Monday, July 18, 2011

Apel Hutan--Forest Apple

 The variety of fruit available in Java is astounding.  With a temperature that varies only slightly from month to month, and an even parsing of day and night throughout the year--sunrise and sunset forever between five and six--Java is not an island one would expect to find seasonal differences in what fruit is available.  Although certain fruit is available throughout the year, papaya, for example, others such as klengkeng (longan, a fruit similar to lychee) and rambutan (another fruit related to lychees) are only available for a month or two. 

It is my misfortune that my favorite variety of mango, and the one that is generally most prized in Indonesia, harum manis (sweet smelling), is not really in season in Java during the months Tjing and I are able to visit.  After tasting the mangoes that are available in Indonesia (and there are tens of different varieties), I am always disappointed by those I get in California. 

Yesterday my sister-in-law Lili brought home a new fruit for me to try.  Apel hutan (forest apple) are about the size of softballs.  The light green exterior is of a cork-like consistency, firm yet yielding, about a quarter inch thick.  The ivory flesh is the texture of honeydew melon that has just passed the peak of ripeness. The taste is reminiscent of honeydew as well, but without the aggressive sweetness. 

Sliced in half, each half serves as its own bowl.  The flesh is spooned from the shell like a creamy pudding.  I can find no mention of this fruit elsewhere and Tjing and others in her family had never had it before either.  Perhaps it is known by a different name elsewhere?  If you have any information on this, I’d love to hear it.


  1. Vietnamese call it milk fruit, er actually, we call it vu sua, which is breast milk. :P The scientific name is chrysophyllum cainito.

  2. WC,
    Thanks for the information. We never came across this while we were living in Vietnam, but it has likely been imported by growers in Indonesia. Dragon fruit was unknown here until imported in the last decade, but it is now the "it" fruit.

  3. I haven't seen these fruit either while living back home. I will check with my friends and relatives. Very interesting fruit indeed.

  4. I've just received some info from my friends. This fruit is usually found throughout East Java (Malang, Blitar, Lumajang, Jember, Situbondo, Bondowoso etc) and Madura. Some are found in Central Java (Salatiga).
    Almost unknown in West Java or Jakarta.
    The fruit bears a few names: Kenitu, Kernatu, Gernitu, Genitu, Sawo Bludru, Sawo Ijo, Sawo Mandala.
    Interesting way to eat: Crack the fruit with the door (jepit pintu), then scoop the fruit.
    Wow... I learn something new today!

  5. manicuh.... yummy.


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