Bite into a
tasty ripe canistel for the first time and you'll
probably be in for a surprise.
The majority of the world's fruits are juicy like
peaches and watermelons,
and even the dryer ones like bananas are still
fairly soft and easy to chew, but canistel is in a
class with just a few other dryer fruits that
provide a completely different eating experience.
Its consistency is extremely chewy, almost
chalky, and little bits can stick to your teeth.
The taste is somewhat musky, and I'd describe the
flavor as a more intense version of a sweet
Where Can You Get
This Crazy Fruit?
Canistel, which is nicknamed
the eggfruit and known as pouteria
campechiana baehni in scientific classifications,
originated in the dry subtropics of Southern
Mexico as well as tropical areas of Belize,
Guatemala, and El Salvador. It seems to have been
a wild food of the native Americans for thousands
of years, but it was only domesticated for farming
in the 1920s. Today it's grown far more widely,
much to our benefit.
As I've traveled through Southeast Asia I've
bumped into it in almost every country. Although
the main cultivars in Asia have a slightly curving
apex, in Florida I sampled types which were nearly
round, ovoid, or spindly. I've never heard of it
surviving to fruiting age in southern California,
but it may be possible if warm microclimates are
created to accommodate it.
In the warmer areas of the South and Central
America you can still find it growing wild on
trees up to 25 feet tall, but sometimes the trees
are shrunken and appear to be big shrubs.
If you visit a Florida farmer's market south of
Palm Beach and Punta Gorda you may be able to find
some to try. The harvest season in Florida
typically begins sometime in November or December
and goes through late February or March.
Farmers in southeast Asia and central and south
America also grow it, with varying harvest
An eggfruit is green
skinned and hard as a rock when unripe, and it
doesn't reach its peak of flavor and digestibility
until the skin is totally lemony yellow (sometimes
a dark orange) and gives easily to thumb pressure.
With some cultivars the best taste is gotten when
the skin is practically sloshing off it. Just be
aware that bruised fruit or unbruised fruit left
to ripen in poorly-ventilated conditions can
easily start to go bad as it ripens. Due to the
dryer nature of the fruit, though, spoiling is
generally restricted to only part of the
Even the ripest eggfruit is mealy throughout, and
the flesh seems to get softer and more pasty the
closer to the center of the fruit you get. The
name eggfruit comes from many people
commenting that the consistency is similar to the
yoke of a hard-boiled egg. Some of the cultivars
are also ovular and look like eggs.
At the center you'll also find at least one seed
that can be up to a quarter inch wide, but I've
seen up to four in a single fruit.
The Raw Food
Eggfruit is 60.6 percent water, and just like
other dryer fruits like bananas and dates, as well
as the canistel's cousins sapodilla
sapote, it's calorically rich as a result.
This makes it a possible staple choice for those
concerned about not getting in enough calories on
fruit-based raw food diet if they happen to
live in an area where they grow in abundance.
Check out the chart below to see how it compares
to other fruits.
Because it's so dry,
though, you'll probably need to take in a bit more
water as a result. Just like how dates blended
with various amounts of water makes a delicious
drink, "datorade", canistel does as well
(Eggorade? Canorade? Doesn't have the ring ring to
Maybe thinking of it more like a gruel you'd eat
with a spoon works better.
Definitely try to
track down some eggfruit on your next trip to
a warm climate.
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