The chikoo is a brown, unassuming fruit that doesn’t have the color and flair of a dragonfruit or the cuteness of a cucamelon. From a distance, they look a cross between a kiwi and a potato, with their oval shape and mud-brown skin. But just because they won’t win any beauty contests, does that mean we shouldn’t eat them? In this article, we’re going to take a close look at what a chikoo tastes like and if they’re worth your money.
Describing the taste of chikoo
Chikoos have a sweet, malty flavor with a mild pear-like undertone. Their flesh is yellowish-brown in color with streaks of orange when fully ripe. It has a soft, pulpy texture that is juicy and also slightly gritty, although not unpleasantly so. A chikoo’s sweet aroma is best compared to cooked squash.
The other parts of a chikoo fruit are the skin and the seeds. The brown skin is fuzzy and very thin; although edible, it is easy to peel off and most prefer not to eat it. All these fruits will have 2-3 large black seeds with a tiny hook on them. The seeds should never be consumed as the hooks can catch on the throat and act as a choking hazard. Also, they don’t taste good so you’re not missing out on anything.
It is essential that a chikoo is given time to fully ripen. The flesh develops into a soft, sweet pulp with hints of brown sugar. This is in stark contrast to an unripe, or even partially ripe chikoo. They are high in saponin, making them unpleasantly astringent, leaving the mouth dry. If you’ve ever eaten unripe pineapple you’ll know the sensation.
Quick tip: When eating the fruits on their own, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to further enhance their flavor.
The fresh chikoo is an excellent fruit for eating on its own. For most other types of fruit, soft and wrinkled skin is a warning they’ve expired. But for the chikoo, this is a sign that they're ready to eat, a lot like hachiya persimmons.
To be 100% confident they're ripe, lightly scratch off a patch of the skin’s fuzz. The skin should be brown and a little soft when poked; if it is green then continue to ripen the fruit. Once the fruit is ripe, slice the fruit in half and remove the seeds, then scoop out the rich-tasting flesh with a spoon.
Other popular uses for chikoos are the following:
- Add to your favorite shake or smoothie recipe, or simply juice it.
- Blend the fruit and use it in a cheesecake, tart, or pudding.
- Dry the fruit and use as a snack or in cereals.
- Scoop the flesh into garden salads for a little sweetness.
- Churn with milk, cream, and eggs for smooth ice cream.
Chikoo shake recipe
If the season’s hot or you’ve just finished a workout, this is an ideal recipe for cooling down.
- 5 chikoos, peeled, deseeded and chopped
- 1 banana
- 3 cups whole milk
- ½ cup greek yogurt
- 3 ice cubes, to serve
- Add the chikoos, banana, milk, and yogurt to a blender and process until the ingredients are well combined.
- Pour into tall glasses and serve immediately with ice cubes.
Store chikoos in a plastic bag in the fridge for 7-10 days or scoop out the ripened flesh and freeze for up to one month. Fruits that are left out at room temperature will continue to ripen.
The chikoo is packed with A, C, and E, as well as fiber and antioxidants. From one fruit, you’ll also get 10% of the daily recommended intake of iron. It also contains 73 calories, 15g of carbohydrates, and 1g of fat. Source.
Fast facts about the chikoo
- Alternative names for the chikoo include sapote, naseberry, sapodilla, sofeda, sawo, and Manilkara zapota.
- They have high levels of sucrose and fructose, making them a relatively sweet fruit.
- The fruits are produced on evergreen trees that are known to grow up to 100 feet high.
- The tree is native to Mexico but is now grown in various warm climates including Central America, India, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and Florida.
- Sap, called chicle, is produced from the bark and has many uses, including making chewing gum.
- The wood from the tree gives off incense fragrance when burned.
Chikoo, or sapodilla, is a pleasant tasting tropical fruit that is unlikely to offend most eaters. Its sweet malty flavor isn’t overwhelming and there are no awkward aromas like some other tropical fruit. The secret to enjoying a chikoo is eating it when it is full ripened; any earlier and the astringent tannin-like properties will taste awful. Have you experienced this sensation on your tongue, when eating an unripe pineapple? It dries the mouth and causes your taste buds to go into meltdown. The chikoo is even more intense, so be warned.
Like many tropical fruits, the chikoo is perfect for desserts. Its flavor is delicious in ice cream, tarts, pies, and practically anything else that’s sweet. So if you’re trying to decide whether to eat chikoo for the first time, then it’s definitely worth a try. It may not turn out to be your favorite fruit, but it's unlikely to be your worst either.
What is your favorite tropical fruit? Please share with us in the comments below.