Compared to the vibrant, showy reds, yellows and greens of most tropical fruits seen at a Jamaican fruit stall, the drab, leathery naseberry appears very uninteresting. However, once open, the subtle colours of the juicy flesh, ranging from tan, tinges of green, reddish brown and beautiful apricot are hard to resist. The texture is slightly grainy though velvety. The unique flavour reminds me of malt, caramel and dates. It has a hint of spice and an exceptional honey sweetness! In fact, it could be called the honey fruit. When in season, naseberries are never overlooked.
Native to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, Manilkara Zapota is grown in other parts of the world and known by several names including Sapodilla, Sapote, Chico, Chicle, Nispero and Chikoo. In Jamaica, it is spelt Naseberry and affectionately called Neeseberry! Clusters of oval and pointy or perfectly round fruit hang on tall, shady evergreen trees and are in season from February through May. They are usually picked when fit and put to ripen. The fruit is nearly ready when there is a bit of give when gently pressed. Leave for another day or two to soften. The fruit including the skin is reputed to be an immune and energy booster containing important antioxidants, minerals and vitamins such as C and E and a good source of fibre which aids in digestion.
The natural honey sweetness and creamy texture of naseberries are perfect for sweet treats such as ice creams and puddings. However, it is the contrast of the sweet fruit in a savoury dish that I find exciting and so I am sharing a favourite from my cookbook: Seared Naseberries with Greens, Goat's Cheese and Walnuts. Earthy, bitter greens like arugula, frisee, and dandelion pair especially well with the intense natural sweetness of naseberry. For dessert, try my easy Vegan Naseberry No Churn Coconut Ice-Cream. The garnish of fennel flowers adds a bright liquorice flavour that complements the naseberry. And for hot days, try the cooling Nutty Naseberry, Chocolate Popsicle. Enjoy!
– Donna Noble, set decorator, food stylist, and author of My Goodness! Greens Cookbook
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