By Noel Ramos
Mid Summer is here and there is a bounty of local fruits available in South Florida stores, markets and even directly at the farms
Mango: The early season varieties like Glenn and Carrie are already gone and we can now look forward to mid-season fruits like Graham, Nam Doc and Valencia Pride. The best late season mangos are Keitts and Kent. There are even some real late types like Brooks and Zill that last until November but they can be hard to find. Always buy Florida grown mangos, the difference is like night and day between ours and the inferior imported ones. Buy them from local growers if your grocer does not carry them.
Sapodilla: The latex sap of these trees was once the main ingredient of chewing gum but fruits are now the main reason that we grow these trees in the tri-county area. These tennis ball sized fruits are tomato shaped and have a scruffy brown skin. Make sure they are soft to the touch before you consume them. When soft and ripe, they taste like a delicious caramel pear and are eaten fresh out of hand but are best when slightly chilled. Look for Florida varieties such as Tikal, Molix, Hasya and Alano.
Mamey Sapote: These large one pound plus football shaped fruits are one of the favorites of the Cuban community in Miami and can be found in local markets. They have a rough brown skin but inside there are pure deliciosness as the orange-red flesh has an almond-vanilla flavor that makes some of the best smoothies and milkshakes ever! The best cultivar is the Pantin and it dominates the local market in the summer. The best indicator to a properly ripened fruit is to make a tiny nick on the pointy end of the fruit with your fingernail. If the color underneath is orange or red, then the fruit will ripen properly. If the color is green, then it will not be a good one.
Canistel: Also known as eggfruit is a nice fruit that’s related to Mamey and Sapodilla. It is bright smooth yellow roundish fruit that has a defined sharp tip although there are also varieites shaped like a tomato. The yellow-orangy pulp is aromatic but rather dry and tastes a bit like a caramel flavored pumpkin. It’s best used in smoothies and for baking but new cultivars have promise as a fresh fruit. There are recipes for a Canistel pie that tastes exactly like pumpkin pie. They are loaded with nutrients like vitamin A.
Guavas: These are another summer treat are grown in the Redland area of Miami Dade. The main Guavas harvested here are the Ruby pink types of which there are many cultivars. These are very sweet and aromatic, best eaten when they soften up. The other major type produced commercially in Florida is Indonesian White types which are not as sweet as the reds but are consumed while hard and eaten like an apple.
When you visit your local markets, make it a point to ask the produce managers to carry locally grown fruits and learn the local culitvars and specifically ask for them.