Fruit Friday: Papayuela

This week’s fruit is another mega-exotic fruit, the papayuela, more commonly known as babaco in Ecuador. It’s another one of those high-altitude fruits, preferring to live above 2,000 m. This makes it difficult to cultivate outside its native land Loja (southern Ecuador), but New Zealand is one of the few other places that manages. It is believed to be a hybrid between two other fruits: mountain papaya and some other papaya-like fruit with an unpronounceable name. Personally, I think papayuela is more fitting since it hints to its relation to the papaya. It’s like a smaller version of it, though not at all alike inside. 

I have eaten this fruit in the common “aromática” or herbal tea, which is made with fruit peels and herbs. The inside is a little jelly-like with rather pretty seeds that almost look like mini pine cones. Its more elaborate appearance is in a dessert called “dulce de papayuela” (I have yet to try it, but I hear it’s fit for the gods). The taste is probably the most elusive flavor I have tasted, I’m not even sure I can begin to describe it. It’s fresh and subtle, a little like pineapple, strawberry, and orange together.

Of course, it too has medicinal uses. You can make a papayuela cough syrup at home: cut off the outside and take out the seeds, put in some honey, cook in a pot until it releases a syrup, which you should drink warm.

For all of you who celebrated Thanksgiving: enjoy all the left-overs, especially the sweet potatoes and pie! We are having our own feast this weekend, so check in to hear about that. That concludes our Fruit Friday.

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