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What the Heck is a Lucuma?

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Description: Native to Peru and cultivated since 200 A.D., the ovoid lucuma has a hard, green exterior, similar to an avocado, and a bright-yellow flesh inside, with a texture somewhat reminiscent of a hard-boiled egg yolk. Despite growing in a tropical region, it’s considered a subtropical fruit because of the altitude at which it flourishes (4,500 to 10,000 feet). Its high carbohydrate content and firm texture differentiate it from most other fruits. Lucuma grow on 25-foot-tall trees that take 5 years to yield the first fruit; however, once this time has passed, one tree can bear up to 500 fruit per season. High in beta-carotene, loaded with vitamin B3, and fiber- and iron-rich, lucuma are considered a superfood. 

Flavor Profile: To some, the mellow sweetness of the lucuma is akin to butterscotch, while others would tout a mix of maple and sweet potato.  

Where to Find: Considered too precious to export whole, fresh lucuma are tricky to find. However, the frozen pulp can often be found at Latin grocers, plus lucuma powder is readily available online.

Culinary Uses: The powder is a natural sweetener and can be a substitute for sugar in smoothies, baby food, yogurt, and atop cereals; it’s also used to flavor ice cream (it’s the most popular ice cream flavor in Peru—take that, vanilla!).

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