Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tropical Fruit: Mamey Sapote

Jack had told me about growing up eating mamey (pronounced Mah-MAY) in his childhood. When we've considered getting some fruit tree starts, Mamey has been among those at the top of the list. Even though it's native to our tropical clime, we rarely see it in the stores, or even grown here locally. Perhaps it's not prone to a lengthy shelf-life? Or maybe public tastebuds don't consider it a trendy enough exotic fruit?

I don't know, but I do know that a couple days ago, we spied two among the few other tropical fruits in the local grocery store, and purchased them. I've never tasted mamey, and it's been years since Jack has.

Here's what one looks like...



It's quite a bit smaller than Jack remembers having in his youth, and the color is pale in comparison with homegrown ones that are nearly ruby, or a deep rich orange flesh inside. Here is what it looked like when sliced open. It is ripe when a bit softened, sort of like an avocado or cantaloupe, and has much the same texture of either of those, or like a papaya.



We don't know if the seed will easily germinate, and whether or not the resulting seedling would grow into a fruit-bearing tree, or a sterile one. Even if not sterile, some mamey trees bear inferior-tasting fruit, and it's sort of the luck of the draw on that score. Still, Jack's proven to have a truly green thumb with finicky seeds, as our (now four!) mangoes have proven. He's wanting to try out the mamey seeds...just to see :) You can see in this picture that the seed easily separates from the flesh of the fruit.



The fruit slices easily, as easily as an avocado, and the skin is easy to remove. It's not as flavorful as Jack remembers homegrown fruit being, but he still greatly enjoyed it. To me, it had an initial impression of cantaloupe flavor, with a hint of papaya, but mostly tasted like a juicy peach. Hard to explain, but I liked it much more than a papaya...I still haven't quite acquired a taste for those yet. So far, my favorite "exotic" fruit is a mango or a blood orange. But these, if they grew in my yard, would definately get eaten. I'm guessing they'd be quite delicious in about anything a mango would, and would make a great salsa and smoothies to boot.



The seed's soaking, and this is a picture of the last of the mamey, before they were scarfed down and moaned over for a few moments by my appreciative husband. Kind of like me with an heirloom tomato...

11 comments:

Mrs. K's Lemonade Stand said...

I have never heard of it and how neat to discover new foods! Thanks :)

Meg said...

mmm... sounds good! I am always amazed at how much fruit is available beyond the typical grocery sore varieties.

As for growing it from seed, I googled and found this:

Mamey sapote is commonly propagated by seed in many areas; however, this method is not recommended because seedling trees take 7 or more years to begin fruiting and the fruit quality may be poor. In Florida, seedlings are typically used as rootstocks for desirable cultivars.

Seeds should be collected from mature fruit and planted immediately in well-drained media. Seeds lose viability within 7 to 14 days and there is no good method for storing seeds. Seeds which have a hairline crack in the seed coat appear to germinate more quickly. However, seeds without a crack will germinate satisfactorily. The seed coat can be cracked by placing seeds between two boards and gently applying pressure on the seed until a hairline crack is formed. Seedlings, if grown in beds, should be transferred to containers as they grow and should be ready to graft after 6 to 18 months when trees are 3 feet (about 1 m) tall.


http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG331

Robbyn said...

It's neat to try them...a first for me :) I'm still getting used to living in a zone 9/10 where these and a lot of "exotic" things can be grown...maybe that's a tradeoff for the blistering summer heat?? experimenting will be fun :)

Twinville said...

Wow. I've never seen those before. The flesh reminds me of sweet potatoe. The outside is creepy like a kiwi, but the inside is quite 'sexy'! hehe

burekaboy — said...

have never had this fruit before but have heard of it. where is your husband from originally?

i'm with you, too, papaya is something i just can't come to like. even the smell of it grosses me out, LOL.

Robbyn said...

Hey Bureka! Yeah, papaya is, um...an acquired taste?? Jack is growing several papaya trees, so hopefully I learn to use it in...something...maybe hidden in a mixed fruit smoothie or used to tenderize beef?

My husband's mother is from Cuba and she is of Sephardic/Southern European background.

watch me eat said...

I just tried one of these for the first time from a farm stand on my last trip to Miami. I really liked how it tasted, like pumpkin-pie filling straight out of the fruit! I have the seed soaking in water right now and will probably stick it in a pot in a few days.

I'm afraid it gets too cold up here for the tree to ever fruit (Orlando), but it's worth a try anyway!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I read this thread because I am also looking for information on planting a mamey seed. I just came back from The Keys and bought a mamey there. I would really like to try to plant the seed, but now I read it should be within 7 or 14 days after eating. I'll have to hurry then, it's one week old now.
Since this thread is a year old I guess you have some experience by now. Any hints? how deep? keep it warm, lots of light?
I live in Belgium and want to try it as an interior plant, don't think it will grow to be a tree in a pot anyway.
thanks

Robbyn said...

Hi, Anonymous...and hello all the way to Belgium! I was there in the 80s briefly and it was simply lovely :)

I seem to have a black thumb with indoor plants, so all I can tell you is how our planting experiment went outdoors. The seedling did make it until our winter experienced several freezes. The mamey is one of the plants that did not survive the freezes. The reason we have no re-tried it is twofold...we are not located where we would like to be permanently, so our emphasis is to hold off on permanent plantings and anything requiring extra care, and secondly we are adopting more of an attitude of "whatever makes it here and thrives of its own volition is the plant we need." You may have success in a protected environment if there is enough heat and light and room for the roots to spread. A greenhouse extends these things in colder areas quite well, and we hope to have one to act as nurse to the plants requiring fewer temperature extremes. Another thing we're doing these days is underplanting smaller trees beneath taller ones or along edges, as a permaculture technique, which is how things usually naturally grow. We're doing this a lot with papayas to see if it helps with temperature protection somewhat, since we lose a lot of those to freezes if not protected. did this help you at all? I wish you success!

Jason Wright said...

Greetings from St Thomas. We have a seedling that is about ten inches tall. Suggestions on placement as far as full sun or partial for best results? Jason wright@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I had a friend visit from Florida and she brought me a Mamey. On a whim I put the pit in a planter that I had dirt in, but no plant. About 2 months later...it has a sprout. I live in the Pacific Northwest, so there is no way this tree would grow outside, but it is fun anyway and I am going to see how big it will get in the house. Since I only have the one fruit, I don't think it will produce any fruit, no pollination. Although it could be sterile anyway. FUN FUN FUN!