Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota) is a tropical tree originally from Southern Mexico, and parts of Central America. The name comes from the Nahuatl word tzapotl, adopted in Spanish as zapote; the name is used for a number of similar soft fruits, such as zapote negro (black), mamey (mamey sapote), and in this case, chico zapote (sapodilla). During Spanish rule, sapodilla trees were brought to the Philippines, and from there, cultivation expanded to other Asian countries, namely, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia. The fruit, seen in the photo at the top of this post in variable stages of ripeness, is considered a berry, about two inches (5 cm) in diameter, with one to six hard, dark seeds inside; when fully ripen, the taste is very sweet, unique and mild, perhaps a little like caramel. The pulp is light reddish-brown in colour, with a slightly raspy texture, similar to that of a soft pear:
Chico zapote was one of my favourite fruits when I was growing up in Mexico, but in later years, it became difficult to find fresh in stores, and I had to be content with the occasional scoop of chico zapote sorbet at the neighbourhood ice cream parlour, as I have mentioned before (also see photos at the end of this post). I was very surprised when I spotted a small pile of them at a local supermarket, here in Southern Ontario, Canada. It was labelled as “chikoo”, as it is known in India (the place of origin of that batch, as well). They were firm when I bought them, so I had to wait a couple of days, until they became soft to the touch, indicating that they were fully ripened. I ate a couple of them (yummy), then processed the rest to prepare a batch of sorbet. The sorbet may be prepared as a traditional nieve de garrafa, in an ice cream maker, or as I did for this recipe, the fruit and other ingredients may be chilled beforehand, and then just finished in a blender.
Blender Sapodilla Sorbet –
Nieve de chico zapote en licuadora
7-8 sapodilla berries (chico zapote, chikoo); fully ripened, and washed
¼ cup sugar
½ cup water
Mix sugar and water in a bowl until sugar dissolves; reserve this syrup in the fridge to keep cold.
Slice sapodilla berries in half, then use a spoon or fork to scoop the flesh from one half at a time, into a bowl, discarding seeds and skin (photo below, left). Continue with the rest of the fruit, to collect about one cup of pulp (photo below, right):
Place bowl with fruit in the freezer for at least two hours, or up to overnight.
Pour reserved syrup in a blender jar, then add frozen fruit; pulse a few times to loosen up the frozen fruit (photo below, left). Continue blending until all the fruit and syrup are incorporated (photo below, right):
The resulting mix will be smooth, and somewhat cold, but runny:
Cover and place in the freezer for a couple of hours, until it is firm enough to scoop:
This was a very refreshing and light treat, and for me, it provided a soothing feeling, bringing back images of my favourite ice cream parlour in Mexico City, entrenched in the memories from my youth:
I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #558, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.