White Sapote or Casimiroa
Late summer is one of my favourite times of the year as Casimiroas are ripening – to me a good one is just about as good a fruit to eat as you can get.
Casimiroa is generally regarded as a native of the Central Highland area of Mexico though some say also from South America but these could have been traded south by pre European peoples. Being from higher altitudes they are able to stand light frosts and occasional dry periods. They belong to the Rutaceae family which includes Citrus and are named after the 18th century Spanish botanist Casimiro Gomez de Ortega.
The medium sized tree is semi-evergreen and has three to five leaflets per palmate leaf. The flowers are relatively insignificant, greenish yellow and produced in very large numbers. Some cultivars are self-fertile while others require cross pollination. Seedling plants are quite variable, one I know produced one fruit in 25 years even though it had other cultivars around it while others commenced fruiting in 6 to 7 years.
The fruit can grow to about the size of a cricket ball, is green until nearly ripe when there is a subtle colour change to either a lighter green or yellowish green and sometimes even yellow. One to five big, white seeds are in the middle of the smooth, melting, white to creamy-yellow flesh, which is sweet and flavoursome in good cultivars. With poor cultivars, which are usually white fleshed, the flavour can be quite watery and not worth eating. With many of the cultivars the fruit drops to the ground when it is ripe, often splattering on the ground as the skin is very thin and tender. A few hold their fruit ripe on the tree until they finally collapse or the birds eat them. Possums are very partial to the fruit and can be a great nuisance as they start eating them just as they become mature. With the colour change the fruit can be picked while still hard and ripened inside.
Fruit are eaten fresh when the flesh becomes very soft, some enjoy them skin and all, others peel them. They also make a good icecream or can be pureed and frozen or add about one third plain yoghurt and freeze. They are not seen often on the market floor as they don’t travel well and have to be eaten fairly promptly when they are ripe.
Any reasonably free draining soil is suitable for growing Casimiroa. The tree can make a nice shade tree but does take up a bit of space but it is well worth it for its fruit.