Along the road bordering the southern moat of Angkor Wat, we found a stall with fruit in white and purple clusters at the size and shape of an orange, with creamy white flesh. These are milk fruits.
Milk fruit is known to be a popular tropical fruit indigenous to Cambodia (phlai teuk-doh koh) and Vietnam (vú sữa). The underbelly of the leaf is a greenish purple hue, while the top is a deep green. The smooth, round plant contains sticky white latex and can grow to about 200 grams in weight. There are two types of milk fruit: purple and white. The exterior of the compound fruit is either white or deep purple when ripe and light green when unripe. A creamy white flesh lies beneath the skin and tastes juicy and sweet.
Their fragrantly sweet white flesh to taste and milky white juice (a little like congealed milk) are probably what gives them their name, although the skins of the young fruit oozes a milky sap when cut.
Despite it being a great favorite with locals and most of the foreigners who buy it, growers don't plant this tree widely as it takes one tree seven to eight years to mature and bear fruit and the surface root system takes up a lot of land, preventing any other crops from growing beside it or near it. Even with a good yield, though, growers can only make between $25 to $35 from each annual harvest. A cluster of a dozen costs between 4500 and 6000 riel, or around a dollar to $1.50. So there are obvious reasons why milk fruit was much rarer than other fruits such as mango or jackfruit.
The most popular way to enjoy the fruit is to squeeze the tough fruit until it becomes tender, so that the juice mixes with the meat of the fruit. A small hole is then cut at the top so the juice can be sucked out. While enjoying the fresh food, be careful not to eat the few seeds imbedded in its flesh.
Next time you come to Cambodia, make sure to ask for phlai teuk-doh koh and taste some.
Critiques | Translate
ChristineLe (59) 2006-08-01 12:45
After your picture, I have made a search on the “milk fruit” by talking to a friend of mine who is a botanist, and found some related info that I think I should contribute to your posting.
Actually, this fruit is rather called star apple since it has a star-shaped core that becomes visible when the fruit is cut through its width. Its botanical name is Chrysophyllum cainito. In Spanish, it is usually caimito or estrella; in Portuguese, cainito or ajara; in French, generally, caimite or caimitier; in Haiti, pied caimite or caimitier a feuilles d'or; in the French West Indies, pomme surette, or buis; in the Virgin Islands, cainit; in Trinidad and Tobago, it is caimite or kaimit; in Barbados, star-plum; in Colombia, it may be caimo, caimo morado (purple variety) or caimito maduraverde (green variety); in Bolivia, caimitero, or murucuja; in Surinam, sterappel, apra or goudblad boom; in French Guiana, macoucou; in Belize, damsel; in El Salvador, guayabillo; in Argentina, aguay or olivoa. The Chinese in Singapore call it "chicle durian".
Star apple is planted in large areas in Mekong Delta, Vietnam and Cape Tribulation, Australia.
Although star apple is identified as a native of Central America and West Indies, we can find it in India, China, the Philippines, Florida, and Hawaii.
Besides serving as food, star apple is also used as medicinal herb: in Venezuela and Cuba, people use its seeds as a diuretic and febrifuge, and a decoction of the leaves is used as a cancer remedy, while a decoction of the bark is used as a treatment for diabetes. In the Philippines, decoction of leaves is used to treat diarrhea and fresh fruit against diabetes.
TRASH (0) 2006-08-01 16:45
This is one of my favorites.
In Vietnam, this fruit (vú sữa) is very popular. In Hue city where I am from, the villages that have a lot of milkfruit trees are Kim Long, Phú Cam.
In the South, I saw many of these in Hố Nai, Đồng Nai Province — along National Road 1 just off the former American Long Binh logistic base.
Sue77584 (0) 2006-08-04 11:03
Mine too, it is one of my 'top ten tropical fruits'.
In Asian markets in the USA, we could only find them in frozen packages, so I appreciate this 'fresh' one, even though it is just a photo!
- Copyright: Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) (8456)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2005-03-05
- Categories: Food
- Camera: Canon EOS 10D, Canon EF 24-70mm L, SanDisk Ultra II 2Gg
- Exposure: f/2.8, 1/750 seconds
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): Fruits and vegetables close ups [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2006-08-01 5:33