Chincuya (Chincua, Cabeza de Negro, Ilama)

Chincuya in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

Chincuya in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

Chincuya (Chincua, ilama, Cabeza de Negro, Soncuya, SincuyaAnnona purpurea

This armored ball with its hooked shaped spines, like many of its relatives, may look like a tiny green dinosaur, but in fact, it is a delicious fruit. The Chincuya fruit falls in the family of annona and is closely related to the papausa and its most well-known cousin the guanabana.

Like the guanabana, its sherbet-orange flesh is slightly fibrous and envelopes several large brown seeds inside. This delicious fruit is ultra fragrant with a bright aroma of ripe cantaloupe. 

Chincuya has hook-like spines

Chincuya has hook-like spines

Splitting open the chincuya reveals an ultra-fragrant flesh

Splitting open the chincuya reveals an ultra-fragrant flesh

chincuya-mexican-tropical-fruit

USES

• The flesh of the fruit is eaten raw. Be sure to pick out the large seeds.
• Mash the fruit, strain it and make an agua fresca
• The nectar and inner-bark are valued for their medicinal uses

FIND IT

Native to South and Central America, you will find this in some southern Mexican states such as Chiapas.

Papausa (Anona, Izlama, Ilama)

Papausa for sale in the market in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

Papausa for sale in the market in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

Papausa (Anona, ilama, izlamaAnnona macroprophyllata

I passed this strange fruit at the market - split open and calling for my tongue. I had no idea what this exotic fruit was.

Papausa is a prehispanic fruit found in Chiapas seasonally around the end of July through September. It is similar to a guanabana but smaller. It's light green scaly skin covers fleshy fruit surrounding large, dark brown seeds. Though it is unique as when it ripens, it cracks open and must be eaten quickly before spoiling. The flesh is mildly sweet with a light floral flavor. There are two varieties, one with white flesh and another that is light pink inside. 

Besides being tasty, it is said to have cancer fighting properties and "antiviral, antibacterial, larvicidal and phytotoxic properties." (El Siglo de Torreón)

exotic-fruit-papausa-fruta

USES

• The flesh of the fruit is eaten raw. Be sure to pick out the large seeds.

FIND IT

Native to Central America, you will find this in the Mexican states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero, as well as coastal regions of Guatemala and El Salvador.

Flor de Bótil (Flor de Ayocote, Scarlet Runner Bean)

Flor de Bótil (Flor de Ayocote, Scarlet Runner Bean, Multiflora Bean, Ayocotl), Embroidered Textile from Zinacatán

Flor de Bótil (Flor de Ayocote, Scarlet Runner Bean, Multiflora Bean, Ayocotl), Embroidered Textile from Zinacatán

Flor de Bótil (Flor de Ayocote, Scarlet Runner Bean, Multiflora Bean, AyocotlPhaseolus coccineus

Flor de Bótil is a beautiful scarlet colored flower that is edible and can be used for cooking. The brightly colored flowers and green shoots of this legume are actually the belong to a bean plant - known in English as "Scarlet Runner Bean". This vine is native to Central America and can be found in the southern regions of Mexico. I first encountered these scarlet-hued blooms at Mercado Viejo in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. I bought some that day and took them home to prepare them. After that, I have seen the flower growing in the milpa, on the roadside throughout Chiapas, and even represented in local textiles. When the beans form, the pods are edible whole or you may remove them and eat the bean inside. They also have a starchy root that is eaten. The Nahuatl word for flor de bótil is "ayocotl".

Read more about how to cook with flor de bótil.

Flor de Bótil growing in a milpa in Chiapas

Flor de Bótil growing in a milpa in Chiapas

USES

• The flowers and shoots of the runner beans are tender and can be eaten. They can be steamed, simmered or sautéed.
• The flower is also grown as an ornamental.
• Once the beans grow, the pods are edible whole as well as the beans separately. Like all beans, they contain a toxin and need to be well-cooked before consumption.
• Edible starchy root

FIND IT

Native to Central America, you will find this commonly in Chiapas where it is grown in the mil's with corn and squash. You will also find it in bordering regions such as Oaxaca and Veracruz. 

White Sapote (Casimiroa, Mexican Apple, Cochitzapotl)

White SaPote (Casimiroa, Mexican Apple)

White SaPote (Casimiroa, Mexican Apple)

White Sapote (CasimiroaMexican Apple, cochitzapotlCasimiroa edulis

White sapote is a drupe fruit with a very thin, delicate yellow-to-green skin that can be scratched off with your finger. It's not the counterpart to the black zapote as many believe - the black zapote is a species of persimmon. Inside the white sapote, there is a soft creamy flesh with a taste that is slightly like a pear and pineapple. The flesh usually contains four pits (seeds) that easily separate from the flesh. When ripe the fruit is soft like an avocado when ripe. These fruit are relatively small - about 2inches in diameter. The skin is inedible some say, but I eat it. The edible flesh can make you feel drowsy in large quantities. The Nahuatl word for the white sapote is "cochitzapotl" - meaning "sleep sapote".

USES

• Eat raw when the flesh is soft to the touch like a ripe avocado. They are delicious cold.

FIND IT

Native to Mexico and Central America. Available in markets in Mexico, Central America, North America, Asia and other sub-tropical regions.

Guamúchil (Huamúchil, Guamara)

Guamúchil, a Mexican fruit

The white flesh is the edible fruit of Guamúchil

Guamúchil (Huamúchil, Guamara) Pithecellobium dulce


Guamúchil is a strange looking fruit native to the Mexico region of Guerrero. Their unique pods twist and curl as they grow on the tree. This legume's green husks blush with an intense red which hide a fleshy white or pink fruit inside. This fruit can be enjoyed raw by removing from the beans from the reddish-green shell. Remove the black seeds from the center of the bean and enjoy the white fruit. The fruit is spongy like a soft nut and has a mild sweet flavor that is reminiscent of a white nectarine.

This fruit can be found in markets and especially in small towns and villages where you will find people selling them on the streets through the months of January and August. In smaller towns you will also find people not only using this as a source of food, but as a medicinal plants that can help toothaches and oral ulcers.

USES


• Eat the fruit raw by removing the light fleshy beans from the husk. Remove the white flesh from the black seed at the center. Eat the white flesh of the bean.
• Can be dried to preserve longer to eat later.
• A marmelade can be made of the fruit
• Used as a medicinal plant for toothaches and oral ulcers

FIND IT


Find it the market and small towns on the streets seasonally between January and August. It can be found through the regions of Guerrero, Baja California, Oaxaca, San Luis Potosi, Quintanaroo, and Yucatan.