What Is Babaco – A Unique Exotic Fruit
Babaco is a unique and exotic fruit that has been cultivated for hundreds of years in the foothills of the Andes Mountains in South America. The babaco is often referred to as a mountain papaya and is related to the pawpaw, or papaya, but with a unique taste and texture. Its greenish-yellow skin is pleasant and thick like a mango, with a juicy, acidic flesh that is mildly sweet and tart, similar in flavor to a blend of cantaloupe and honeydew melon.
Babaco typically grows in the warm, temperate climates found only in the mountains of Ecuador, Peru, and Columbia and is a very slow-growing perennial cactus. The cactus is actually an aggregate fruit and not botanically considered a true cactus, as it does not have spines or thorns. Although related to the papaya, the babaco’s flavor and texture is significantly different.
The Uses of the Babaco Fruit
The babaco is known for its many uses, both culinary and medicinal. It is widely used to make juices, sauces, and jams. It is also used to make alcoholic drinks, such as pisco and agua frescas. It is even used to make ice cream and sorbets. The babaco is also popular as an additive in other fruit salads and smoothies.
The babaco is also known for its many medicinal benefits, especially for its high concentrations of antioxidants, such as vitamins C and A, beta-carotene, phenolic acids, and flavonoids. It is believed to aid in digestion, reduce inflammation, and act as an antioxidant, as well as having antiviral, anti-allergic, and anti-cancer properties. In addition, the babaco is believed to reduce the risk of heart disease, and reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as prostate and ovarian cancer.
How to Choose, Store, and Prepare Babaco
When selecting babaco, look for bright, firm fruit with a deep yellowish green skin. The fruit should have a pleasant, sweet smell and should be free of bruises, blemishes, or soft spots. The skin of a ripe babaco should yield slightly when pressed.
To store, refrigerate babaco and use within a few days. The flavor may start to degrade after a week so it is best to use it as soon as possible. Before using, wash the babaco with cold water and cut into halves or quarters. Like many other fruits, the babaco can be eaten fresh, cooked, or juiced. You can also make jams and sauces with it or incorporate it in salads and recipes.
The babaco is a unique and exotic fruit that is widely used for its many uses, both culinary and medicinal. Its greenish-yellow skin has a thick and pleasant texture and its juicy, acidic flesh has a mildly sweet and tart flavor, similar to a blend of cantaloupe and honeydew melon. The babaco is also known for its high concentrations of antioxidants and its many health benefits, making it a great addition to any diet. When selecting, store and preparing babaco, it is important to look for bright and firm fruit and use it as soon as possible. With its unique and delightful taste, the babaco is an excellent way to add something new and unexpected to any dish.
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