The babaco fruit, sometimes called mountain papaya is a native fruit of Ecuador, and you can find it amongst the dishes served at our restaurant in Montecristi Golf Club.
It grows in mountains over 2000 meters and it is the most tolerant plant to cold temperatures. A plant can produce anywhere from 30 to 60 fruits annually and lives for about 8 years.
It can be cultivated in greenhouses as long as temperatures don’t go below 10 degrees Celsius at night or over 12 at day but for the fruit to ripen well 18 degrees is perfect. Colder temperatures generate a very thick, rough skin.
In Ecuador, a babaco tree begins to crop after about 10 months after planting. The fruit flavor is described as a mixture between strawberry, papaya, kiwi, and pineapple. It has a pentagonal shape and that’s where its scientific name comes from Carica pentagona.
Babaco plants have been successfully reproduced as far south as New Zealand and as far north as California, some regions of England and somewhat also in Italy, mostly Sicily and Calabria.
The fruit is cultivated to eat and to make juice.
Babaco fruit contains substantial amounts of the digestive enzyme, papain. Papain naturally breaks down bonds in proteins. Papain is extracted from Babaco and its parent fruit papaya and sold in chewable tablet form as a digestive supplement.
Use Babaco in any recipe calling for papaya. Babaco can be eaten whole or skin peeled, raw or cooked. It is often pureed into smoothies and other fruit beverages. The flesh is used as a dessert ingredient in pies, syrups, and confections. Babaco pairs well with other tropical fruits such as pineapple and mangoes, peaches, chiles, coconut, ginger, avocados, prosciutto, ham, and strawberries.
Citruses such as lime and grapefruit enhance the fruit’s flavor. Babaco can also be used as a dual-purpose natural meat tenderizer and marinade. The ripe uncut fruit has a shelf life of up to four weeks.
Now for a treat lets prepare the easiest babaco sweet:
You’ll need 1 ripe babaco
2 cups of sugar
3 cups of water
2 cinnamon sticks
Slice the babaco by its natural divisions, peel each piece and take out the seeds. Now cut the long pieces into small square-like pieces.
In a pot mix the water with the sugar and the cinnamon and turn up the heat.
When it starts boiling mix in the babaco pieces and cook until it becomes soft and you have a light syrup.
Serve it either hot or cold.
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