Think Lucuma is just a powder? Think again! Grow your own

lucumaGuess what the number one ice cream flavour is in Peru? Lucuma! Yet many people outside Peru have never heard of it.

Lucuma (botanical name pouteria lucuma) is one of an increasing number of products that are being promoted as alternatives to sugar for sweetening foods. At $60-$100 per kilogram for the powder it’s a lot more expensive than sugar. This post will give you some ideas for how to grow your own lucuma fruit.

What is lucuma?

It looks a bit like a mango, but the yellow flesh inside the fruit has a dry texture similar to a boiled egg. That’s why its sometimes called “eggfruit” in English. It’s not meant to be eaten as a raw fruit because the dry texture gives an unpleasant aftertaste. It’s commonly used as a powder, to make custard-like desserts and to flavour other foods like ice cream.

How to grow it?

To get started, buy a small lucuma plant rather than starting from seed. To get a small plant, search online for someone in your region who is already growing lucuma. If you can’t do that, seeds seem to be available online at places like ebay.

Lucuma is easy to care for. Prune any dead, wilting or seeping branches. Birds looove the fruit, so cover the tress with a net once fruiting begins.

Behaviours

Deciduous or evergreen: evergreen

Type of plant: tree

Colours: fruit green to yellow, small green flowers

Leaf shape: long oval

Leaf colour; mid green

Maximum height expected: 8-15m

Time to maximum size: 10-20 years

Time for a new tree to fruit: 3-5 years

Speed of growth: medium

Where is it native to? Peru, Chile, Equador

Challenges

The trees are pollinated by bees, so make sure that your garden is bee-friendly and plant two or more lucuma trees together. Aphids can be a pest to lucuma.

Classification

Family: Sapotaceae (a plant family that includes many fruiting trees)

Genus: Pouteria

Other names: Eggfruit, teissa, lucmo

 

Have you been to Peru? Did you try lucuma? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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