|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Manilkara zapota, commonly known as the sapodilla, is a long-lived, evergreen tree.|
Sapodilla can grow to more than 30 m (98 ft) tall with an average trunk diameter of 1.5 m (4.9 ft). The average height of cultivated specimens, however, is usually between 9 to 15 m (30 to 49 ft) with a trunk diameter not exceeding 50 cm (20 in). It is wind-resistant and the bark is rich in a white, gummy latex called chicle. The ornamental leaves are medium green and glossy. They are alternate, elliptic to ovate, 7–15 cm long, with an entire margin. The white flowers are inconspicuous and bell-like, with a six-lobed corolla.
The fruit is a large ellipsoid berry, 4–8 cm in diameter, very much resembling a smooth-skinned potato and containing two to five seeds. Inside, its flesh ranges from a pale yellow to an earthy brown color with a grainy texture akin to that of a well-ripened pear. The seeds are black and resemble beans, with a hook at one end that can catch in the throat if swallowed. The fruit has a high latex content and does not ripen until picked.
The fruit has an exceptionally sweet malty flavor. Many believe the flavor bears a striking resemblance to caramel. The unripe fruit is hard to the touch and contains high amounts of saponin, which has astringent properties similar to tannin, drying out the mouth.
The trees can only survive in warm, typically tropical environments, dying easily if the temperature drops below freezing. From germination, the sapodilla tree will usually take anywhere from 5–8 years to bear fruit. The sapodilla trees yield fruit twice a year, though flowering may continue year round.
We eat this fruit a lot in India. In Bengali we call it “Sobeda” or “Sofeda” and I just love it. The sandy texture and the strong flavour that I enjoy most.
It contains four or so inedible seeds, and the flesh is a strange brown colour. The texture is slightly sandy – rather like an over-ripe pear – and the taste is sweet with a slight hint of acid. It also has a distinctive smell, rather fermented. Some say it smells like malt, but I think it smells like liquor.
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