© Denzil Green
Black Sapote is a tomato-shaped fruit that can be anywhere from 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) wide.
The smooth, thick skin of the fruit starts off a shiny bright-green on the trees, ripening to olive-green and then to a brownish, olive-green colour. Inside, the colour of the flesh will vary from yellow to brownish to chocolate-brown. The flesh is soft and somewhat jelly-like, with a sweet, mild flavour.
Though a few varieties are seedless, most Black Sapotes will have 1 to 12 flat, smooth, shiny seeds that are from 3/4 inch to 1 inch long (2 to 2.5 cm.)
The Black Sapote tree grows up to 80 feet tall (25 metres), with a trunk up to 30 inches (75 cm) wide covered with black bark. An evergreen, it has very long leaves, anywhere from 4 to 12 inches (10 to 30 cm) long. It blossoms with white flowers before producing the fruit. The tree will grow true to seed.
Black Sapote is grown in Mexico, the Caribbean, and in Hawaii. The tree won’t grow in California, as it gets too cold there, but it will grow in southern Florida.
The fruit is shipped unripe for safer handling, because when fully ripe it is too soft to ship.
Black Sapote is not related at all to the fruit called “White Sapote” or “Sapote”, despite its name. It is, though, closely related to Persimmons.
In Mexico, it is sold from August to January.
When buying Black Sapotes, avoid ones whose skin has burst open or that have black spots or bruises on the skin.
Unripe ones are bitter.
To use or eat, cut the fruit open, scoop out the pulp and discard the seeds.
Black Sapotes need to stand out of the fridge for 2 to 6 days to ripen and soften. After that, you can use the fruit right away, or refrigerate for 3 to 5 days.
The pulp can be frozen.
Native to Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
King, Mary. Black Sapote. Food Section, Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 15 December 1999.