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How About a Nice Sapote or Jujube?

November 18, 1995|JULIE BAWDEN DAVIS

People who grow rare fruit do so for the variety in taste and texture exotic fruits have to offer. The following is a sampling of lesser-known rare fruits that can be grown in the area.

* Black sapote is actually a tropical persimmon that has green flesh. The inside color is brown to almost jet black. It is often called the chocolate pudding tree because the fruit tastes like chocolate pudding or mousse.

The average fruit is the size of a baseball, although they can grow much larger. The evergreen tree is small, growing to just nine or 10 feet. It is susceptible to frost damage. The fruit ripens over winter and is ready from March to May.

* Carambola is also known as the star fruit because slices resemble stars. It is crunchy like an apple and is often used for salads and as a garnish. The tree is medium-sized, with small leaves and inconspicuous lavender flowers. It bears in spring.

* Cherimoya looks like a large avocado. It has white, creamy, custard-like meat that tastes like pineapple without the acidity.

The tree is tropical looking, with large, oval-shaped leaves. It is very susceptible to cold weather and must be protected from frost. For a good crop of large-sized fruit, which can get up to five pounds each, hand-pollinate this plant, because we don't have the right variety of tropical insects to do the pollinating. The tree bears from December to March.

* Jujube is one of the most popular fruits in China and is often called the Chinese date. When picked fresh it tastes like a dry, sweet, crispy apple. When allowed to dry on the tree, it tastes like a date.

It's a small tree that has some narrow varieties good for cramped spaces. It's also not particular about soil conditions. You'll find fresh fruit from mid-August to the end of October, depending on the variety. Dried fruit can be harvested in late fall and winter.

* Miracle fruit is a small, almost flavorless berry that you suck on before biting into a lemon or lime. The fruit has properties that change the taste buds and cut the tongue's ability to taste acid for about a half an hour. As a result, limes and lemons taste like sweet oranges.

This is a small shrub that can be grown in a container. It should be protected when the weather cools. It also requires acidic soil and fertilizer.

* Pineapple guava, also known as feijoa, is green and has fuchsia-like flowers that are edible. Many non-fruiting varieties are used as decorative plants in Southern California.

It is a small plant that can be kept under 10 feet. There are tiny seeds in the fruit, which has a creamy texture. This tree bears fruit September through January.

* Surinam cherry is an alternative to the bing cherry, which won't grow in our mild weather.

It produces cherry-sized, ribbed fruit that is orange to orange-red. It is very juicy and has a tropical taste that slightly resembles the bing cherry. This large bush or small tree bears throughout the year, with its main crop in spring or summer.

* White sapote is hard to find in the market because it is soft and doesn't transport well. It has thin green skin and a yellow-white, creamy flesh that tastes like custard with a slight lemon flavor.

Some varieties, such as the McDill, can get as large as a softball. This tree will stay in large shrub form for several years but will eventually grow into a tree. The roots can become invasive, but it can take cold temperatures. The tree fruits September through January.

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