Chiku: Summer Yumminess

By Kamala Das

I’m fond of exotic things. At the Ashram last week, a teacher handed me a brown kiwi looking fruit called a chiku, pronounced “cheekoo”. It was a odd little  fellow with a malty brown sugary succulence, and an inner texture liken to a ripe pear.  I found out later that it is called a Manikara zapota, or Sapodilla and is a very special evergreen tree.

In the past, these “trees were known   the source of chicle, the elastic gum which is made from the latex of the bark and which was the main ingredient of chewing-gum. They are native to Mexio, Central America and the Caribbean, but are also propagated in India and Pakistan.  “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” (Wikipedia)

Inside my fruit, was four seeds. I took these and am trying to sprout them. It takes a long time for the cotyledons to break out of the seed cases and then they grow very slowly for 18 months, then Considering the length of time it takes for them to grow, If I can just get them started, I’ll transfer them into a used paint bucket and gift them to a local family with a back yard. They provide ample shade once grown and plenty of carbohydrate, saponins, tannins, and  vitamin A an C.  Sapodilla is also rich in minerals including copper, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and calcium and electrolytes including sodium and potassium, trace amounts of protein and the bark contains latex! Yes latex. It’s used to alleviate diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and constipation and boosts digestive enzyme content.  Syrup made from the Sapodilla fruit is also an expectorant. From what I hear, almost all Chikus are grown organically!  Though this tree will grow in poor soils.

I’ve heard that a puree of them in ghee can be used for halwa. Mmmm. Chicku halwa!!!!  Now thats something I have to find!

If you have some cool facts about Chiku, or Sapodilla…send them to me! I would love to know more about this fascinating fruit!

Pick up a chiku instead of a Snickers and act naturally! – KV

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