Another tasty tropical fruit to share with you. The Star Apple, also known as the cainito, caimito, star plum, tar apple, milk fruit, golden leaf tree, and a few other names, is a wonderful fruit.
I love learning about and trying new fruits as well as talking about some of my favorite fruits. The star apple is a fruit I am very fond of. And I used to eat them many years ago when I was living in the Philippines for a few years.
In this article, you will learn where the star apple comes from and where it grows, what the health benefits are, how to eat it, and what they taste like. Of course, taste is subjective, so I will describe what they taste like to me. Now, on to the information!
Where does the star apple come from and where does it grow?
The star apple is part of the Sapote or Sapotaceae family and comes in mainly two colors, purple and green. It is a tropical tree that is native to the West Indies and the Greater Antilles. Despite the name, it isn’t an apple.
They spread and are not grown in many places throughout the tropics and subtropics. Places like India, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, China, Central America, Jamaica, Cuba, and many other places.
A fast-growing tree, it can reach heights of over 20 feet, and grows very well from seed. If grown from seed the Star Apple tree can produce fruit in as few as 4 years. That is extremely fast.
But if you buy a sapling from the nursery that was grafted onto rootstock or propagated from a branch, it can grow fruit in as few as 1 to 2 years after planting.
They grow here in the United States as well, in Hawaii, Florida, and Southern Texas. And hobbyists can even grown them here in AZ and Southern California. As long as there are warm/hot temps in the summer and the temp average doesn’t get below 35 or 40 F.
The ones I buy are usually grown in the US, probably coming from Florida, and are pretty expensive. The last time I bought them they were $9.99/lb which is insane. They grow everywhere like on the side of the road in the Philippines. And are pretty much free to pick, haha.
So if you like them and live in the warm parts of the US or around the world, consider planting them.
What are the health benefits of cainito fruit?
The star apple has many health benefits:
- Help to improve digestive health. They contain a good amount of fiber.
- High in Vitamin C
- Helps control Diabetes. The fiber helps keep the blood sugar under control.
- Rich in antioxidants
- Helps to prevent iron deficiency anemia
There are a few other health benefits as well. For more health benefits visit this article.
How to eat the Star Apple?
Make sure to wash the outside of the fruit. Then cut along the equator of it. The stem being the top. Cut in about half of an inch or so and then go around it.
Now you can take your hands and gently pull it apart, revealing the star pattern. As well as the seeds. The number of seeds will vary but usually 5 to 10 fairly good sized seeds will be in each fruit.
A few thing to not. The Star Apple skin contains a sticky latex substance in it, so don’t eat the skin. The seeds aren’t edible as well. Only the white milky flesh and the rubbery membrane that surrounds the seeds is eaten.
Commonly the inside is scooped out with a spoon and then eaten fresh. Some people would also just forgo the spoon and just bit into the middle. Someone recommended that if you do that, to put a little oil on your lips to prevent them from getting too sticky from the latex in the skin. I always use a spoon, haha.
While commonly eaten fresh as is it is also used in ice cream and sherbet. Occasionally it is made into preserves as well.
What does star apple taste like?
Now time to describe the taste. First off the flesh is extremely juicy. The membrane around the seeds reminds me texture-wise of squid, but not as rubbery or chewy.
The taste of the star apple reminds me of a mix of a watered-down sweetened condensed milk, a hint of blueberry flavor and texture, and a hint of lychee or rambutan. Again taste is very subjective. It tastes like a star apple, lol.
Unfortunately only about a third of the fruit is actually eaten. The rest can just be composted or thrown away. And, don’t forget to plant those seeds if you want.
And that is the Star Apple, a delicious tropical and subtropical fruit. Enjoy!
Now watch the video where I talk all about it!
Here are some other fruits and recipes you may enjoy: