Friday, June 18, 2010

Mamey Sapote Ice Cream

I just told you about our trip to Florida, right? And how we stopped at the famous tropical fruit stand in Homestead called Robert Is Here—right? So here’s more of the story.

Yes, I did get a few “new” fruits to carry home with me on the plane! I selected two different underripe fruits and got ripening tips from one of the friendly Robert Is Here staff.

One of those fruits was a sapote, a.k.a. mamey sapote, a.k.a. Pouteria sapota. Because I’m a botany junkie, I have to give you a little background on the plant. If all you want is the ice cream recipe, then scroll down to the bottom—but I contend you’ll appreciate your food more if you learn more about it.

Mamey sapote is a tree fruit native to southern Mexico but which is now grown and loved throughout Central America and the Caribbean. And south Florida. Latin Americans enjoy eating it raw or made into a variety of frozen treats—Wikipedia says: “milkshakes, smoothies, ice cream, and fruit bars.” The same source describes the fruit’s flavor as “a combination of pumpkin, sweet potato, and maraschino cherries with the texture of an avocado.”

The fruit I purchased was shaped something like a football, with a mildly rough-textured rind. I selected one that was still pretty firm and underripe, so I could transport it home in my backpack and still have time (about a week) for it to ripen.

I wonder: Why in the heck isn’t this fruit carried in more supermarkets? It can be shipped firm and underripe, and it’s tasty and easy to work with. (Send me out there. I’ll stand in the produce department, handing out samples!)

Here are some pictures of what’s inside the fruit. I highly recommend looking at this Web site, which is from the book Fruits of Warm Climates, by Julia F. Morton. Its treatment of mamey sapote is much more interesting than Wikipedia’s brief “intro-primer.”

The bit about the texture being “like an avocado” is spot-on, even though the avocado is in a different family (the laurels) instead of the Sapotaceae (sap-oh-TAY-see-ee), to which this species belongs.

One of the hallmarks of the Sapotaceae is that most members have a milky latex sap. The chicle tree is another member, and its latex became the original chewing gum. (Hey, care for a Chiclet?) Chicle sap was still being used for chewing gum until the 1960s, when gum companies switched to cheaper, synthetic sources of, well, rubber.

So keeping in mind that the sap of this thing is latex-ey, make sure your sapote is nice and ripe before you cut it open. The guy at Robert Is Here told me to wait until it’s quite soft and starts getting kind of shrunken and wrinkled—which I did.

It turned out beautifully. The buttery-smooth flesh was salmon-orange and scoopable with a spoon. There was one big, lovely, shiny seed in the center. It did remind me of cutting an avocado.

We tried some of the fruit plain and in a bowl, and yes, it had the same kind of rich, sweet taste that pumpkins and sweet potatoes have, but with an extra “fruity” quality. A very distinct flavor. Personally, I thought it was kind of “strong” for my tastes. Maybe adding a dash of lime juice, like you can do with papayas, would help a newbie like me get used to it. Or just including it with other fruits on a platter.

The fruit, which was about 8 or 9 inches long, yielded about 2–3 cups of flesh, I’d say. Taking a cue from the Latinos, here’s what I did with the rest of the sapote.

First, I ran the sapote flesh through my food mill, using the smallest holes, to remove extra fibers and make it all smooth. Then I put it in the fridge and drove to the store for ice cream ingredients!

The following recipe is a combination of a frozen yogurt recipe and a “simple” ice cream recipe, which both came from the booklet that accompanied my Cuisinart ice cream maker. Simple: It uses no eggs and requires no cooking. It makes about a quart of ice cream.

By incorporating the vanilla yogurt into the recipe, I added creaminess while decreasing fat. It also added a certain yogurty tanginess that combines well (I think) with the sapote flavor. (Instead of brown sugar and cinnamon, I prefer sour cream or plain yogurt on my sweet potatoes—and I guess that’s kind of the same thing.)

(One final word: This recipe would work well with dang near any fruit pulp you want to use. It’s not rocket science!)

Sapote Ice Cream

2/3 c. heavy cream (chilled)
1/3 c. whole milk (chilled)
1 c. low-fat vanilla yogurt (use the costlier, creamier kind!) (chilled)
3/4 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. sapote pulp (that’s been run through a food mill or pressed through a sieve to remove fibers) (chilled is a good idea)

Dissolve the sugar into the liquid ingredients, being careful not to whip the cream (indeed, you could just stir in the cream after mixing the sugar), and then fold in the sapote pulp.

Freeze in your ice cream freezer per instructions.

I use a Cuisinart ice cream maker, and this recipe makes about as much ice cream as the thing will hold. Since I had about 2 cups of processed pulp to work with, I made two of these batches, each a day apart (the Cuisinart’s freezer-bowl has to be refrozen between uses).


Anonymous said...

I've finally found where to buy Mamey online!

I ordered a box just for this recipe :) Thank you!

Julianna Schroeder said...

Hi, Anon,

I can't endorse that company, since I've never used it, but hey, I wouldn't be opposed to trying them! Thanks for the tip.

We visited Florida again this spring (2012) and I placed an order with Robert Is Here while we were there. Because we wouldn't be home for a while, I told them *when* I wanted the produce shipped, and they delayed the shipment per my request. My mameys (plus a delicious hand of apple bananas, a big papaya, some awesome avocados, and more) all arrived in great shape. Here's the website for Robert Is Here:

If you have any questions about ordering or shipping, they're really friendly and helpful if you just call them.

I had them send me a bunch of mameys. I peeled and seeded them, ran them through my food mill, and divvied them up into 1 cup portions--then froze them.

Thus we will have mamey sapote ice cream all summer long!!! Mwah-hah-hah-hah!!!

Thanks for commenting, and it's good to know mamey sapotes are available from several outlets.

Someday, maybe the stores here will just offer them as a matter of course!


EDominguez said...

The mamey sapote is indigenous to Mexico, but also Central America and the Caribbean. The football like fruit was not recently introduced to the later two nor NOW grow there. Mamey and the ice cream made from it, for many Cubans, has been a sweet staple of their diet. First introduced to S. Florida in 1880, it is most widely sold as ice cream or milk shakes in Cuban sandwich shops or restaurants versus other Hispanic restaurants in the area.