Friday, 25 January 2013

Chiku (Achras sapota, Manilkara zapota)

Commonly known for its Malay name the Chiku, this fruit is native to southern Mexco, Central America and the Caribbean.

Chiku comes from a medium-sized evergreen tree that grows upright with a dense, pyramidal crown. The bark of the tree is produces a white, gummy latex substance called chicle. The alternate leaves are thick and glossy green and about 7 to 15cm long. The white flowers that are borne at the leaf bases are are small and inconspicuous with a bell-like shape.

The chiku fruit is a large berry, about 4 to 8cm in diameter. The skin is a dull brown to grey colour that is slightly rough, while the colour of the flesh ranges from pale yellow to earthy brown. The flesh of the chiku has a grainy texture. Each fruit contains about 2 to 5 hard black seeds that have a hook on one end. The fruits have high latex content and does not ripen until after picking. Due to the high amounts of saponin in the unripe fruit, it is hard and has astringent properties that dry out the mouth when consumed. Chikus are generally moist and sweet with a malty flavour and eaten fresh.

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