Thursday, March 28, 2013

All About Egg Fruit (Canistel)

Origin of Egg Fruit
Canistel originates in the southern parts of Mexico in the Yucatan Peninsula. The Aztecs and Mayans, for instance, enjoyed this heart-shaped fruit circa 800BC. The fruit is also native to northern Central America; more specifically, El Salvador, Belize, and Guatemala. Lucuma, a close relative of eggfruit, is a staple in the diets of Peruvians and Ecuadorians. South Africans also have an abundance of lucuma as well.

Though these countries have no wild strains, canistels grow in lower Central America from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama. Fruits also grow throughout the islands of Jamaica, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. Though many Americans are unaware of canistel, some Floridians grow the fruit on account of the state’s permitting weather.

When the fruit came to India isn’t exactly known, though it was likely around the time the Philippines received the fruit in 1924. Eggfruit’s popularity is limited to the regions of its origin, as it’s not well known in Europe and in most countries in Asia.

Availability of Egg Fruit in India
Eggfruit grows in Maharashtra throughout the Western Ghats, Kerala, limited parts of Tamil Nadu, and it’s also a hobby fruit in a few gardens of Auroville. The fruit does not have any serious farming efforts, and it generally sulks in the shadow of its immensely popular brother, the sapota. To add insult to injury, some Indians know the fruit as “yellow sapota.”

Eggfruit season in India is June through July, though some are available in December. Farmers have to pick individual ripe fruits off the tree, as they do not ripen uniformly. The eggfruit’s skin is also delicate, which causes an additional harvesting burden.

Where to find Eggfruit in India

Presently, canistel is an unknown, low supply, low demand fruit. As such, they are difficult to find—fruits hit the small markets in the areas in which they grow, but are not usually transported outside of this limited range. Even in Kerala, locals deem eggfruits a luxury. Too few Indian consumers are familiar with canistels, which makes it difficult for farmers to seriously consider cultivating them.

If in Chennai, one may have luck procuring the fruit through the organic gourmet store, Terra EarthFood.

Checking for Ripeness in Eggfruit
Canistels ripen on the tree and turn from green to gold. Unripe fruits may still bear a golden sheen, so the best indicator is the skin’s gloss and texture. Look for fruits with a dull, velvety texture that resembles a mango. Eggfruits should give to the touch, indicating that their smooth pulp is ready for consumption. Though some find the smell off-putting, canistels also emit a musky aroma when ripe.

Some canistels develop small brown spots and a slight reddish blush. Neither of these factors will adversely affect the fruit’s taste. Avoid eggfruits with wrinkled, sunken, decayed skin. Spoiled fruits also develop brown and black discoloration. Note: cut the fruit in half and check the pulp before discarding—if it’s still golden and soft, consider holding on to it. Like mango, canistels may develop an ugly exterior but still maintain its rich taste.

Taste of Eggfruit
Eggfruits are named as such because their texture resembles an egg yolk: soft, starchy, and somewhat creamy. The texture of the fruit evolves as one nears the center of the fruit—while the pulp is slightly tough and mealy under the skin, the pulp nearest to the center is softer and creamier.

Eggfruit also lives up to its namesake with its flavor as well, as it tastes like mashed egg yolks sprinkled with sugar. Canistels, with its subdued sweetness and mellow, agreeable flavor, also resemble sweet potato, yams and cooked pumpkin.

Nutritional Value of Egg Fruit
According to an analysis conducted at Havana’s Laboratorio FIM de Nutricion, 100g of egg fruit contains the following values:

60.6g Moisture
1.68g Protein
.13g Fat
36.69g Carbs
.10g Fiber
.90g Ash
26.5mg Calcium
37.3mg Phosphorous
.92mg Iron
.32mg Carotene
.17mg Thiamine
.01mg Riboflavin
3.72mg Niacin
58.1mg Ascorbic Acid
28mg Tryptophan
13mg Methionine

85mg Lysine

Health Benefits of Egg Fruit
Like other orange-colored fruits, eggfruit is high in beta-carotene. This nutrient protects eyes, gives hair its lustrous sheen, and maintains glowing skin. Additionally, carotenoids fight cancers, age related degeneration, depression, headaches, heartburn, and high blood pressure.

One serving of eggfruit provides a good quantity of iron, a mineral essential for blood health due to its ability to facilitate proper oxygen circulation. Iron also promotes good memory, stable energy levels and overall strength.

Few scientific studies have been conducted on the health benefits of canistel, but studies report the following benefits of closely related variants:
--According to a 2013 study published in Metabolic Brain Disease, canistel’s relative Pouteria ramiflora extracts exhibit neuroprotective benefits against streptozotocin-induced rats.
--A Rutgers University study published in the Journal of Cosmetics Dermatology found potential in Pouteria Lucuma nut oil’s ability to promote skin regeneration.

--According to a 2009 study published in the Latin American Journal of Pharmacology, Pouteria ramiflora root extracts have pronounced antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties.

How to Open/Cut:

Eat canistels like sapotas: cut in half, remove the few shiny black seeds in the fruit’s center, and enjoy out of hand or scoop out the flesh for use in recipes. The thin rubbery skin is not edible.

Eggfruits may be purchased unripe, as they will continue to ripen once picked from the tree. The fruits take no more than ten days to ripen at room temperature, and the process can be expedited by placing them in a brown bag with bananas.

Eggfruits keep for one to two months in the refrigerator at 14C and 80 percent relative humidity. It’s also possible to freeze the fruit pulp for up to six months. Mix with sugar before freezing for best results.

Egg Fruit Recipe Ideas and Uses:
Canistels maintain their taste and integrity when heated, thus allowing for several possibilities in soups, pancakes, pies, and curries.
--Make vegan eggnog by blending the fruit with soymilk or almond milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.
--Create an eggfruit “cheesecake” by blending the fruit with silken tofu, sugar and maple syrup. Set in a graham cracker crust and bake.
--Dip quartered canistel flesh in chocolate
--Use in salads as an avocado substitute.
--Make a “cheese spread” by combining canistel with firm tofu, olive oil, garlic, salt and herbs like dill and basil. Use on sandwiches, as a dip, and spread on flax seed crackers.

--Make “deviled eggs” by substituting canistel for egg yolks—mash the fruit with paprika, vegan mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stuff inside baked mushroom caps.

(non-vegan) canistel recipes from

Flavor Complements:
Sapota, butterfruit, jackfruit, mamey sapota, sapodilla, mabolo, custard apple, bullock’s heart, durian

Herbs, spices, and oil: garlic, onion, chive, shallot, salt, dill, basil, thyme, bay leaf, marjoram, oregano, olive oil, cumin, turmeric, black pepper, paprika, Tabasco, chili powder, coriander, mustard, relish, chili, brown sugar, jaggery, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, almond, walnut, pecan, peanut

Random Facts:
During World War II, British soldiers stationed in the Bahamas developed a great affinity for this fruit, often eating it in abundance.

Binomial Name:
Pouteria campechiana
Pouteria lucuma
Lucuma nervosa

Other Names:



  1. I just tried making vegan eggnog following your advice. I took:
    1 eggfruit,
    1 1/4 c soy milk (sweetened),
    1/4 tsp nutmeg
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract

    I blended it and it tastes really good. It is similar to eggnog, but I think if you put in some bourbon or bourbon flavoring (I don't drink and didn't have the flavoring)it would be an even closer substitute.

    Thanks for the great suggestion,

    1. I posted a video of this recipe here:

  2. I'm so glad I came across your blog post! I just found eggfruit for the first time and am in dire need of some advice. I bought it almost two weeks ago so I thought that for sure, it must be ripe by now... Turns out I was very wrong, and I see what so many people mean when they've spoken about about the latex-y texture. My question is: Is there any way for it to ripen still, now that it's been cut? I've sealed the two halves in a zip-lock bag, but should it go in the fridge or stay out on the counter? And if not, can it be boiled, baked, or steamed to at least make it edible? I'm so bummed to think that I may have ruined my chances to try eggfruit!

    1. Glad to hear you managed to get your hands on some eggfruit, but sorry to hear about your troubles! Well, the good news is that they're climacteric fruits, which means they may continue softening. It depends when you cut it--if you cut it when it was still hard as a golf ball and it's bitter, then there's not much hope, though. I've made the same mistake with its close relative, the sapota--no amount of sitting made its green latex bitterness go away.

      I'm not sure what climate you're in, but if it's humid, I wouldn't recommend the ziploc out at room temperature. I've had mold and decay happen pretty quickly that way! I'd leave the halves out out at room temperature along with bananas, or, in the refrigerator in the baggie.

      You can certainly try to cook egg fruit--some people do with ripe fruits and it holds up nicely to the heat. In its unripe phase I'm not sure you'll have much success... I've not come across a single instance where people use unripe fruits for recipes as they do, say, with durian or jackfruit.

      I apologize that this didn't directly answer your question! I hope this long, albeit convoluted answer helps in some way. Good luck, Hannah!

    2. Wow, thank you for getting back to me so quickly and thoroughly! It's reassuring to know that there still may be hope for my unripe eggfruit. I would hate to have wastes the opportunity to try one, especially when they sound so delicious at their prime.

      I'm very grateful for your expertise and yes, it was a very helpful response!

  3. I like making eggfruit pie.

    Mix 3 ripe eggfruit in food processor
    w/ 1 t coconut oil
    1T Maple Syrup
    a little ginger
    a little cloves
    a little cinnamon
    a little nutmeg

    Spread in an almond date crust:
    1/2 almonds
    1/2 dates
    1t coconut oil
    vanilla bean
    squirt of lime (for preserving)
    blend up in food processor until it sticks together, use 50-50
    quantities of almonds and dates. Push into pie pan.
    Scoop eggfruit (pumpkin pie like) into the crust.

    1. This sounds awesome--thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Hi Ms.Reddy,
    I have this plant at home and lots of fruit it bears during the June July season. Can you give its viability of its cultivation and its market demand. How much can I price the fruit per kg. Also any tips on how to store and market the fruit in India.

  5. I'm right here in Auroville, and would love to know which gardens have made the growing of this fruit a hobby. I've a cake recipe that uses this and am dying to try--this possibility of finding it here makes it so tantalizingly close! Any clues for me before I start calling all my friends? thanks!

    1. Dear deepa I had been to kumbla, kerala, near HAL''s unit , my cousin has grown this plant and this year they got lots of fruits , even i had the opportunity to pluck lots of fruits, lot many are still on the plant, but sad part they do not know what to do they are planning to cut thir tree.

    2. Dear deepa I had been to kumbla, kerala, near HAL''s unit , my cousin has grown this plant and this year they got lots of fruits , even i had the opportunity to pluck lots of fruits, lot many are still on the plant, but sad part they do not know what to do they are planning to cut thir tree.

    3. Hi Deepa--I just wanted to share that I managed to pick up some eggfruit from a store in Chennai called Terra Earthfood located along ECR. Look em up, as they have many unusual items; they also sent some lovely purple basil and spring onion my way! If you ever make your way in the city I'd stop by there and try your luck.

  6. From where can i source Canistel (egg fruit) seeds in bulk?? I'm from Kerala, India.

  7. I am lucky to have the good crop this year
    and we used it to make milkshake so that we can get rid of its latex taste.

  8. today let us discuss about the garden egg benefits below are some of them along with fruits health benefits of garden egg also read about the health benefits of fruits

  9. Thanks for sharing about All About Egg Fruit (Canistel)........

    Desiilaaz - Benefits of Fruits


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  13. We have a tree at home. nice fruit. Mash the ripe fruit completely. add little water. Add coarsely cut oninon and tomato. Add salt ,lemon, little chilli pwder. It makes a very nice side dish. try it out.

    1. Thank you very much Girish, I tried this at home with a lot of apprehension but it tastes FANTASTIC. I used one eggfruit, half a medium red onion, one small tomato, 1/4 tsp Salt, 1/4 tsp kashmiri chilly powder and the juice juice of half a Lime. Tastes sort of like an amazing guacamole :-). My family loved it too. Thanks a ton for taking the time to post your comment.

  14. I live in Hawaii and have this tree growing in front of my house. I guess I'll have to get brave and try it.

  15. Oh Yes I remember this fruit named Tisa in our native language tagalog and i truly agree lots of vitamins esp good for the eyes just memories and I really miss my childhood ..Thanks

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  17. Can any one identify this plant.?

  18. is it okay to eat egg fruit if you are diabetic type2

  19. please any one can inform me if a diabetic type 2 person can eat the egg fruit?

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