Mamey, known sometimes as mamey sapote or just sapote, is a type of tropical fruit native to the Caribbean and Central America. It is cultivated in tropical regions in the Americas including Southern Florida, and is very popular among many Caribbean and Central American peoples. The firm, juicy flesh is usually eaten fresh, and appears in drinks, desserts, or on its own. In tropical regions, the fruit is readily available in fresh form at many marketplaces, and can sometimes also be picked wild. The fruit is known to have a sweet, pleasant taste, the description of which ranges from vanilla to pumpkin.
The fruit of the mamey is pink, and roughly oblong to circular in size. Large specimens can measure around 10 inches (25 centimeters) in length. The seed is toxic, and found in the center of the fruit; toxic extracts from the sapote seed are used in a variety of applications, including as an insecticide. The outside of a mamey is leathery, and it should yield slightly when it is ripe. When peeled back, the rind will reveal intensely pink, slightly soft flesh, indicating that it is ready to be eaten.
Where to Find It
Like many fruits, mamey grows on trees, most of which grow an average of 40 to 75 feet (about 12 to 23 meters) in height if allowed to grow undisturbed. The trees grow best in tropical regions, particularly Central America and the Caribbean. Generally, the trees are cultivated through cuttings, ensuring that the traits of parent trees are passed on to the offspring. However, sapote can also grow from seed, leading to large amounts of trees growing wild in the tropics. In some tropical regions, the roadside is littered with mamey trees, thanks to consumers who discard the seeds after they have eaten the flesh of the fruit.
It can be difficult to find mamey fruit outside of the tropics. If living outside a tropical region where the fruit is for sale, it is best to look for evenly colored specimens with no areas of extreme softness. The stems should be clipped short to the fruit, and if possible, ask to cut the fruit open to see the flesh inside; it should be very pink and somewhat soft. A high quality sapote will be creamy and sweet, while lesser versions will be either overwhelmingly sweet or intensely bitter.
How it's Eaten
In many areas, sapote is eaten fresh right out of the rind; the seed, however, should not usually be consumed due to its toxicity. The flavor is somewhat difficult to describe, but it has been compared to pumpkins, chocolate, sweet potato, and vanilla. Popular eating methods include squeezing lemon or lime juice over slices of the fresh fruit, or it can be mixed with other fruits. It is also blended for use in drinks and desserts; mamey ice cream, in particular, is a uniquely flavored delicacy in the tropics.
Another possibility for the definition of a mamey is a different type of fruit known as Mammea American, or simply mamey. This fruit differs as it is generally larger, more round, and found on taller trees than the sapote version of the fruit. The mammea can also be found in tropical regions, but more specifically in the West Indies and the northern parts of South America. It is sometimes known as the South American Apricot, as it resembles an apricot or peach; the edible fruit is made up of a brownish skin covering an orange fruit with up to four large seeds inside. Most often, the taste of a Mammea is described as being peach- or apricot-like.