Sapodilla or Manilkara Zapota is originally a native fruit to Central America, that has been spread around the world by the Spanish. This caramel sweet soft fruit can easily be mistaken for a kiwi fruit due to its coarse brown skin. It is also a well known fruit in the Philippines as chico, Indonesia as sawo manila, Malaysia as ciku, India as chikoo or sapota, and various South and Central American regions in their respective dialects.
In Australia, different variants are grown in sub-tropical Darwin, and tropical Far North Queensland. However, its local harvest tends to be scarely available. When it is, only a few cartons of unmarked mix varieties can be found in the wholesale market usually bid upon by select Asian grocers.
WHEN TO EAT
Australian-grown sapodilla tends to be picked mature (not tree-ripened) while it is quite hard, as it requires shipping via road transport over 2-4 days. Hence, they need about 7-14 days to properly ripen.
It is not recommended to be eaten while unripe, as it will have a latex-gummy texture, and very astringent flavour.
Ripen sapodilla at warm room temperature. You can identify when the fruit ripe by scratching its flaky skin surface - if the underneath is still rather grean, it is not yet ready. If it is brown, begins to yield to the touch, it is almost ready to eat. You will want it to be almost soft but firm all over to enjoy its fully ripe sweet flavour.
A well-ripened sapodilla will reward your tastebuds with a caramel-like sweetness, with a soft but grainy pear-like texture.
HOW TO EAT
The sapodilla can be enjoyed fresh when ripe. Peeled then sliced, or just sliced with its skin on. However the gritty skin is not edible.
Overripe sapodilla can also be made into a fruit shake, ice-cream/gelato or sorbet, and cake.