One of Earth’s Countless Regional Treasures Waiting to Be Discovered
A fruit that tastes like chocolate? That may sound like wishful thinking, but there’s a real fruit that fulfills the sweet tooth. Called the black sapote (diospyros nigra), this tropical fruit is often eaten raw or used in decadent desserts. Not only does it taste good, it’s also packed with nutrition. Here’s the scoop on this fantastical fruit.
Where Does the Black Sapote Grow?
Sapote is indigenous to Mexico and Central America, where it was cultivated by the Aztecs and other indigenous people. It was later spread to other areas of the world. Now, the black sapote fruit tree grows in damp tropical regions of North America, Latin America, the Philippines, Moluccas Islands, and Sulawesi Island.
Black sapote is a relative of the persimmon, a common tree in Asia, North America, and Europe. Large black sapote trees can produce hundreds of pounds of fruit per year.
There are various varieties of black sapote that vary slightly in size and amount of seeds. Some varieties include Merida (Reineke), Bernicker, Mossman, Cocktail, Maher, Ricks Late, and Superb.
What Does the Black Sapote Look Like?
The black sapote isn’t really black. When young, the fruit is a bright green with orangy pulp. As the black sapote matures, it becomes very soft and turns a dark olive green or a chocolatey brown. It might look like it’s completely rotten, but it’s perfectly ripe at this point.
Black sapote is also called the chocolate pudding fruit and for a good reason. When the fruit is sliced in half, it looks like a bowl of pudding with long seeds in the center.
What Does Black Sapote Taste Like?
The taste of the black sapote isn’t exactly how it looks, though. It’s creamy, but its texture isn't quite like a real pudding. The pulp is almost like a cross between a pudding and a jelly.
The flavor varies by taste. Some people say it tastes like chocolate. Others say it tastes more like caramel or a sweet squash. Most agree it isn’t overwhelmingly sweet.
Black sapote tastes best when ripe and fresh from the tree; it dries out quickly once peeled and stored in a cool place but will keep for several weeks at room temperature—assuming it isn’t eaten all at once!
Black sapote doesn’t need much prep time. It is eaten by scooping out the insides with a spoon and eating it plain. Some people like to squirt the fruit with lemon juice. In Mexico, people mix orange juice with the pulp and serve it as a dessert.
Black Sapote Recipes
Of course, there are many recipes for this versatile fruit. It can be used to make pies, ice cream, cakes, shakes, and much more. Here are two recipes to make at home.
Black Sapote Pudding
1 soft ripe sapote
2-3 diced dates
3 or 4 tbs cocoa powder
1 banana, cut into chunks
1 tbsp honey
8 tbsp coconut milk
Blend all of the ingredients until smooth and serve in a bowl. Top with chopped nuts, grated coconut, or whipped cream.
Black Sapote Fruit Smoothie
2 black sapote fruits (skinned and de-seeded)
1 cup water
1 cup strawberries or strawberries and blueberries
2 cups ice cubes
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
Dash of ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Dash of ground nutmeg (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend well. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. This makes a nice refreshing drink on cool days, but it is also delicious served warm as a dessert!
Black Sapote Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
Besides tasting good, black sapote is nutritious. It packs fiber, vitamins, and minerals and it is low-calorie.
One black sapote fruit provides around 10% of the daily value for iron. It’s also a good source of both vitamin C, calcium, and vitamin A, and contains a moderate amount of potassium.
These nutrients all come together to make the black sapote a rich source of antioxidants, which are proven to help prevent cancer. Black sapotes are also a good source of protein, with about two grams of protein per fruit. The majority of the black sapote’s nutritional value comes from its high fiber content, coming in at a whopping fifteen grams of fiber. All of this nutritional goodness comes with only five grams of sugar and around 100 calories.
That’s not all. Its non-edible parts, the peel and seeds, are currently being researched to make into potential medicines because of their antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
How Can I Purchase Black Sapote?
Grocery stores don’t carry the black sapote because it doesn’t have a very long shelf life. The best bet to try this fruit is to travel to an area where it is grown and buy it from a local fruit stand or farmer’s market. Some online exotic fruit sellers will mail unripe black sapote fruit.
It is also possible to grow it at home in some climates. However, black sapotes are tropical fruit, so they don’t grow very well in temperate regions.
Eating black sapote is a great way to try something new and enjoy a popular food from a tropical region. While it may be a little difficult to find, the uniqueness of this fruit makes the struggle well worth it.
*Alina Bradford is a safety and security expert that has contributed to CBS, MTV, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, and more. She is currently the editorial lead at SafeWise.com.
University of Florida, “Black Sapote Growing in the Florida Home Landscape.” Accessed September 16, 2022.
MyFitnessPal, “Black Sapote Raw.” Accessed September 16, 2022.
Elhadi M. Yahia, Fabiola Gutierrez-Orozco, Claudia Arvizu-de Leon, Food Research International, Volume 44, Issue 7, “Phytochemical and antioxidant characterization of the fruit of black sapote (Diospyros digyna Jacq.).” Accessed September 16, 2022.