Lucuma Obovata - Butterscotch Fruit (Pouteria lucuma)
* The plants are now bigger than the photo
Lucuma, pronounced loo-koo-ma, is an exotic Peruvian fruit that looks a little like a nashi pear crossed with a mango. It has a delicious creamy citrus flavour with a hint of maple and a dash of sweet potato (NZ kumara). It’s sometimes called the “eggfruit” in English, due to the texture of the fruit’s flesh, which is quite dry like a hard-boiled egg yolk.
Lucuma is known by the local people of Peru as the “Gold of the Incas”, and has been cherished for centuries, both as a staple food source, and a religious offering associated with fertility. Today, the fruit still plays a big part in contemporary Peruvian celebrations, and is the most popular flavour of ice cream in the country
The fresh fruit is very popular in its native areas but the dry mealy texture does not appeal to everyone. It is more commonly eaten in processed forms where it is used to flavour beverages, ice-creams, pastries and other desserts. Pulp can be stored frozen or dried, with the latter often ground to a yellow-orange powder for use in beverages, baking and other products. The flavour has been described as similar to coffee, vanilla and butterscotch with a hint of maple syrup.
Apart from being so tasty, they are also very nutritious. They contain lots of beta-carotene, niacin, iron and B vitamins and are very low in fat and sugar. My favourite lucuma fix is a deliciously rich smoothie, using lucuma pulp whizzed with half a litre of pure orange juice.
Another simple way to use them is in a great non-dairy custard, by blending equal amounts of spotty-ripe bananas and lucuma pulp, a cup of warm nut milk and a little vanilla, then leave it in the fridge to set. You can add liquid honey to make it sweeter but the fruit has its own subtle sweetness anyway.
Simplest of all is a mousse made from lucuma mashed (or blended) with the juice of an orange until it is creamy-smooth like soft butter, before adding a topping of fresh passionfruit. A squeeze of lime juice will add some extra zing.
If you want to recreate the powder so sought-after by South Americans, slice the ripe fruit, dehydrate them, then grind into powder. This can then be stored and used to flavour cakes, ice-cream or a decadent crème brûlée.
In short, lucuma is a surprisingly versatile fruit to grow in the warmer areas of New Zealand, which ripens throughout the winter. Every food forest should have one… or two.
Grow in full sun. Will adapt to dry locations
Well-draining, pretty hardy otherwise. Like a lot of mulch
They don’t require much fertilizer but prefer the liquid type. Grow them like a citrus but with less fertiliser, add well decomposed manure
Keep away from strong wind when young
Will tolerate light frost when established. Typically hardy -3c but shelter when young.
3+ years. Grow best with 2 or more trees together. Single tree will still produce fruit