Tiessa / Canistel


I just saw these fruit at the grocery under the label “Chessa.” They reminded me that I had purchased a few fruits two months ago and never got around to doing a post on them. It is practically the last fruit (where can I get those darn aratiles???) in Doreen Fernandez’s book on Philippine Fruits that I have featured on this blog… plus I have done others as well. At any rate, this is the first and the last time I will likely buy these fruit, Tiessa to most, Canistel in Englilsh (Pouteria campechiana), and which are part of the same family as their relative, the chico. They were godawful yucky! Like putting partially dried Elmer’s glue in your mouth. Yuck. And a bit pungent in a “oh my gosh, I could wretch on this” way. Sorry, there must be several tiessa lovers out there, but I can’t see the attraction. A native to the West Indies, according to Doreen Fernandez, these fruits were only introduced to the Philippines less than a century ago. According to a different source, Purdue University (excellent source for produce), it hails from parts of Mexico. Here is a link to a LOT more information on the fruit.


Mostly grown in backyards rather than large Tiessa plantations, these have a pulp similar to chico but much firmer, and a mouthfeel that is dry and very unappealing, in my opinion. It tastes a bit sweetish, I suppose, but more like a rootcrop than a fruit hanging from a tree. Maybe the one I had was just bad, but it was nearly gross. Arrggh, and I paid over PHP100 for these three pieces of fruit… the price I have to pay for hunting down as many types of fruit to feature on this site. :)


66 Responses

  1. I remember my mom forcing us all to try this when we were kids. Since then I always thought chessa meant chalk. Never had it again but my siblings and I still laugh about it and strangely, reminisce fondly about that horrible dining experience.

  2. Aratiles seems to just spring up and thrive in sub-optimal soil. I don’t think it is deliberately planted so you see these trees among weeds or vacant lots. There used to be aratiles trees in La Salle Taft’s gravel parking lot near the Athlete’s quarters.

  3. You had to pay for those??? I could have sent you a whole basket for free : ) what a rip off! The ones we have at home from our tree is much smaller.

    BTW My lola also used to force feed us chessas becasue they’re supposed to be good for you.

  4. Tiessa reminds me of eating almost rotten egg yolk. I can’t believe it is a relative of the chico (a fruit I totally love!)

    As for aratiles, ask your driver to drive around your village and look in empty lots. I’m sure there is an aratiles tree around there somewhere!

  5. i agree with the preceding comments. it seems a universal experience having the old folks forcing you to eat this fruit. i remember my sainted mother proclaiming its many supposedly outstanding qualities including taste. it was one of the very rare times i thought mama lied to me. may she rest in peace.

  6. This is one fruit i can live without…just by looking at the fruit, something not nice comes to mind especially if it is in the over ripe stage…i only tried this once and like the others here, i tried it just because my folks says i have to eat it…

  7. Yuck Chesa!!

    We used to pick aratiles in Fort Bonifacio, before it was developed. I think there are still some trees left there, especially around the area of Libingan ng mga Bayani. :D

  8. I grew up loving tiesa but we never buy tiesa that isnt round in shape, havent tried that bottle-shaped kind. And I dont eat it until it is quite soft. My granny taught me to eat it. Looking at the photo, I can say that it is likely dry and not soft at all?

  9. ha-ha-ha! I thought you would talk positively about tiessa because the first and last time I was told to eat it (I only remember vaguely…I was that young!)I had to put up a tantrum so that I would not get the second spoonsful.

  10. We call this “achesa” in Laguna. I was forced to taste it when I was still a kid. This fruit is really eeeeew! By the way, I am not sure if there are still aratiles trees in our neighbor street at the province. I would have to check when I come home for All Souls’ Day.

  11. My momther used to say its good for eyesight, but I also never appreciated its taste. Same with “mabolo” fruit.

  12. hey marketman! am an avid reader of your flower posts. it seems that there is a dearth now on your fresh cut flower creations. ;-) any new posts in time for all saints to guide us by? thanks

  13. tulip is the only person i know who likes tiessa! rotten egg . . . yes that is how it tastes.
    good luck with your search for aratiles, MM. you may not like the fruit all t hat much ( you have to be achild to love it!) but you won’t hate it like you do tiessa

  14. we have a tiessa tree in front of our house here in manila.. ours is the rounded variety.. sometimes we get as much as 3 basket when we harvest the fruits.. unfortunately, we don’t like the taste of the fruit =( we give them to our neighbor’s lola who loves the fruit

  15. Eeeeeew! Our neighbor had a big tree and the fruit would just fall to the ground because nobody wanted them even if they were free. I just don’t get that fruit at all. Aratilis is sweet and i like the way it sort of pops or squirts out of the skin. I think you’ll like it, MM.

  16. Geez, I’m so glad I’m not the only one that found this fruit revolting… :) It is supposed to be relatively rich in Niacin, Carotene (hence for your eyes) and Ascorbic Acid. Give me a break, eat a carrot instead or pop a centrum… flower enthusiast, sorry, I haven’t been buying many flowers lately, although I have three wonderful Phalaenopsis orchids in the living room right now that I got for a relative bargain considering they last a month or so. I did do flowers for two funerals or wakes this year…maybe you can check the archives if you didn’t see those? And I will probably have more flower posts as the holidays draw near…

  17. I couldn’t agree more with anna banana if eaten just by it. But what my lola usually does with this powdery fruit…is to mixed it with other fruit like sweethened saba or langka and lots of grated ice with condensed milk. it gives an unusually more flavorful and thicker drink.

  18. I remember eating chessa as an adventurous kid, who would search amidst weeds for anything edible. I don’t remember eating a whole chessa fruit, most likely I would have thrown it away after one bite. But MM, it’s great to know that you’re really doing your best to get finds like this! I didn’t even realize people can sell this fruit, it’s just horrible. It’s nice to rendezvous on the things I used to eat like tinu-tino, maria-maria, etc…

  19. Yep you know there is a catch when folks extoll food for their food value. This one gives you gimlet eyes at the expense of mealy mouthed.

  20. Our neighbor has this nice looking “persimmon” tree in between our non-fenced property and as much I don’t want to steal, I went ahead and picked one from the tree (they were really beautiful looling golden yellow). It was still hard to touch, and when I bit into it’s crunchy flesh…. oh, gosh.. my mouth puckered..and like MM said..I felt like I swallowed a whole bottle of industrialized glue. I then though about Chesa and I how it taste the same.

    I told my neighbor about it, and he gave me a laugh.. saying that’s what I get for picking the fruit without my permission. He informed me that they don’t eat that fruit till its very very soft, and almost ready to fall to the ground. And I thought about Chesa again for that is what my grandmother said when she asked me to taste the fruit the 2nd time around. It was indeed sweeter and does not stick to you mouth, I mean less astringent. Its ok, but I still am not crazy about it.

    And about the persimmon, I found out that there is another variety of it – the Fuyu kind, which one can eat while it is still hard like an apple. This variety is sweet and wonderful that my sister and can eat half-a dozen at a time. This month of Octobober & November, Oriental marts here in Houston sells an abundant of Persimmon.

  21. sonia, im not a picky eater (i can be your bet for fear factor LOL) and I cant think of any fruit that I wont likely to consider eating…but i havent eaten any tiesa since my granny died, and that was 10 years ago.

  22. We used to have a chessa tree in our yard. It was right beside the indian mangoes, and guess which tree we liked better? Chessa was just weird, not just for kids but for everyone I think.

    There was also another tree in the backyard. We kids used to call it “punong ewan” but the grown ups said it was called “zapote.” It was supposed to taste like chessa but never tried it.

    Does anyone else know about this other fruit? Thanks.

  23. And there was a tree that grew in a cousin’s yard that bore polished waxy green fruits (like Granny Smith) shaped like mabolo but with mealy flesh like tiesa only chocolate brown that we called Sapote. Must have come from Mexico too owing to the name but it was featured once in one of the food magazines as chocolate pudding fruit which taught me never to trust food mags ever again. I would not touch this fruit even if just to apply to smooth wrinkles and bestow charm and poise.

  24. We call them atiesa and cannot stand them. They make me sick through my stomach. They have scent that gives me a dizzy spell and nauseous like I’m on a roller coaster ride. Aratiles leaves are best for cleaning chinawares, glasswares and stemwares with soap – leave a sparkling shine finish on them. I could say move over Mr. Clean here comes the aratiles leaves.

  25. I can’t think of any redeeming qualities of achesa, despite the fact that I love fruits in general. Even the scientific name (Pouteria campechiana) lends itself to not-so-flatering pun.

  26. We had a huge chesa tree in our backyard when I was a child. It annoys me no end when it was in season because nobody wants them anyway, so they just fell on the ground and the birds eat them. Ang hirap linisin. If you do not tidy up your backyard naman, kulay yellow sya and you dont want to step on these fruits because they get stuck on your shoes. I was so happy when they decided to just the cut the tree off.

  27. horrible, horrible fruit….i tasted one as a child and never got over it.

    but aratiles , love it…this is one fruit you’ll never see in the market. It is too fragile

  28. After reading all those posts about tiesa, I had a sudden craving for persimmons. Luckily, it’s the season now for persimmons so I have a couple at home. Persimmon looks like tiesa but definitely tastes a million times better and reminds me somewhat of chico.

  29. Never like the fruit either…it has undescribably aweful tasting(there’s more to that ‘glueey taste’..)and it’s a rip-off to pay for the 3 weird(maybe exotic)tasting fruit.

  30. to date, i know only two people who actually like to eat this fruit…my hubby and my sister-in-law. it is probably an acquired taste (for glue), i’m not sure. i wonder if this is just a misunderstood fruit =)

  31. I never knew what my mother liked about the Tiessa. There are some things that you like as you age, like Ampalaya, Radish etc…but I didnt acquir the Tiessa taste :)

    Aratiles, I love them. Leave me in a bukid/field, do your thing…as long as there are Aratiles trees around and no bats to eat them before I do.

    Someone told me before that she sometimes preserves them. I hope she has some to give me around for Christmas.

  32. I always learn something new in this site. Never new that aratiles leaves were good for cleaning chinaware.
    As for atiesa, yuck!!!!! I also know of only 1 person who likes this fruit.

  33. Wow, glad to know that there’s one fruit I can veer away from. Sounds like a nearly unanimous agreement on the unpalatability of this fruit.
    MM have you done a post on people’s least favorite fruits? or foods/drinks? Most of us recall foods we were forced to eat. Might be interesting to read other people’s comments when you get done with all the xmas posts.

  34. Mila, that is an interesting topic… I hated chicken livers as a kid. But hated them. I still take them out of my pancit to this day. And yet I love pate…so go figure.

  35. I’ve never tasted the fruit although I grew up knowing about it. Grandparents in Cebu live in an area named after it… Tisa, Labangon.

  36. Ew. I remember it splat on the school grounds and looking like…nnggh… forget it.

    Tasted like pumpkin-gone-bad masked as a fruit.

  37. Ugh. I remember tasting tiessa when I was a little girl. We bought it at a roadside stall somewhere in Quezon or Batangas. The worst fruit I have ever tasted!!! It was like eating chalk.

  38. We had a tree in our backyard when i was growing up and my mom still talks these days about how i used to love eating it when i was a toddler — but now i truly hate how it smells and haven’t eaten one in decades

  39. naalala ko, nung maliliit pa kme, pinupulot namin ung mga nalaglag na tpos pinambabato namin dun sa bahay ng mga kaaway namin!

  40. i remember picking aratiles off a tree in our village when I was younger… it grew right in the middle of nowhere. I’d eat it after a busy day climbing trees and scrounging for tadpoles and snakes in the nearby creek… those were the days, kids now grow up in much cleaner, sanitized, “urban” jungles. :) and I didn’t grow up in a province but right smack in quezon city! I guess creeks and tadpoles and aratiles trees are part of the bygone days.

    They were sweet-tasting pink-red tiny things and spurts of juice with tiny seeds always dribbled down my chin. I hope you find them and feature them, they will bring back memories of the good old days. :)

  41. Ebba Myra, Cwid, I love persimmons. I like only the US persimmons though. It has a different taste from the chinese or Taiwanese persimmons. It tastes like a star apple, which I also love.

  42. This has got be the single most dreadful fruit! Trying it once is fine but never again. I have not seen one though shaped like an abnormal avocado but chesa is chesa, no matter what shape it comes!

    Maria Clara, thanks for the tip on aratiles leaves. We used to have this tree in the backyard and my mom used their leaves for cleaning glasses. They really do shine! I can’t remember the name but the leaves felt they had tiny hairs and bore small green round fruits near the bark (which mom said we can’t eat because we’ll die – wonder why she didn’t say this about chessa? LOL)

  43. When I was a kid, I loved tiessa. I liked it when it was cold (from the fridge), sweet, soft and creamy. I agree that it has a peculiar stink but I got past that just like people get past the durian smell.I haven’t had tiessa in more than 25 years. Miss it almost as much as I miss lansones and chico.

  44. Kulasa, Maricel could be right you could have switched “pakiling” in our dialect which they use and environmentally friendly cleansing pad for wood and bamboo trimmings in the house like the stairs or window sills of houses that are not painted or the batalan (kitchen) of the house and bore inedible green fruit when young that turn red when matured. Aratiles leaves are hairy on the right side and smooth on the other side. When using ariteles leaves in glassware cleaning you still need to use soap its role is like a dishwashing sponge.

  45. I saw your note on the aratiles – no one really sells them. It’s a big part of childhood memories! What my friends and I do is pick them from trees – the neighbor’s or by the river. They can mostly be seen in provinces, very few trees in Manila from my experience.

  46. What’s the matter with all of you??
    They’re gooooood!!
    I would like to voice my support for the Tiessa.
    We have a tree in our home in Pangasinan.

  47. when I was a kid, i like eating tiesa, but not too much… the only thing i hate about it is after you’ve eaten and you fart….it’s the yuckiest smell in the world! hahahhaha

    I used to have an aratiles tree in our backyard and I love picking the fruits especially the ones that are golden green, i dont like the red ones.

  48. I know people from the Caribbean who use this fruit for cooking and make a custard from it, which is delicious. Perhaps you can develop recipes using the fruit. Maybe you can make pastillas or add it to a flan recipe (like sweet potato flan that Puerto Ricans make). I’m sure the fruit will taste better in desserts. Let us know.

  49. ei, can somebody tell me where i could get tiessa in cebu or better yet give me some canistel fruits? as a requirement in one of my subjects, we are to produce a unique product and since this fruit is being neglected or is not given much attention, my group and i come up w/ a project using tiessa as the main raw material.. thank you… please send me an email for your response…. yabadabadoink@yahoo.com

  50. Sorry, I know this is an old post, but I found it while searching for info on Chessa, and I just HAD to comment.

    I just tried Chessa yesterday for the first time – found it lying on the ground under the tree – and it was LOVE at first bite!
    I was at a family friends farm, and we were supposed to be harvesting veggies, but after that first bite of Chessa, we were completely distracted and spent the next 45 minutes or so trying to wack a few more off the tree haha. Alas, we were unable to get any more :(. Luckily we had found one more lying on the ground, and we took it home as a prized jewel.

    I discovered that night that you can’t eat too much of it at a time because it’s really RICH. So we still had half a fruit left over this morning – and MMMMMMM it was good with pancakes!!

    So I don’t know what’s wrong with all of you….heheh, but I say Chessa ROCKS! Can’t wait to find some more… :D

  51. I live in India and want to have seed of this fruit. Please tell me the way.

  52. Hi Bakul,you’l find seds of chessa at KT Botanicals. Hope this answers your question.

  53. Sometimes, you just don’t like its taste and it sticks to your upper mouth. Sometimes, its like durian. You have to eat only half and you’ve got enough. My husband cools it and it tasted goog. It neer gets frozen even if you keep it in the freezer.

  54. I think one reason why many people have horrid experiences with the chessa or tiyesa is simply because they eat at the wrong time, when it isn’t really that ripe yet. Eating a tiyesa is like eating an avocado: you simply wait for the right moment when the flesh is no longer hardy but soft.
    I haven’t eaten a tiyesa since my grade school days when a tiyesa tree grew in our tiny school in Pasay, but I actually miss it. Sure, it aint caviar or foie gras, but still, it was palatable enough for God to give it a chance on this earth to grow.

  55. I dont think the chessa fruit is that gross in fact i even tried it as the main ingredient for my cake XD, and it taste better than whatever you can imagine of the fruit

  56. Strangely enough, tiesa was one of my favorites when I was a child. We had a tiesa tree then and one time, I harvested half a sack. Little did I know that they would get ripened all at the same time. So I have to eat as much as I could before it would get rotten. hehehe

    I miss tiesa and I miss our tiesa tree. :)



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