Elisha’s & Gordon’s Note: Mercado Monday is officially back! In today’s article guest blogger Kevin Keegan tells us all about jocote (pronounced \hōˈkō(ˌ)tā\ or in Canadian \hoe – coat – eh\). Jocote, also known as Red or Purple Mombin, is a thirst quenching fruit found in many parts of Central America, including beautiful Nicaragua.
As well imagined, the climate in Nicaragua can cause one to become pretty thirsty. Three ways to quench that thirst come to mind.
The best of course, is with plenty of cool fresh water. And while we know a couple of ice cold Toña (local beer) may be the choice of many, today’s Mercado Monday feature fruit jocote — when fresh and ripe — will also do the trick!
MERCADO BUYING GUIDE
Found fresh on a tree, in local mercado or at a street vendor stand, this small green, oval shaped fruit is typically sold in small plastic bags for 20 cordobas (71 cents) or so. Green jocote with a slight give when squeezed will allow for ripening before eating. Dark red or yellow jocote are ready to enjoy.
HOW TO EAT IT
Jocote can be enjoyed whether still green or fully ripe. When green, locals eat jocote with a bit of salt or chili. As the fruit ripens to a darkened red, you can toss one in your mouth, bite down and enjoy the sweet, thirst quenching juice that will bounce off your taste buds. The rind of jocote is edible; however some may choose to chew the rind for the juice inside. Jocote is also used as an ingredient in some drinks.
When green, the rind and the flesh of jocote is bitter. The juicy acidic taste and the tingle of the green fruit inside, along with a bit of salt serves well to dampen a dry throat. As the fruit ripens, the rind remains a little bitter, but just enough to enhance the sweetness inside.
Although there appears to be about fifty different varieties of this fruit within Nicaragua, the two well-known species are the yellow jocote which is harvested primarily during the rainy season from July to September. The other is the red jocote which is harvested during the dry season.
Jocote is very high in dietary fibre and antioxidants. It is a good source of vitamins A and C. It is also rich in calcium and iron.
For those that suffer from heartburn, jocote fruit is said to help prevent acid reflux. It is also believed to aid in the digestive process.
After enjoying many years of cold Canadian winters in a small community in Southern Alberta working cattle then owning and operating two small businesses, Kevin along with his wife Loretta, now call San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua home for several months of the year.
Figuring they would need to fund their life in a new country, Kevin took several writing courses and obtained certification to teach English as a foreign language, specifically business English. Finding the enjoyment in researching and writing on a variety of topics, Kevin now writes blogs and articles for various clients. Check out Kevin’s full bio here.
There are literally dozens of avocado varieties to choose from, many of which can be found in Nicaragua.
Choosing a ripe avocado is easy. Don’t be too preoccupied with the colour. Some avocados are ripe when they are dark green, others need to be slightly black and one variety even turns dark purple when it is ripe. The key to choosing the right avocado is how it feels. Gently squeeze one in your hand. Avoid using your fingertips, so you don’t bruise it. The perfect avocado should give just a little when you squeeze it.
HOW TO EAT IT
Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. You can then cut the fruit into slices or simply scoop it out from the skin. The most popular way to eat avocado is in guacamole. I actually like my avocado served with a little lime juice, salt and pepper. Avocado is delicious in salads. You also can spread it on burgers and sandwiches. For added nutrition try adding a slice or two of avocado to your next smoothie. With avocado the opportunities are endless.
Avocado has a mild, yet very unique flavour. The texture is creamy and melts in your mouth. In my opinion avocado makes almost everything taste better.
Avocados grow on trees. Each variety has a different harvest season. We can almost always find avocado at our local market, but price and variety vary according to the season. Depending on the size we typically pay between $1 -$2 USD per avocado.
Some people regard avocados as a superfood.
- They contain 18 essential amino acids that form a complete protein that your body can readily absorb.
- The Omega-3 fatty acids in avocado are similar to olive oil. These fats help boost your healthy HDL cholesterol levels and keep your heart healthy.
- High levels of carotenoids like beta-carotene deliver Vitamin A to your body for eye and reproductive health.
- Avocados have 50% more potassium than a banana.
- A healthy dose of Vitamin C, E, selenium, zinc, magnesium, folate and soluble fibre are an added bonus.
Elisha and I were in Cuba staying with a good friend of ours when he held up a piece of fruit as large as his head and asked me if I liked aguacate. I told him that I had never tried it. Later that night as I was scarfing down a huge bowl of avocado garnished with lime, oil and salt I told him avocado was one of my favourite foods. He looked very puzzled. I went on to explain that even though his “aguacate” was the same shape and colour as an “avocado”, I didn’t make the correlation earlier because in Canada avocados are the size of an apple, not my cranium.