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The chickoo fruit is large, round or oval shaped, around 4-8 cm in diameter, looking quite like an evenly shaped potato! It has two or more seeds, sometimes even 10! The fruit has a high latex content and does not ripen until picked. Inside, its flesh ranges from a pale yellow to an earthy brown colour with a grainy texture akin to that of a well-ripened pear; although the chickoo’s flesh is much softer than a pear’s. The flavour is exceptionally sweet and quite delicious. The seeds are black and resemble beans, with a hook at one end that can catch in the throat if swallowed.
Wash the fruit, and peel it if required. Cut vertically into quarters and remove the seeds from the centre. Line up the strips and cut them into small or large sized cubes depending on the recipe requirement.
Wash the fruit, and peel it if required. Cut into half vertically and remove the seeds from the centre. Place half a fruit on the cutting board, and slice into thin or thick wedges as required. Chickoo wedges are wonderful for garnishing shakes, smoothies, fruit salads and puddings. Or they can be served just plain too!
Wash the fruit, and peel it if required. Cut vertically into quarters and remove the seeds from the centre. Line up the strips on a cutting board and chop by cutting them into small pieces approximately ¼ inch in diameter, although the chopped food doesn't need to be exactly the same size. If the recipe calls for finely chopped chickoo, you can cut it into smaller pieces and if it requires cubes, cut into larger pieces.
How to select
• Purchase well ripened, round or oval, smooth-skinned fruits with a fresh and sweet aroma.
• Its skin should be thin and dark brown in colour with no bruises.
• When you touch the fruit, it should be firm yet give in slightly when pressed.
• Feel the skin to see if it is uniformly smooth. If you can feel thick, stony areas, the fruit will not be uniformly sweet inside.
• If you land up with unripe chickoos, worry not. Line your fruit basket with newspapers or hay, place the chickoos on it, cover with more newspapers and allow the fruits to mature. Keep checking every day and take out the ripe ones.
• This naturally sweet and pulpy fruit is used as a weaning food for babies; served peeled and mashed.
• It is an ideal snack for people of all economic classes as it is tasty, nutritious and highly affordable.
• It can be chopped or sliced and added to fruit salads and desserts.
• Its pulp can be used to impart a rich flavour, intense aroma and natural sweetness to milkshakes, smoothies and ice-creams too.
How to store
• Chickoos taste best when stored at room temperature. When refrigerated, they seem to lose their flavour a little; but if your fruits are maturing too fast, then the refrigerator is the best place to store them.
• Never stack the fruits one over the other as they tend to get squashed – their skin is very brittle. Place them one beside the other in a fruit basket or tray.
• You can store its pulp in an airtight container in the deep freezer to relish its flavour all round the year.
• With abundant carbohydrates, it is an excellent energy giver for babies, toddlers and women too.
• It is also rich in protein, calcium, iron and other minerals.
• Chickoo is a must-eat for its anti-cancer properties, due to the presence of antioxidants.
• Its peel contains a good amount of fibre, and hence it is advisable to eat it unpeeled.
• Chickoo also contains tannin, a powerful antioxidant that acts as an antacid apart from contending with free radicals. Tannin is also effective against many diseases as it acts as an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic.
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