Chico fruit
3 mins read

Chico fruit

Introduction

Chico fruit, also known as Sapodilla, is a tropical fruit native to the Americas. It belongs to the family Sapindaceae and is scientifically known as Manilkara zapota. The fruit has been a staple in many cultures for centuries, and its unique flavor and nutritional benefits have made it a popular choice among fruit enthusiasts.

Etymology

The name “Chico” is derived from the Nahuatl language, spoken by the Aztecs, in which it is called “tzicoztli”. The Spanish conquistadors adopted the name and modified it to “Chico”. The name “Sapodilla” is derived from the Spanish word “zapote”, which refers to the fruit’s soft and sweet pulp.

Description

Chico fruit is a small to medium-sized fruit, typically round or oval in shape, with a brown or yellowish-brown skin. The flesh is soft, juicy, and sweet, with a flavor that is often described as a combination of pears, brown sugar, and cinnamon. The fruit contains several black seeds that are inedible.

Taxonomy and Cultivars

Chico fruit belongs to the genus Manilkara, which includes several other species of tropical fruits. There are several cultivars of Chico fruit, including:

CultivarDescription
‘Prolific’High-yielding variety with large fruit
‘Tikal’Variety with small to medium-sized fruit
‘Oro’Variety with yellowish-brown skin and sweet pulp

Distribution and Habitat

Chico fruit is native to the tropical regions of Central and South America, including Mexico, Costa Rica, and Ecuador. It is also cultivated in other tropical regions, including Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. The fruit prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade.

Cultivation

Chico fruit is typically propagated through seed or grafting. The tree requires regular pruning to maintain its shape and promote fruiting. It is a relatively low-maintenance crop, but requires protection from pests and diseases.

Production and Uses

Chico fruit is widely consumed fresh, used in jams and preserves, and made into a sweet, milky beverage. It is also used in traditional medicine in many cultures.

CountryProduction (tons)
Mexico150,000
Costa Rica50,000
Ecuador30,000

Phytochemistry

Chico fruit contains several bioactive compounds, including:

  • Saponins
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenolic acids
  • Terpenoids

These compounds have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

Flavor

The flavor of Chico fruit is often described as sweet and malty, with hints of vanilla and caramel. The flavor is influenced by the ripeness of the fruit, with riper fruit having a sweeter and more intense flavor.

Toxicity

Chico fruit contains a toxic compound called saponin, which can cause gastrointestinal irritation if consumed in large quantities.

Nutrition

Chico fruit is a good source of:

  • Fiber
  • Vitamins A and C
  • Potassium
  • Antioxidants
NutrientAmount (per 100g)
Fiber4.4g
Vitamin A10.4mg
Vitamin C30.4mg
Potassium440mg

Culture

Chico fruit has played an important role in many cultures for centuries. In Mexico, it is considered a symbol of good luck and prosperity. In Costa Rica, it is used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments.

“The Chico fruit is a gift from the gods, its sweet flavor and soft flesh a reminder of the beauty and bounty of nature.” – Mexican proverb

In conclusion, Chico fruit is a unique and flavorful fruit that has been a staple in many cultures for centuries. Its nutritional benefits, phytochemical properties, and cultural significance make it a fruit worth exploring