15 Feb2006

Chico / Sapodilla

by Marketman

Chico or sapodilla is another achicoone of those backyard fruits that you remember from childhood and you either love that you either love or hate… It ripens relatively quickly and bruises easily so it doesn’t travel too well (though these days really hard unripe chicos are sent by the kaing or bushel to markets). A native to Central America it derives its name from the Mexican Indian name xicotzapotl according to Doreen Fernandez in her book, Fruits of the Philippines. The chico was introduced into the Philippine archipelago several hundred years ago and thrives in our climate. According to Fernandez, the sap of the chico tree is a sort of gum or chicle, that is the principal ingredient in those old-time favorites, chiclet gum!

The fruit is extremely juicy, sweet and some might describe the texture as being “grainy” or even wet sandpaper like. We only ever ate it as a fresh fruit, preferably achico2cold and just out of the refrigerator. A few years ago I tried the much ballyhooed chico and prosciutto combination (the chico standing in for the fig in Italy) and liked it but didn’t love it. Nice idea though. The intense juiciness of the fruit and its sweetness complement the salty prosciutto. I have never eaten chico in any other way though it seems it is used in jams, sherbet or ice cream and other concoctions. With two seasons per year, chicos are in the markets at the moment at roughly PHP60+ per kilo.



  1. sha says:

    something i have forgotten indeed
    but we did not have a chico tree our neighbour did
    I was green of envy when they collect the fruits
    well every now and then we would “steal” some

    just plain chico… for me

    Feb 15, 2006 | 9:35 am


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  3. tulip says:

    Chico is one of my favorite fruits. During childhood days, I would always look forward to my grandma’s visit, coming from Batangas City bringing kaing of Pineras Chicos(very fragrant with thin skin). I have tasted the best,juiciest Pineras Chicos from Batangas. I heard it is one main product in Mabini.
    Whenever Im in Batangas City, I never forget to buy this fruit when it is in season. Whoever or wherever you buy it in Batangas, it is sure sweet ! Here in Manila, its a luck to buy something as good as the ones from Batangas.

    Feb 15, 2006 | 12:55 pm

  4. kong wi says:

    hi MM, how about trying dipping seeded chico halves or quarters in white chocolate?

    Feb 15, 2006 | 1:47 pm

  5. ajb says:

    We have 4 chico trees at our house in La Union. They’re usually too sweet for me to finish one by myself. Makes me think of eating moist brown sugar.

    Feb 15, 2006 | 3:38 pm

  6. dodi says:

    “Amoy chico”! That’s what we describe our breaths after a drinking binge and really, eating chico brings out the “alcoholic” scent in you. Love the fruit and yes, have you tasted the wine made out of it? Talagang “amoy chico”!

    Feb 15, 2006 | 4:19 pm

  7. Katrina says:

    I heard that in Vietnam they have chico shakes, which are supposedly delicious. Why don’t we do that here? I’ve had several discussions with family and friends about why Filipinos aren’t more creative and experimental with our fruits. In general, we eat our fruits fresh, just as they are. Except for mangoes, most of our fruits are underutilized. Why don’t we have chico pie, aratelis juice, caimito sherbet, duhat shake (actually, I’ve tried this at M Cafe, but nowhere else), langka tart, calamansi pastries, etc? A friend of mine once brought back a box of designer chocolates from Canada. One of the chocolates had a calamansi filling! I suspect the chocolatier had heard of calamansi from the many Filipinos in Canada. I hope foreigners will not, once again, beat us to making the most of our country’s bounty.

    Feb 15, 2006 | 7:32 pm

  8. wysgal says:

    Chico and Prosciutto? Never heard of that one — must give it a try. Although it’s not that easy to find the fruit in mainstream groceries is it?

    Feb 15, 2006 | 9:48 pm

  9. Pete says:

    I love Chico! My mom told me that “pinaglihi niya ako sa chico”. I used to get teased for having brown skin like a Chico and the rest of my family are pretty fair skinned Chinoys.

    Feb 15, 2006 | 10:11 pm

  10. fried-neurons says:

    Count me in the “hate it” column.

    Maybe because when I was a kid I accidentally ate one that was already well on its way to being bulok.

    Feb 16, 2006 | 7:13 am

  11. Karen says:

    There are different varieties of chico. The one we have is a ponderosa – large, juicy, smooth and very sweet.

    Try to make some chico ice cream. Fantastic! If they’re very good however, fresh is still best.

    Feb 16, 2006 | 10:10 am

  12. Bubut says:

    in Sonia’s Garden, their green salad has large chunks of Chico and they taste good.

    Feb 17, 2006 | 9:01 am

  13. Christine says:

    Yum!! Love chico too! And I like the prosciutto idea. I think chico’s smell almost as good as they taste, so why then do people say “amoy chico” to describe someone who stinks or smells like he’s oozing alcohol from his pores?

    Feb 21, 2006 | 12:09 pm

  14. Ed says:

    What is aratelis botanical name?

    Jun 22, 2006 | 3:35 am

  15. Marketman says:

    Ed, aratiles = muntingia calabura???

    Jun 22, 2006 | 1:25 pm

  16. Joe Stahf says:

    Very interesting and informative article. Chico is my favorite since childhood and I have not seen or eaten one in years now. Will this grow in Southern California? If so, how long does it take to bear fruit?

    Jun 11, 2007 | 6:12 am

  17. Sarah says:

    Chicos are the yumyum!
    I’m spending 3 weeks in Manila this following week. Is it Chico season?? I HOPE SO I HOPE SO!!

    Aug 11, 2007 | 3:39 am

  18. drake wells says:

    i live in hawaii we have 2 kinds of chico as the phillipinos call it i like it very much they are in season now an get them at our local farmers mmarket for 25c ea, the larger ones are not very good. we also have chocolate.whitesapoties chocolate are very good. we also grow cacoa,cashews, rambotan ,custard apple ,sour sop ,atatmoa .cherimoapeanut butter fruit nd many others,, would like to hear from others.

    Sep 16, 2007 | 2:49 pm

  19. Pamela Antoinette says:

    meron po b k ung articles about chico investigatory project or any other article about products made from chico?

    Sep 11, 2008 | 2:01 pm

  20. marissewalangkaparis says:

    I like the grainy feel of chico. I remember how its “dagta” was so sticky when we were young. My lola’s tree also had the big,big vicious ants called “Hantik” that really bit me when I attempted to climb the reclining tree. That was a prolific tree. Came to a point we were fed up with eating chico…now I miss it. Haven’t eaten that in a long time. Sigh…

    Feb 1, 2009 | 10:09 pm


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