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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Black Sapote: The Chocolate Pudding Fruit

Jan 31, 2011 11:32AM ● By Beth Davis

A fruit that looks and tastes like creamy chocolate may seem too good to be true, but just one bite of the rich, dark-brown flesh of the black sapote can convince even the most ardent chocoholics.

Black sapote (pronounced suh-po-tee, accenting the middle syllable), or black persimmon, is a species of persimmon native to eastern Mexico and Central America. Commonly known as the “chocolate pudding fruit,” it resembles a large, round green tomato on the outside and varies in size from two to five inches in diameter. Its pulp is custard-like, with a sweet, mild flavor that tastes somewhat like chocolate pudding; thus, its nickname.

Local nursery owner Frank DeNardis says the sapote is an evergreen tree that is easy to grow in Southwest Florida. His 1.25-acre property in North Naples includes mature trees and many small plants, which he offers for sale. DeNardis says that sapotes ripen during the winter months, December through April, and the trees bear a lot of fruit—so much that he and his wife, Mary, can’t keep up with it all. Luckily for chocolate lovers, DeNardis has been selling the fruit at the local farmers’ market held on Saturdays at the Vanderbilt Galleria. Although not his all patrons are familiar with the fruit, DeNardis says, “Once people taste it, they love it and want more.”

According to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Environmental Sciences (IFAS) extension office, sapote trees can grow to more than 80 feet, although they can be kept small and will bear fruit at just a few feet tall. The trees are not too particular about soil and nutrient support, but are susceptible to cold temperatures. Full-grown trees, however, can survive to 28°F.

The green fruit is picked when hard and should be allowed to soften and turn brown, which usually takes three to six days, before being eaten. Fully ripe sapotes have a soft, wrinkled appearance. “You should be able to press the skin with your fingers and leave an indent when it’s ripe,” explains DeNardis. The pulp will be soft and custard-like at this stage, and black in appearance.

Rather than try to peel the whole fruit, DeNardis advises people to simply cut the top off and then scoop out the fruit from inside to savor the chocolatey, mousse-like treat. “You really don’t feel like you’re eating fruit,” he laughs. “It’s guilt-free chocolate!”

It’s healthy, too. IFAS extension agents report that sapotes are low in fat, a good source of vitamin C and potassium, and contain a fair amount of vitamin A and smaller amounts of other vitamins and minerals.

DeNardis says the ripe fruit will keep for three to five days if stored unwashed in a plastic or paper bag in the refrigerator. For longer storage, the pulp should be frozen.

Black sapotes taste delicious raw, but can also be used as a chocolate substitute in recipes. The pulp is often pureed with a little orange zest and juice or vanilla, which becomes the basic ingredient for other preparations such as mousse. It can also be blended with milk, cream or ice cream to create a sweet chocolate indulgence, without the caffeine or calories.

For more info or to make an appointment to visit Frank DeNardis’ nursery, located at 108 Viking Way, in Palm River Estates, call 239-597-8359.


Orange Chocolate Shake
In blender:
2 cups fresh-squeezed OJ
3 black sapotes
1 or more tsp ground cocoa (optional)
agave nectar or honey to taste

Orange Chocolate Pudding
1 cup fresh-squeezed OJ
3 black sapotes
1 tsp cocoa
agave nectar or honey to taste

Blueberry Chocolate Pudding
1 cup fresh blueberries
3 black sapotes
½ cup almond milk
agave nectar or honey to taste

Papayas and strawberries and bananas are also great with sapotes. Sapotes are so delicious you can eat them alone too – one right after another.

1. Remove stems from sapotes.
2. Cut the sapote in half. You will see a dark brown, thick pulp. Inside are almond shaped seeds – remove these. Scoop out the pulp with a spoon. Some people remove the green skin of the sapote with their fingers but I prefer cutting in half and scooping with a spoon. The skin is thin so you need to scoop gently.

Recipes submitted by local raw foodist Marianne Luch.

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