Attention must be paid when eating a star apple.
It can be as heavenly as the constellations or as mean as hell … or anything in between ecstasy and agony … often “meh”.
Perfectly ripe and correctly chilled, the juicy cainito has the sweet background taste of dates, almost identical to persimmons. The slippery texture is like grapes.
Cut horizontally across the middle (not from the stem end) and there is the beautiful star pattern for which the fruit is named. There are green and stunningly beautiful purple versions. This is the prettiest photo I’ve seen on the web of the cut fruit.
That site also has some good tips and user comments.
At room temperature and/or not fully ripe, they taste just ok, a little sweet like a grape, but the complexity is gone.
Cut it incorrectly, and the bitter latex in the skin and rind coats your lips, teeth and tongue with substance that is tacky like the sticky side of Scotch tape. The tough, rubbery skin is inedible.
In excess, they cause constipation … the agony.
Of course, I did everything wrong with the first one I tried … it was not fully ripe, room temperature and cut the wrong way. It was slightly sweet but really tasted like nothing much. The only thing that impressed me was the latex covering my face. That sent me on a web search about them.
The chilled, ripe, correctly cut version was glorious. However, I could not get certain family members to try it as they had the same first experience as I did … frio, es muy bueno., verdad … No, no, no.
There is a beautiful photo of the chilled fruit and the tree in this link
Some say they taste milky or like apples, cherimoya or custard. I didn’t think so. Someone compared the texture to soursop … like I know what that is … but for soursop aficionados, it might be like that.
Star apples have an affinity for oranges and milk, especially condensed milk, so it is often mixed with those two ingredients and chilled.
More ideas for caimito recipes can be found on the Home Cooking board.
This site had the best info for selecting the fruit which should be soft to the touch … think persimmon. However, if they get too soft, they get bitter. Ripe star apples bruise easily, making them difficult to ship.
“Caimitos must be mature when they are picked from the tree, otherwise they will not ripen … If you purchase caimitos in a market, try to find fruits that are beginning to soften, that way you be pretty sure that the fruit is mature. Allow the fruits to sit on the counter at room temperature until they are just a little bit wrinkled and give a little, like a ripe peach.”
“Once the caimito has ripened, store the ripe fruit in a plastic bag or container in the coldest part of the refrigerator. It will remain in good condition for 2-3 weeks.You can also freeze the pulp tightly wrapped in plastic.”
There are three methods of getting to the fruit inside the star apple:
1. Slice in half and scoop out the pulp with a spoon, discard the glossy, hard black seeds, skin and soft rind (which I assume is the deepest purple flesh attached to the skin).
2. Cut through the skin and rind, but not the pulp. The cut should be from middle, not the stem end. Hold the fruit stem end down, gently twist the top back and forth. The pulp will free itself from the bottom half of the rind and will pull away.
3. Squeeze the uncut fruit until it becomes soft, which mixes the juice with the meat of the fruit. Cut a small hole in the top so the juice can be sucked out. You HAVE TO read the description of how to do this in the quote from the Vietnamese embassy at the end of this post. Whoever wrote this could write great literature … or porn.
“The fruit also exist in two colors, dark purple and greenish brown. The purple fruit has a denser skin and texture while the greenish brown fruit has a thin skin and a more liquid pulp … Also, Chinese geneticists have created a rainbow-colored version of the fruit.”
The purple varieties are Haitian and Lila. One green variety is Philippine gold. Though some claim they all taste the same, each has their fans. Those that liked the thinner-skinned green variety think it is less fiborous. Those favoring the purple variety say they are sweeter.
The round fruit is usually small, anywhere between the size of a golf ball or tennis ball. The photo at the end of the post shows it next to a medium-sized tangerine. There is a larger green variety about the size of grapefruit. There’s a photo of it in this link.
The tree is huge with leaves that are gold. I just started noticing these trees recently. I thought there was something wrong with them since I’ve never seen yellow leaves in Guatemala except on dying trees.
The cainito is hermaphroditic. Like an apple, there can occasionally be worms, though I’ve only read that about the green version grown in the Philippines.
This site writes
“Despite it being a great favorite with locals and most of the foreigners who buy it, growers don't plant this tree widely as it takes one tree seven to eight years to mature and bear fruit and the surface root system takes up a lot of land, preventing any other crops from growing beside it or near it. Even with a good yield, though, growers can only make between $25 to $35 from each annual harvest. A cluster of a dozen costs between 4500 and 6000 riel, or around a dollar to $1.50. So there are obvious reasons why milk fruit was much rarer than other fruits such as mango or jackfruit.”
Some other names include: caimito, golden leaf tree, abiaba, pomme du lait, estrella, and milk fruit.
Caimitos are nutritious and a good source of anti-oxidents and vitamin C, as well as some calcium and phosphorus. Wikipedia states it is known to increase the life of rats up to 20%. … as if I want the rats to hang around longer.
There are 67 calories in 100g of pulp. Lots more info about medicinal uses in this link.
According to this site
“Bolivians parboil the edible portion, and also prepare it as a decoction. An emulsion of the slightly bitter seed kernels is used to make imitation milk-of almonds, also nougats and other confections.”
The Vietnamese embassy site about vu sua (milk from the breast):
“The shape of the star apple only may as well match the name attached to it let alone its juice as fragrantly sweet, purely white as the milk from the breast
The most appreciated way to enjoy the fruit by orchard owners is to it the fruit in whole. That is to drill a small hole at the top of the fruit and lift it to the mouth and raise the head backward to suck the flow of the fragrant juice into the mouth continuously as if a baby sucking milk from its mother's breast. One thing you should remember is that before taking in the juice like that you must squeeze the tough fruit for a while until it becomes tendered so that the juice can mix with the meat of the fruit to become a sweet and fragrant muddy substance that looks like milk from the breast. “