Mabolo or Kamagong is indigenous to the Philippine archipelago. So local, in fact, that it doesn’t really have an English name, though some literature has referred to it as a “velvet apple” or in India, as a “peach bloom.” Mabolo (Diospyros blancoi A. DC.) is a member of the Edenaceae family and thrives in low and medium level rain forests in the Philippines. Today it is often planted by roadsides for their shade or as an ornamental plant in some gardens. It is a handsome tree with lush foliage. The fruit has a stunning red velvety feel or fuzz that is brilliant to look at; however, it does come with a pungent aroma that many might find off-putting. I had never eaten or come close to a Mabolo before so when I spotted dozens of brilliant red fruit at a Batangas roadside stand last week I thought I should buy some and learn more about this fruit.
I was simply unprepared for the smellâ€¦ purchased on the same trip as the Jackfruit or Langka of earlier posts, this fruit let off a â€œripe cheeseâ€ aroma that would make some a little car sick. It seems the smell emanates from the skin and not the pulp of the fruit. An almost perfect sphere, the red velvety skin is similar to that of the fuzzy skin on a firm peach. Apparently Mabolo can also come in a yellowish brown variety though the pulp is similar. Inside is a cream colored pulp with a consistency more akin to a sandy or cottony apple but with a flavor that is reminiscent of bananas and apples mixed together. It can have a few seeds or occasionally it is seedless. I was not a convert; I donâ€™t have to give this another try for another 40 yearsâ€¦
The fruit has been introduced to Indonesia and Malaysia and in the late 1800’s made its way to India. Seeds were also sent to the U.S. and the plant has been successfully raised in Florida, Hawaii and other warm areas though it was never raised commercially. Though I have very little knowledge and experience with this fruit, I gather it is yet another of those backyard fruits that others may have stronger childhood memories of. To serve, peel the fruit and stick it in the fridge for 3-4 hours. The smell will have mostly disappeared (as it is in the skin) and you can enjoy the chilled pulp. Most people who consume this fruit do so when it has ripened and it’s flesh is cut into wedges or scooped out with a small spoon. I am curious to see if many Marketmanila readers are fond of this fruit…