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Recipe: Rollinia Deliciosa

by Janelle Zakour RD

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I'm not even kidding when I say that this could be the greatest fruit in the world... It's species is named 'deliciosa' for a reason!

It goes by many names it seems. I was introduced to it as 'Rollinia' (simply the genus name) but I have heard it around Trinidad as Cashima or Cachiman. Some other names I found while perusing the interwebs are Jamaican Apple, Biriba, Amazon Custard Apple, Aratiku, Fruta da Condessa, Wild Sugar Apple... and probably about 20 more names in other languages.

(I gotta admit... The name Rollinia Deliciosa sounds very much like a Harry Potter spell. I'm flicking my wand as we speak.)

I personally think it should be renamed Tropical Magical Food of the Gods. But hey, not many may agree with me here. 

Foolish mortals :P

I first came across this magical fruit when I pursued a permaculture design course (PDC) at Wa Samaki Ecosystems back in 2011. And while the actual PDC was life-changing in its own right, this fruit was possibly the highlight of the experience. In fact, if anyone came up to me and asked 'Janelle, what is your favourite fruit?' I just might instantaneously reply with 'Cashima'.

Like how is that even a question...

My first impression of this fruit was that it was a cross between a sugar apple and a soursop. It has this beautiful, gently spiky skin that turns yellow when ripe. The little spiky nubs turn black when it's being handled. Inside is this goopy white custardy flesh (that is actually eerily translucent like raw chicken breast) intermingled with black, elongated seeds. And oh boy the taste... It is not as cloyingly sweet as a sugar apple and has a similar but not as intense tang as a soursop. It's just perfect, what can I say. Some people even liken the taste to lemon meringue pie. I guess I can agree with that... it's way better than lemon meringue pie though.

The tree itself is pretty resilient too. Some observations from idly walking through Wa Samaki is that it has the ability to grow both in full sun and shade. One little potted tree stayed forgotten under some shade cloth, and 6 years later it grew out of the shade cloth into a full fruiting tree! I think the biggest challenge with these trees is having to battle the birds and squirrels for the fruit... It's pretty frustrating to find a beautiful yellow one nestled in the leaves only to find it riddled with chew marks. Just last weekend, my tribe and I took a walk through the food forest and found most of the fruit either too green to pick or too eaten to salvage.

We did find 3 eatable ones though :) 

It does not have a long shelf life... But knowing us on the farm, they'll all be eaten before they have a chance to rot. Generally, it will last maybe 3 days in the fridge but the flesh oxidizes quickly and turns brown when cut. They are extremely delicate fruits when ripe and bruise easier than than an old lady with a low platelet count.

I have not been able to find many studies on this fruit so I can't really give full evidence-based feedback on its nutritional value. But based on content in 'Fruits of Warm Climates'  written by J. Morton (1987), it is reported that 100 grams of rollinia has:
80 calories
2.8 grams of protein
19.1 grams of carbohydrates
0.2 grams of fat
1.3 grams of fiber

It also contains Vitamin B1 and B2, calcium, phosphorous, iron, niacin, and a good mix of amino acids, including tryptophan. It has a Vitamin C content of 33mg per 100g of fruit which is roughly 75% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C. In other words, it can be considered an antiscorbutic food. (Think only pirates get scurvy? Even with all these magical fruits in the world, it's still around...)

Again, according to Morton, the rollinia fruit is a refrigerant and analeptic (it stimulates the central nervous system) and the powdered seeds may be remedy for enterocolitis (inflammation of both the small intestine and the colon), but as far as I know, the seeds are toxic to humans. 

Research is being done on Rollicosin, a new Annonaceous acetogenin, to develop a potential antitumor agent. In traditional natural medicine it was used as an antioxidant-rich antipyretic, a restorative and general tonic.

Usually I wouldn't even attempt to change something like this into anything apart from its glorious self... but I did foolishly 'try a ting a day'...

Introducing a healthy hybrid of Soursop Punch (allyuh Trinis doh kill me now eh).

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Cashima Punch

Serves 6

Ingredients

5 cups of cashima flesh (approximately 3 large fruits)
3 cups almond or coconut milk
1 cup pure honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
dash of Angostura Bitters
3/4 cups boiling water, divided into 1/4 cups

Preparation

1. Cut the fruits length ways and remove the thick stalk from the centre of the fruit.
2. Scoop the white flesh and seeds out from the skin and place in a bowl. Pour 1/4 boiling water over the flesh and mash with a fork. Remove the black seeds and put aside for seed saving.
3. Pour the flesh into a fine-mesh sieve over another bowl and use a spoon to rub the flesh through to remove any remaining seeds and fibres.
The preceding 2 steps i.e. add water to pulp; mash then strain, may have to be repeated with the other 1/4 cups of boiling water until most of the fibre is left behind.
4. Pour the sieved pulp into a blender and add the almond/coconut milk, honey, vanilla and spices.
5. Blend the pulp until smooth.
6. Chill and serve with a splash of bitters. Enjoy!

Found an interesting Hawaiian recipe to put on the to-do list! Rollinia souffle! It will be attempted and healthified. I'm guessing that cashima could even make a pretty wicked ice cream too with it's creamy lemony goodness. Brazilians use it to make wine (are they cray??)

Will report back if I ever try anything as foolish as using the fruit again for anything other than burying my face in.

Ciao!

Fun Fact: You can build a canoe out of a Cashima trunk :O

RecipesJanelle Zakour