It may seem like humans have come up with many of the decadent flavours and foods that surround us, but in many instances, you’ll find that nature was there first.
That’s certainly the case for the Black Sapote, aka the chocolate pudding tree, which has begun to fruit at Bundaberg Botanic Gardens.
The 10-year-old tropical fruit tree located at the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens only fruits once a year, and Gin Gin Landcare Nursery Group president Ray Johnson described its taste as sweet, soft and fruity.
“The word sapote means sweet, soft fruit and it was the Portuguese that used the term when they first went to South America and found these fruits,” Ray said.
A relative of the persimmon, the black sapote is native to Mexico, South America, but is also cultivated in Florida, Australia, California and Hawaii.
Chocolate pudding tree provides endless culinary possibilities
According to Ray, the fruit is best served with cream and brandy or whisky, but he admitted the taste isn’t as sweet as your normal chocolate mousse.
“A lot of people are a little disappointed because they think it’s going to taste just like chocolate and admittedly it does have a chocolatey taste, but it’s fairly faint,” Ray said.
“It’s mostly eaten out of the hand, but some people scoop a bit out, put some whisky or brandy on top with some cream and that makes it more like a chocolate mousse. It’s very nice like that.”
Ray warned, though, that the chocolate pudding tree fruit was only enjoyable in its ripened state, and that the tree can take months fruit.
“It’s probably an eight-month period from flowering to fruit,” he said.
“They usually set flower in spring and then it takes six to nine months to ripen completely.
“They hang on the tree in a green colour and then you have to wait for the calyx, which is this little leafy arrangement at the stem to rise.
“When they start to lift that’s when you pick it.”
For those among us who like the sound of free chocolate pudding that comes from a tree, The Gin Gin Landcare Nursery has seedlings available.
Ray said the plant was relatively easy to maintain, but reiterated that the female tree is the only one that produces the delicious fruit.
“They are a male and female tree, but the males are quite uncommon and for every seedling you get, one might be a male and the next 20 will be female,” Ray explained.
“You don’t need male trees to get fruit on a female though and a female tree will produce fruit on its own.”
“It’s a very easy tree to grow because nothing much touches it, but when it’s ripening the birds will take the fruit, so once they turn a bit black on the outside don’t hesitate to pick them and then you can put a little brandy or whisky with cream on it.”