Babaco (Carica pentagona), pronounced buh-BAH-co, is an unusual Papaya relative with a unique flavour, the babaco fruit is seedless and the smooth skin can be eaten, and is said to have tastes of strawberry, papaya, kiwi and pineapple.
The fruit is star-shaped when sliced, so it makes an attractive addition to platters.
You can eat the entire fruit; it can be added to smoothies, sauces, and salsa.
Native to the Andes of northwestern South America from Colombia south to central Chile, the fruit grows in bunches on the stem of the babaco tree. Babaco has a cylinder-like shape.
The skin is yellow and the fruit has juicy yellow flesh. Its juice is a popular drink in Ecuador.
The fruit is eaten raw when yellow or the green fruit can be used as a vegetable, though it needs to be well cooked (best in curries or made into chutney).
Babaco syrup is also sold commercially in South America. Pieces of the fruit can be added to fruit salads.
Babaco can be processed in a blender with sugar or honey as a drink, or with ice cream or frozen yoghurt as a milkshake.
It contains three times the amount of papain as in papaya and is considered as an excellent source of vitamin A and C.
Our body needs vitamin C which mainly helps to heal wounds and also to maintain healthy gums.
It also contains ascorbic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, water, protein, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, magnesium, carbohydrate and fat.
Babaco fruit contains substantial amounts of the digestive enzyme, papain.
Papain naturally breaks down bonds in proteins. Papain is extracted from Babaco and its parent fruit papaya and sold in chewable tablet form as a digestive supplement.
Potassium in this fruit is an important component of cell and body fluids and helps control heart rate and blood pressure countering effects of sodium.
With its vitamin A, C and E content babaco attributes considerably to maintain the eye sight healthy and balanced, it aids digestion and helps to maintain a healthy skin.