Spondias dulcis or ambarella, (and its alternative binomial, Spondias cytherea, Malay Apple), or just Golden apple, is an equatorial or tropical tree, with edible fruit containing a fibrous pit. It is known by many names, including pommecythere in Trinidad and Tobago, juplon in Costa Rica; and in Brazil, caja-manga.
This fast growing tree can reach up to 60 ft (18 m) in its native homeland of Melanesia through Polynesia; however, it usually averages out at 30 to 40 ft (9-12 m) in other areas. Spondias dulcis has deciduous, “pinnate leaves, 8 to 24 in (20-60 cm) in length, composed of 9 to 25 glossy, elliptic or obovate-oblong leaflets 2 1.2 to 4 in (6.25-10 cm) long, finely toothed toward the apex” (Morton 1987). The tree produces small, inconspicuous white flowers in terminal panicles, assorted male, female. Its oval fruits, 2 ½ to 3 ½ in (6.25-9 cm) long, are long-stalked and are produced in bunches of 12 or more. Over several weeks, the fruit fall to the ground while still green and hard, turning golden-yellow as they ripen. According to Morton (1987), “some fruits in the South Sea Islands weigh over 1 lb (0.45 kg) each.
Spondias dulcis is most commonly used as a food source. Its fruit may be eaten raw; the flesh is crunchy and a little sour. In Indonesia and Malaysia, S. dulcis is eaten with shrimp paste (a thick black salty-sweet sauce, called hayko in Chinese Southern Min dialect). It occurs as an ingredient in rojak. It may also be juiced, and goes then under the name "umbra juice" in Malaysia, or balonglong juice in Singapore. It is also common in Jamaica. Alternative food uses include cooking the fruit into a preserve, similar in consistency to apple butter, sauce flavoring, soups, and stews.
In West Java, its young leaves are used as seasoning for pepes.
In Vietnam it is not considered as a regular "table" fruit, just a snack. It is consumed unripe, like green mangoes, sliced and dipped in a mixture of salt, sugar and fresh chili, or in shrimp paste. Another recipe favored by children is to macerate in liquid, artificially sweetened licorice extract.
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