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What is Canistel?

Diane Goettel
Updated Feb 27, 2024
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Canistel fruit comes from the canistel tree, an evergreen tree that grows as far north as Mexico and as far south as Brazil. The fruit is often referred to colloquially as “eggfruit.” When ripe, it is said to have a texture similar to that of a thoroughly cooked egg yolk. The meat is sweet and edible raw.

The exterior of a canistel fruit is a glossy skin that, upon ripening, varies in yellow and orange tones. It is soft, rather than crisp, and it is not particularly juicy. Inside of the fruit are a few large glossy black or dark brown seeds. Some have likened the fruits to persimmons.

Although these fruits are not readily available in most markets in North America, they are available in Florida. The flesh is sometimes incorporated into desserts, such as ice creams and puddings, buy Floridian chefs. They fruit is also enjoyed when tossed with mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and a citrus juice such as lemon or lime. This recipe can be enjoyed either raw or lightly baked.

Canistel milkshakes are also enjoyed in Florida. They are sometimes referred to as “eggfruit nog.” In fact, some people have actually replaced pumpkin filling with canistel pulp in pumpkin pie recipes. Such pies are purported to be quite delicious. In places where the fruit is plentiful, they are also incorporates into muffins, pancakes, and even spreads for toast.

Like most fruits, canistel fruits are rich in a number of vitamins and nutrients. They are particularly rich in carotene and niacin, and they also have a good amount of ascorbic acid. Although they are not particularly common in most of North America, many food scientists and nutritionists feel that they are a very healthy food, and should be incorporated into the diet if possible.

One of the reasons that the fruits are not readily available in North America is that it is difficult to grow them here. Canistel cannot tolerate cold temperatures. Although they can grow in some parts of Florida, they have never been able to flourish in California. Because they have not become widely popular, they are not imported for distribution throughout markets in the northern states. If you are interested in sampling the fruit, you may have to take a trip to Florida, Mexico, or South America.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
In addition to her work as a freelance writer for WiseGEEK, Diane Goettel serves as the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. Over the course, she has edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter “Sapling,” and The Adirondack Review. Diane holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

Discussion Comments

By anon279477 — On Jul 12, 2012

I live in Florida and have a Canistel tree, 14 feet high. It is about seven or eight years old. It blooms heavily but it never has produced fruit. Is there something I'm missing?

By anon128158 — On Nov 18, 2010

I have fond memories of a Canistel tree (called Tisa in Cebuano, the the local language) that grew in our backyard in the Philippines when I was a child. We didn't like the fruit and gave them to our neighbors who loved them.

By anon125956 — On Nov 11, 2010

I live in Jamaica and have a canestel tree.

By anon29434 — On Apr 01, 2009

Most people do not eat the skin of guava, for instance, but I do! I have never heard of not eating the guava skin.

By anon11082 — On Apr 08, 2008

I live in St.Lucia, West Indies and I happen to have a canistel tree.

NO, you do not eat the skin; it's very gummy and leaves a residue on the teeth.

Additionally, yes, you do eat guava skin!!!! (I have a couple of trees).

By anon7586 — On Jan 29, 2008

Can you eat the skin of the canistel fruit?

Most people do not eat the skin of guava, for instance, but I do!

Diane Goettel

Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for WiseGEEK, Diane Goettel serves as the executive editor of Black...
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