Lucuma: Superfood of the Incas

Since I provided an eggnog recipe which contains lucuma powder, I wanted to provide more information on this superfruit form Peru. So here is a spotlight on this wonderful fruit favored by the Incan Empire.

Lucuma (Pouteria lucuma) or lucma is a subtropical fruit native to to the cool highlands of coastal valleys of Peru’s Andean region. With its high nutritional value, it has been an important crop for the Moche (the indigenous people of coastal Peru) since ancestral times and its image appears on many ceramic remains dug up from ancient Incan ruins. In fact, it was once referred to as the Gold of the Incas and is one of the lost crops of the Incas.

Natural Sugar Substitute

Lucuma is often referred to as “eggfruit”, which refers to the fruits’ dry flesh, which is similar in texture to a hard-boiled egg yolk. It is a very nutritious fruit, having high levels of carotene, vitamin B3, and other B vitamins. The fruit is green, with a bright yellow flesh that is often fibrous and is round or ovoid shaped. Lucuma fruit is naturally sweet and is a healthy alternative to sugar. lucuma powder may be useful for diabetics because unlike many sweeteners that offer empty calories, lucuma sweetens dishes without increasing blood sugar levels. It is often used in deserts because it helps combine and emulsify fats and oils with sugars and polysaccharides plus it tastes really good.

A Unique Flavor Peruvians Love

It’s flavor is hard to describe, but it has a unique flavor of maple and sweet potato. Some say it tastes like caramel custard and others say it tastes like pumpkin. Its texture, unlike most fruits, is dry with a paste-like consistency that melts in your mouth and is often used in deserts and ice cream. In Chile and Peru it is often preferred over chocolate, and vanilla flavor ice cream. Lucuma fruit powder can be added to any beverage, smoothie, yogurt, granola, pudding or pastry and as I already mentioned, ice cream. It is a great way to fortify the nutritional content of desserts and other sweet dishes. Lucuma is also great as a baby food that kids really like and is really good for them.

Lucuma in America

Lucuma trees have been grown successfully in subtropical foothills of California and Hawaii but attempts at growing lucuma in Florida’s climate typically fail. It is also grown in Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Costa Rica. In Asia, it is grown in both Lao People’s Democratic Republic and in Vietnam. Because the fruit ripens quickly and its limited cultivation here in the USA, it may be difficult to find fresh Lacuma. In areas with a large Latin American or Peruvian population, you may find them in the freezer section of a local Latin market. More often than not, it is found in natural food stores or online in freeze dried or dehydrated form, which is shelf stable and easily shipped.

Try it for yourself and tell me what you think.