Black Sapote is a fruity chocolate treat

December 19, 2018

Who needs figgy pudding when you can have chocolate pudding? One of America's favorite desserts, chocolate pudding is mentioned as far back as 1730. We even have National Chocolate Pudding Day (June 26). And there just happens to be a remarkable plant that ripens around December with fruits that taste remarkably like chocolate pudding, Black Sapote (Diospyros nigra).

Black Sapote is justly known as Chocolate Pudding Fruit. This Persimmon relative is mouth puckering astringent until it ripens from bright green to nearly black, and the flesh becomes for all the world, a bowl of chocolate pudding.

Even though it is a tropical tree, it easily fruits indoors even in a container as small as a 10-inch pot. The plant will bloom and set fruits that are around 3 inches across. Let the fruit fully ripen on the tree, going from green to black.

For best results, give your Black Sapote full sun. Use a good all-purpose potting soil that drains easily. Apply a good organic liquid fertilizer while the plant is actively growing from spring through early summer. After each harvest, cut back the top branches.

If possible look for grafted plants because they tend to bloom and set fruits sooner than seed-grown plants. That said, you can grow your own Black Sapote trees easily from seeds. Almost all Black Sapote varieties are self-fertile, so you can save your own seeds to plant. Expect your seed-grown tree to bloom in five to six years.

Every two or three years you will want to repot your Black Sapote. Always repot it into a pot that is one size bigger. Black Sapote cannot tolerate long periods of drought, so water it regularly. Because it is naturally resistant to damp soils, it is OK to keep the soil slightly moist at all times. When you do water it, make sure you pour enough water in so that it leaks out of the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot.

Once your Black Sapote is established for a few years you may be surprised at how many fruits it yields. Pick the fruit after it turns deep black. To test if the fruit is ripe, gently press the skin with your fingers, and if it leaves a slight indent, the fruit is ripe. Slice the ripe fruit in half and spoon out a creamy vegetarian chocolate custard. The low-fat fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, with about four times as much vitamin C as an orange.

You can puree Black Sapote, and add it to baked goods such as breads, cookies and cakes. Use it wherever you might use chocolate pudding such as pie filling. You can even add it to smoothies. Or best of all, pour the mashed fruit over vanilla ice cream, topped with spiced rum and maple syrup.

When it comes to chocolate pudding, nothing is excessive.

  • Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P. O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.

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