Canistel/ Yellow Sapote – Pouteria campechiana

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The canistel (Pouteria campechiana) is an evergreen tree native to southern Mexico and Central America. It is cultivated in other countries, such as Brazil, Taiwan, and Vietnam for its fruit.

The canistel grows up to 10 meters high, and produces orange-yellow fruit, also called yellow sapote, up to 7 centimeters long, which are edible raw. Canistel flesh is sweet, with a texture often compared to that of a cooked egg yolk, hence its colloquial name of “eggfruit.” It is closely related to the Mamey sapote and abiu.

The canistel displays climacteric fruit ripening. A fully mature fruit shows an intense yellow skin colour. It will eventually soften and drop from the tree. Surprisingly, the fruit flesh remains untouched by insects or birds, perhaps because of astringent principles, that are much reduced in senescent fruits, but still perceptible to the human palate. Apparently mature fruits severed from the tree while still hard often fail to develop the desired climacteric changes in terms of reduced astringency and a texture reminiscent of egg yolk. This and the fact that climacteric fruits quickly start to decay at ambient temperatures may have contributed to the low economic importance of the canistel, a fruit species that many regard as delicious, and easy to process.

As the related lucuma the canistel can be eaten out of hand. The fruit flesh blended with milk yields an attractive creamy shake or a more viscous, custard-like, mildly sweet and aromatic dessert.