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The benefits of otaheite apples

Published:Wednesday | February 15, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Bright-red Otaheite apples are now in season.

They are called cocoplum in some regions of Jamaica. Some varieties are slightly round with a firm texture and with colours ranging from streaks of red to pink.

The variety which seems to be more popular and commercially viable is pear-shaped and ranges in colour from deep red to crimson. The flesh ranges in texture from crispy to soft and sponge-like. It has a mild flavour, with many even being referred to as sweet.

Otaheite is refreshing and delicious because of its high water content and its balanced sweetness. My favourite way to enjoy these delectable fruits is freshly picked and unadulterated.

Many persons, however, consider them bland and prefer to stew them in a light ginger-flavoured syrup and serve for dessert with ice cream. It can also be used to make wine. For the lovers of mixed drinks, it makes a refreshing drink with a hint of ginger and lightly sweetened.

Health benefits

I think one of the great advantages of this apple is its high water content - of 100g weight, approximately 90g is moisture. It is also a good source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant and a good source of calcium, thiamine and riboflavin.

This is one fruit you can consume in larger amounts than normal without worrying too much about a high caloric intake. It is also good to have after exercising, as it helps to hydrate and take the edge off hunger.

Watch out for worms

Choose your apples carefully. Some of the deep crimson ones are also home to worms and they spoil easily because of the high water content. So buy the amount that can be consumed in one to two days, although they may last up to three days in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

For those persons who like to experiment and try new ways of preparing food, the beautiful flaming red blossoms are eaten in salads in Indonesia and the young leaves and shoots are also consumed in rice dishes.

In Puerto Rico, they are used to make red wine with skin in place and white wine when peeled. Slightly under-ripened fruits are also used to make jelly and pickles.

With a glut on your hands, there are many ways to preserve this fruit and enjoy it out of season.

Rosalee M. Brown is a registered dietitian/ nutritionist who operates Integrated Nutrition and Health Services; email: