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 potato.

Where Can You Get This Crazy Fruit?

Ripening Canistel
                        Pile At The Market

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 periods.

How To Eat It

Just like almost every other fruit, people often try to eat canistel when it's woefully unripe.

Canistel Cut Up FruitAn 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 fruit. 

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 Considerations

Eggfruit is 60.6 percent water, and just like other dryer fruits like bananas and dates, as well as the canistel's cousins sapodilla and mamey 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 a healthy 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.

(100 grams,
edible portion)

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 it.).

Maybe thinking of it more like a gruel you'd eat with a spoon works better.

Following Up:

Definitely try to track down some eggfruit on your next trip to a warm climate.

Incorporate canistel into a healthy raw food diet.

Check out other awesome fruit.

Figure out what foods are healthy and unhealthy.

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