frequently. The scions are veneer-grafted and then completely covered with plastic, allowing free gas exchange while preventing dehydration. Success is deemed most dependent on season: the 2 or 3 months of late summer and early fall.

In the Philippines, terminal shoots are completely defoliated 2 to 3 weeks before grafting onto rootstock which has been kept in partial shade for 2 months. However, inarching is there considered superior to grafting, giving a greater percentage of success. Homeowners often find air-layering easier and more successful than grafting, and air-layered trees often begin bearing within 2 years after planting.

In India, 50% success has been realized in top-working 20-year-old trees–cutting back to 3 1/2 ft (1 m) from the ground and inserting scions of superior cultivars.

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.

In the Bahamas, children bury their “dillies” in potholes in the limestone to ripen, or the fruits may be wrapped in sweaters or other thick material and put in drawers to hasten softening. Fruits picked immature will shrivel as they soften and will be of inferior quality, sometimes with small pockets of gummy latex.

In commercial groves, it is judged that when a few fruits have softened and fallen from the tree, all the full-grown fruits may be harvested for marketing. If in any doubt, the grower should cut open a few fruits to make sure the seeds are black (or very dark-brown). Pickers should use clippers or picking poles with bag and sharp notch at the peak of the metal frame to cut the fruit stem.

In India, the fruits are spread out in the shade to allow any latex at the stem end to dry before packing. The fruits ship well with minimal packing.

Food Uses:
Generally, the ripe sapodilla, unchilled or preferably chilled, is merely cut in half and the flesh is eaten with a spoon. It is an ideal dessert fruit as the skin, which is not eaten, remains firm enough to serve as a “shell”. Care must be taken not to swallow a seed, as the protruding hook might cause lodging in the throat. The flesh, of course, may be scooped out and added to fruit cups or salads. A dessert sauce is made by peeling and seeding ripe sapodillas, pressing the flesh through a colander, adding orange juice, and topping with whipped cream. Sapodilla flesh may also be blended into an egg custard mix before baking.

It was long proclaimed that the fruit could not be cooked or preserved in any way, but it is sometimes fried in Indonesia and, in Malaya, is stewed with lime juice or ginger. I found that Bahamians often crush the ripe fruits, strain, boil and preserve the juice as a sirup. They also add mashed sapodilla pulp to pancake batter and to ordinary bread mix before baking. My own experiments showed that a fine jam could be made by peeling and stewing cut-up ripe fruits in water and skimming off a green scum that rises to the surface and appears to be dissolved latex, then adding sugar to improve texture and sour orange juice and a strip of peel to offset the increased sweetness. Skimming until all latex scum is gone is the only way to avoid gumminess. Cooking with sugar changes the brown color of the flesh to a pleasing red.

One lady in Florida developed a recipe for sapodilla pie. She peeled the ripe fruits, cut them into pieces as apples are cut, and filled the raw lower crust, sprinkled 1/2 cup of raisins over the fruit, poured over evenly 1/2 cup of 50-50 lime and lemon juice to prevent the sapodilla pieces from becoming rubbery, and then sprinkled evenly 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. After covering with the top crust and making a center hole to release steam, she baked for 40 minutes at 350º F (176.67º C). In India, it has been shown that ripe fruits can be peeled and sliced, packed in metal cans, heated for 10 minutes at 158º F (70º C), then treated for 6 minutes at a vacuum of 28 in Hg, vacuum double-seamed, and irradiated with a total dose of 4 x 105 rads at room temperature. This process provides an acceptable canned product.

Ripe sapodillas have been successfully dried by pretreatment with a 60% sugar solution and osmotic dehydration for 5 hours, and the product has retained acceptable quality for 2 months.

Mr. Edward Smith of Crescent Place, Trinidad, made sapodilla wine and told me that it was very good. Young leafy shoots are eaten raw or steamed with rice in Indonesia, after washing to eliminate the sticky sap.

Food Value

Immature sapodillas are rich in tannin (proanthocyanadins) and very astringent. Ripening eliminates the tannin except for a low level remaining in the skin.

Analyses of 9 selections of sapodillas from southern Mexico showed great variation in total soluble solids, sugars and ascorbic acid content. Unfortunately, the fruits were not peeled and therefore the results show abnormal amounts of tannin contributed by the skin:

Moisture ranged from 69.0 to 75.7%; ascorbic acid from 8.9 to 41.4 mg/100 g; total acid, 0.09 to 0.15%; pH, 5.0 to 5.3; total soluble solids, 17.4º to 23.7º Brix; as for carbohydrates, glucose ranged from 5.84 to 9.23%, fructose, 4.47 to 7.13%, sucrose, 1.48 to 8.75%, total sugars, 11.14 to 20.43%, starch, 2.98 to 6.40%. Tannin content, because of the skins, varied from 3.16 to 6.45%.

Medicinal Uses:
•It is use in folk medicine as a purgative and as remedy for diarrhea
. It is prepared by boiling the young fruits and the decoction is taken to stop diarrhea.
•A decoction of the yellowed leaves is drunk as a remedy for coughs, colds and diarrhea.
•A liquid extracted from crushed seeds is used as diuretic and is found to be effective in removing kidney and bladder stones.
•A paste made from the seeds is useful for treating venomous stings and bites.
•An infusion of the young fruits and the flowers is drunk to relieve pulmonary complaints.
•A fluid extract from the crushed seeds is used as a sedative.
•A combined decoction of sapodilla and chayote leaves is sweetened and taken daily to lower blood pressure.
•The latex is used in the tropics as a crude filling for tooth cavities.

Other Uses:
•The bark of sapodilla tree is rich in white, gummy latex called chicle (contains 15% rubber and 38% resin). This milky sap is the main ingredient in the manufacture of chewing gum which gives the tree its main importance there.
•The sapodilla tree is valued for its hard, heavy and durable wood which is use for building homes and furniture, tool handles, carts, etc.
•It has a high tannin content which makes it useful as a source of dyes.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider .


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