My mercancia, Rita, who stops by several times a week with buckets of fresh goodies recently had a number of caimitos (pronounced “kai-mee-toe,” with an emphasis on the “mee”). I bought several so that I could tell you about them.
Caimitos are relatives of Sapotes. The skins are tough and the colors range from green to purple. The pulp is white to purple, soft, and milky surrounding several glossy dark seeds. When the fruit is cut in half between the stem and end the seeds are seen to radiate outwardly from the center, producing a star-shaped pattern (which I unfortunately don’t show, and que lastima, we’ve already eaten the caimitos).
Do not bite directly into a caimito as the skin contains an unpleasant latex; The white sappy latex is will make your lips sticky or gummy, like tacky glue. The tacky coating will go away after a few lip smacks. Select a fruit that is a bit soft for best flavor. When still a bit on the firm or under-ripe side there is a drying alum property that I personally don’t appreciate. I typically slice them in half, between stem and end and scoop out the soft pulp with a spoon, discarding the seeds.
Another way to serve the fruit is to cut around the middle, or score the skin completely, then holding the fruit stem-end down, twisting or squeezing the top gently, the flesh will be felt to free itself, and should pull away.
In trying to describe the flavor I am unsuccessful to come up with a common taste comparison, except perhaps slightly like a grape, but not as sweet. A caimito tastes like a caimito. Generally the fruit is eaten fresh, although it may be an ingredient in fruit salads and sorbets. Mixing the cut up fruit with sour orange juice is quite refreshing. Caimito’s are nutritious, containing moderate amounts of calcium, phosphorus, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and are a good source of anti-oxidants..
Chrysophyllum cainito is a tropical tree of the family Sapotaceae, native to the lowlands of Central America and the West Indies. It grows rapidly and reaches 20 m in height.
It has numerous common names including cainito, caimito, star apple, golden leaf tree, abiaba, pomme du lait, estrella, milk fruit and aguay. It is also known by the synonym Achras cainito.
The leaves are evergreen, alternate, simple oval, entire, 5-15 cm long; the underside shines with a golden color when seen from a distance. The tiny flowers are purplish white and have a sweet fragrant smell. The tree is also hermaphroditic (self-fertile).