Each month in “What’s in Season,” I try to feature a well-known, readily available specimen, as well as something a little more unusual. This month is no exception.
I have written in this space before about the massive and versatile Jackfruit, Artocarpus heterophylla. My more unusual, but delicious specimen is the Cinnamon Apple, Pouteria hypoglauca.
Cinnamon Apple is a lesser known cousin of favorites like Mamey Sapote and Canistel. Round, softball sized fruits have a slightly grainy texture and a
mildly milky sweet taste. The common name probably comes from the fruit that begins to turn color, with brown flecks after it has been cut, almost like it has been sprinkled with cinnamon. It does not taste of cinnamon, but mimics the common apple that begins to oxidize after cutting. It is commonly eaten out of hand or mixed into milkshakes or other drinks. The Cinnamon Apple got my attention in the aftermath of hurricane Irma. As our staff was assessing the damaged trees, shredded leaves, and broken branches, this tough little tree stood out for its noticeable lack of damage. It would make a fine addition to just about any landscape, with the added benefit of delicious fruit produced over a relatively long season.
Jackfruit, Artocarpus heterophylla can easily be called the most versatile fruit known to man. Aside from being the largest tree borne fruit (sometimes found up to 100 pounds in its native range) it is useful and valuable at every stage, from flower to mature fruit. In fact, more uses are being found all the time. The large, stately tree can produce 2-300 pounds of fruit per year, with season varying by variety, but like most tropical fruits, peaking in the summer months.
Jackfruit is enjoyed in many forms. A single jackfruit can yield hundreds of the small, yellow, fruit lobes (or bulbs) — each of which contain a highly nutritious seed. The fruit itself is a good source of Vitamin C, while the seeds are rich in protein, potassium, calcium, and iron. It can be harvested immature and cooked like a vegetable in a myriad of ways. In parts of Southeast Asia, jackfruit is served in dozens of ways. Jackfruit curry, stir fry, juice, chips, ice cream, and even baking flour — made from drying and grinding the seeds or fruit — are just a few examples of jackfruit’s remarkable versatility in the kitchen.
Here in South Florida, Jackfruit grows easily with little care once mature. Be sure to leave enough room for this tree though, as it is only suitable for areas with enough space to accommodate a large tree. Here at the Fruit and Spice Park, we have an extensive collection of Jackfruit. This is core to our mission of introducing and evaluating ethnobotanically important trees and plants to the South Florida landscape for the betterment of homeowners and commercial growers alike. Visitors to the park can see Jackfruit trees, and thousands of others, in their mature producing stages, sample fruit in season, and do all of this in a peaceful, idyllic setting in the Redland agricultural area of South Miami-Dade County.