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The Babaco fruit is torpedo shaped with five deep longitudinal furrows that resemble the shape of a star. The fruit's skin is smooth and thin and when fully ripe will turn golden yellow in color. Its flesh is cotton-white, seedless, succulent and melon-like in consistency with overt effervescent qualities. Babaco fruit allures with aromatics that distribute volatile compounds, these compounds directly influence the flavors of the fruit. Babaco's flavors are layered with tropical and sub acidic notes of pineapple, kiwi and its parent fruit, papaya. It can reach lengths of 12 inches (30 cm) and the entire fruit is edible.
Babaco's peak season is during spring months.
The Babaco, also called mountain papaya, chamber and champagne fruit, botanical name Carica pentagona, is a tropical fruit of the genus Vasconcellea. Vasconcellea is comprised of 21 species of flowering plants that produce fruit. Babaco is grown for domestic and commercial use, sold as a fresh market fruit and processed into canned fruit products.
Babaco fruit contains substantial amounts of the digestive enzyme, papain. Papain naturally breaks down bonds in proteins. Papain is extracted from Babaco and its parent fruit papaya and sold in chewable tablet form as a digestive supplement.
Use Babaco in any recipe calling for papaya. Babaco can be eaten whole or skin peeled, raw or cooked. It is often pureed into smoothies and other fruit beverages. The flesh is used as a desert ingredient in pies, syrups and confections. Babaco pairs well with other tropical fruits such as pineapple and mangoes, peaches, chiles, coconut, poultry, ginger, avocados, prosciutto, ham and strawberries. Citruses such as lime and grapefruit enhance the fruit's flavor. Babaco can also be used as a dual-purpose natural meat tenderizer and marinade. Ripe uncut fruit has a shelf life of up to four weeks.
The Babaco is a natural hybrid between pawpaw (papaya) species that was originally discovered in the Andean Highlands of Ecuador. It has been distributed and naturalized throughout tropical and subtropical regions of Central America. Babaco fruit grows in clusters on evergreen shrubs that appear like small palm trees. Each fruit ripens one at a time. Babaco prefers warm humid weather and does not tolerate strong winds and hot dry conditions. Greenhouse cultivation does induce crops but this practice is utilized mostly for horticultural research. Babaco was introduced into New Zealand in the early 1970's. Commercial cultivation thrives in New Zealand's mountain regions with conditions that approximate Eucuadorian Highlands.
Recipes that include Babaco. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Laylita's Recipes||Ecuadorian Fruit and Oatmeal Drink|
|Just Recipes||Babaco Chutney|
People have spotted Babaco using the Specialty Produce app for iPhone and Android.
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