Friday, January 11, 2013

Fruity Fridays - Milk fruit

This week's fruit: milk fruit

Also known as: star apple, cainito, abiaba, estrella, aguay

Vietnamese name: vú sữa (literally translates to "breast milk")

Cost in the market outside my house: 40,000 dong (roughly $2) per kilo

Season in Northern Vietnam: I think they're generally all imported from the South!

Interesting facts: In Jamaica, the flesh is often eaten with sour orange juice, a combination called "matrimony". Maybe this is related to the idea that it's the "breast milk fruit". Before you eat it, you're supposed to "massage" it or squeeze it gently to release the juice. You can then cut a hole in the top and suck out the sweet milk!

I first learned about this fruit on a market tour with Hanoi Cooking Centre. We got to try it, and it was ok but nothing special, but I decided it was time to give it another go. (Remember what happened with custard apples? I didn't like it much the first time, tried it again 2 years later and now they're one of my favourite fruits!)

In Vietnam, these are usually greenish, sometimes with a purple tinge, but are white on the inside. In other places, they also come in dark purple (with purplish flesh) and yellow, but apparently the yellow ones are rare.

I bought these two milk fruits in the market and honestly they sat in my apartment for a week or so before I was really inspired to eat them, so by that time they were getting quite soft!

One was softer than the other, so I decided to try squeezing that one, and the top just split right open. However, you can see the milk oozing out of it between my fingers!

Sucking the milk out wasn't much of an option because it had all gotten rather messy, but I sort of tipped it and drank what I could, then scooped the flesh out with a spoon.

The milk and the flesh both have a taste that I can only describe as sweet and milky, but I'm not a big fan of the texture of the flesh. It's a bit grainy, much like the sapodilla (actually I read that they are a member of the same family). People say the milk not only looks like breast milk, but it tastes like it too! I couldn't say as the last time I drank breast milk was, well, let's just say it was so long ago I can't remember!

I decided to eat the second one a different way, to show you the pretty star pattern inside.

I then ate this with a spoon as well. You can't eat the rind of this fruit at all, and you wouldn't want to as it's quite waxy on the outside.

I haven't cooked anything with this, and honestly I probably won't. These people in Northeastern Australia said that in September-October they have far more of these than they know what to do with, and they can't sell them because everyone has them, and they tried drying them and making jam and none of it worked. The only recipe they had (and that I've seen) was their recipe for Star Apple whip. I guess you'll just have to enjoy your "breast milk fruit" as is!

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