Friday, December 4, 2009

Philippine Fruits in Season

Atis! Chicos! Mangoes! Three of my favorite Philippine fruits in season during the last quarter of the year.

Atis. Also called sweet sop, sugar apple, or chirimoya, a relative of the custard apple belonging to the annona family. Brought to the Philippines by the Spanish colonizers from South America, the fruit has sweet white flesh whose black seeds are easily cultivated into small trees that can mature between 10 and 20 feet and that will bear fruit after a year.

The green grenade-looking fruit atis is rich in vitamin C, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Carotene, Ash, Phosphorus, Calcium, Iron, Carbohydrates, Protein, Tryptophan, Lysine, and Methionine.

Chico. Also called sapodilla, this brown round to oblong fruit with shiny black seeds is soft, slightly gritty, and sweet. Its tree called chiku in English is about as big in size and height as the atis tree.

The cico's sapota juice is rich in sugars, proteins, vitamin C, phenolics, carotenoids, and minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, calcium and potassium.

Mango. Heart-shaped and bright yellow, the mango which is hailed the most majestic of all Philippine fruits has a twin counterpart from India. While the indian variety is intolerant of humidity, has flushes of bright red new growth that are subject to mildew, Philippine mango tolerates excess moisture, has pale green or red new growth and resists mildew. The mango is a good source of vitamins A, C, and D.

This should not be confused with the Philippine "indian mango" which has green skin, even when at its ripest. This green mango is best when near ripe with its sweet-sour crunchy-juicy flesh best dipped in plain salt, or soy sauce with optional spiced vinegar, or traditionally prepared shrimp paste called bagoong.

Philippine fruits in season are said to be at their sweetest and most succulent when the sun is at its meanest and hottest. The best atis, chico, and mango should be firm, not too hard, not too mushy for your perfect pick of Philippine fruits in season.

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