Olosapo: The Sweet Custard-Like Fruit of Central America

Olosapo is a unique and rare fruit originating from Central America. It’s a foragers’ favorite, thanks to its distinct custard-like taste. The sweet flavor makes olosapo an excellent addition to desserts like puddings, ice creams, and milkshakes.

What is an Olosapo?

Olosapo (Couepia polyandra) is an edible pickle-shaped fruit in the Chrysobalanaceae family.

It also goes by other common names like zapote amarillo, monkey cap, and baboon cap.

The small to medium-sized tropical fruits grow in dangling clusters on hardy, evergreen trees. Olosapo trees are drought-resistant, pest-free, and enjoy the full sun.

The fruits are thin-skinned and have slightly fibrous flesh. The mature fruits are about 2–3 inches (5-7.5 cm) long and 1–1.5 inches (2.5-3.8 cm) wide. They have an egg yolk consistency and a mild-sweet, custard-like flavor when ripe.

The History of Olosapo

Olosapo is native to southern Mexico. However, the fruit is also believed to have grown in the wild for ages in other regions in Central America. These include Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

In the 1960s, these exotic fruits were introduced in Florida and Hawaii by migrants for research purposes.

Traditionally, olosapo was a common source of fiber for indigenous communities in Mexico and Central America. As a result, the sweet-tasting fruits have also been featured in traditional Central American cuisines. For instance, Chef Pablo Bonilla, the owner of Sikwa restaurant in Costa Rica, features olosapo in indigenous Costa Rican delicacies.

Today, olosapo is still grown as a natural cultivar in Mexico, Central America, Hawaii, and India. In addition, you might find them in some home backyards where they’re used as exotic landscape trees.

The uniquely-flavored fruits are mainly consumed fresh and straight from the trees. But you can also use them as an additive to your salads, smoothies, and baked desserts.

What Does an Olosapo Taste Like?

Olosapo has a custard-like flavor between sweet and slightly savory when ripe.

The taste resembles canistel or a mixture of sweet potato, custard, eggnog, and burnt sugar. Some people even liken olosapo’s taste to butterscotch.

However, the unripe fruits are astringent and unpleasing. When cooked, olosapo retains its mild-sweet to savory flavor.

How to Tell When Olosapo is Ripe

Determining if an olosapo fruit is ripe is easy since you’ll notice some color change. And the fruits usually fall to the ground when fully ripened and ready to eat.

Here are more details to help you know when olosapo is ripe:

ColorWhen ripe, olosapo turns from green to orange-yellow or brown, while the flesh becomes bright yellow.
Texture/FirmnessThe ripe fruit has bumpy (lumpy) pockmarked skin. It also softens and dents when touched or handled. On the other hand, the flesh presents a semi-dry, paste-like consistency similar to egg yolk.
ScentYou can tell that olosapo is ripe when you detect its aromatic smell. So, the fruit is most likely underripe if there’s no detectable scent.
FlavorFully ripened olosapo fruits have a mild, sweet taste similar to canistel or refined egg custard. But they are astringent (or bitter) when unripe.

Cooking with Olosapo

Although olosapo is mainly eaten raw and freshly picked from the tree, you can also use it as an ingredient in a few cooked dishes.

Here’s how to prepare olosapo before cooking:

  1. Wash the fruit well under running water.
  2. Cut it into halves or smaller pieces.
  3. Discard the seed.

Your olosapo is now ready for use!

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Olosapo is famously used in desserts, especially ice cream and milkshakes.

You can blend the fruit into smoothies, ice cream, or shakes. Alternatively, use olosapo as an additive in puddings, green salads, or mixed food bowls. It is also an excellent topping over baked goodies.

You can also puree olosapo into sauces, jellies, and jams. It pairs well with other fruits like bananas, blueberries, and strawberries. Olosapo also makes an excellent combo with vanilla, chocolate, nutmeg, and caramel.

Olosapo is featured in a few Costa Rican desserts and purees. Check out some traditional Costa Rican delicacies that feature the fruit in Pablo Banilla’s Sikwa Resaturant’s menu.

How to Store Olosapo

It’s best to consume your olosapo fruits immediately after harvesting. But you can extend their freshness for up to three days by storing them in the fridge.

It’s best to chill the fruit to extend its shelf life for a couple of months. To freeze, cut the olosapo into small pieces, remove the seed, and place the segments in a freezer-safe bag.

Nutritional Benefits of Olosapo

Olosapo is a nutritious tropical fruit that presents several health benefits, especially as an excellent source of Vitamin C and dietary fiber.

Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant that reduces inflammation and protects the body from diseases. It also ensures healthy skin by enhancing collagen production. Collagen is a vital protein responsible for making the connective tissue found in the skin, bones, muscles, and cartilage.

The dietary fiber in olosapo fruits stimulates the digestive system. It also helps cleanse the body.

Where to Purchase Olosapo

Since olosapo is a rare fruit mainly harvested from wild trees, you’ll hardly find it in commercial markets. Instead, you can only come across it in local fruit or produce markets in Mexico or Central America. Or, you can buy it online from Indian farms like Inetfarms.

Fresh olosapo is mainly available during the early fall through the spring harvest season.


Catherine lives in an actual tropical paradise: Kenya. Her encounters with several exotic tropical fruits are more like an ordinary day-to-day eating experience. As a food writer, Catherine is always intrigued by how ingenious word spinning can create a taste and smell experience very close to what actual eating does. So she endeavors to build such an experience for her readers with every piece of content she writes.

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