Eggfruit is a tropical fruit native to Southeast Asia. The eggfruit gets its name from its egg-like shape and yellow color. This round fruit has a smooth, tough skin that turns from green to yellow as it ripens. Beneath the skin, the eggfruit has a amber-colored flesh with a mildly sweet flavor and aroma. Eggfruit trees can grow up to 40 feet tall and produce fruit for 60-100 years.
Eggfruit is a good source of nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and iron. Due to its high nutritional value and unique flavor, eggfruit has gained popularity around the world. Global production of eggfruit has increased over 50% in the past decade. The largest eggfruit producers today are Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
When selecting eggfruit, choose one that has a yellow, slightly soft skin and gives off a sweet aroma. Avoid eggfruits with brown or cracked skin. To eat, simply peel off the skin and enjoy the flesh raw. Eggfruit can also be juiced, blended into smoothies, or used in salads. Due to its creamy texture, eggfruit works well as a meat substitute in vegan dishes. With its surge in popularity, eggfruit can now be found in specialty grocery stores and farmers markets in many countries.
Choosing the Right Soil for Eggfruit
Eggfruit trees require well-drained, fertile soil with a slightly acidic pH between 6 and 7. The ideal soil for eggfruit should contain organic matter such as compost or manure, which helps provide nutrients and improves soil structure. Sandy loam soil is a good option as it drains well but still retains some moisture. Clay soil should be avoided as it does not drain adequately and can drown the roots.
To prepare the soil before planting, mix the following into the top 12 inches:
- 4 to 6 inches of compost or other organic matter
- 2 to 3 pounds of dolomitic limestone per 100 square feet to provide calcium and magnesium and raise the pH
- 10 to 15 pounds of bone meal or superphosphate per 100 square feet to add phosphorus
The eggfruit tree requires the following nutrients to produce healthy leaves and fruit:
|Nitrogen||Moderate||For foliage and stem growth|
|Phosphorus||High||For root growth and flowering|
|Potassium||Moderate||For flowering and fruit quality|
|Magnesium||Moderate||For chlorophyll production|
|Calcium||Moderate||For root and leaf growth|
Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium should be applied annually when growth starts in the spring. Fertilizer with a NPK ratio of 6-10-6 or 8-10-8 should be suitable for eggfruit trees. The total amount of nitrogen applied should not exceed 1 pound per 100 square feet. An excess of nitrogen can reduce flowering and fruit yield.
In addition to basic fertilization, eggfruit trees benefit from foliar sprays of micronutrients such as manganese, zinc, boron, and iron. These help prevent deficiencies that can impact plant growth and fruit production. Apply micronutrient sprays 2-3 times during the growing season following the directions on the product label.
With the proper soil conditions and regular fertilization, an eggfruit tree will produce abundant and flavorful fruit for many decades. Annual soil testing is recommended to monitor nutrient levels and pH, making adjustments as needed to keep this tropical fruit tree happy and producing its prized yield.
Planting Eggfruit Seeds or Seedlings
Eggfruit can be propagated from seed or seedling. Seeds should be placed in a container filled with a mixture of perlite and peat moss. Keep the medium moist but not soggy while maintaining a temperature around 80 F. Seeds can take 1 to 3 months to germinate. Once the seedling is a few inches tall, harden it off for a week and then transplant it outdoors.
When planting eggfruit seedlings, choose a site with full sun exposure and well-drained, fertile soil. Space the trees at least 15 to 20 feet apart. Dig holes that are at least 2 to 3 times the width of the root ball. Partially fill the hole with soil and then place the seedling in the hole. Add soil around the sides for support, then water thoroughly.
Young eggfruit trees require frequent irrigation and fertilization. Water the trees at least once a week, applying about 1 inch of water. Use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer once a month. Slow release fertilizers can also be used, following the directions on the product packaging.
An eggfruit tree can take 3-5 years after planting a seedling to produce its first fruit. To encourage flowering and fruiting, pruning may be necessary. Prune the tree to maintain its shape and size, removing any dead or crossing branches. Also, prune the tree to an open center by eliminating the central branch. This allows for better air circulation which prevents disease.
Once the tree begins flowering, some flowers can be thinned by pinching them off. This will produce fewer but larger fruits, especially when the tree is young. As the tree matures, thinning generally becomes unnecessary.
Many commercial orchards propagate eggfruit trees through grafting, joining an eggfruit branch (‘scion’) to a rootstock that provides certain desirable characteristics. Grafted trees may produce fruit more quickly and uniformly than seedling trees. Some recommended rootstocks for eggfruit include Maefu and Kenbel. Grafted trees should be planted, irrigated and fertilized in the same manner as regular seedling trees.
With the right location and care, a single eggfruit tree can provide an abundance of fruit for many years. Home gardeners in tropical and subtropical climates can have success with this exotic fruit by starting with a healthy seedling or grafted tree and providing regular maintenance to keep it productive. The reward is enjoying delicious homegrown eggfruit!
Caring for Eggfruit Trees
Once established, eggfruit trees require moderate maintenance to produce healthy foliage and abundant fruit. Water the trees regularly, applying about 1-2 inches of water per week. The soil should dry out slightly between waterings. Fertilize the trees every few months during the growing season. Use a balanced, nitrogen-based fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium such as 10-10-10. Follow the directions on the product packaging regarding how much to apply.
Eggfruit trees grow best in full sun, receiving at least 6 hours of direct light per day. Shelter the trees from strong winds which can damage the foliage and fruit. The ideal temperature range for eggfruit is 65 to 95 F. Protect the trees from frost which can kill flowers, fruit, and damage young branches.
Pruning eggfruit trees helps them maintain their shape, size, and vigor. After harvesting, prune the tree to improve light exposure in the center which promotes new growth. Remove any dead or damaged wood. Pruning in late winter or early spring as the new growth starts also stimulates flowering for the next season.
Common pests of eggfruit include mites, mealybugs, scale, and fruit flies. Signs of mites include webbing and distorted new growth. Mealybugs and scale appear as cottony masses on leaves and stems. Fruit flies feed on ripe fruit, causing damage and acceleration of rotting. Practice integrated pest management using natural predators along with targeted insecticidal sprays when necessary.
Several diseases can impact eggfruit trees such as anthracnose, root rot, and blight. Anthracnose causes spots on leaves, flowers, and fruit. Root rot disease damages the roots, causing leaf wilt and drop. Apply appropriate fungicides, improve air circulation, and irrigate in a manner that keeps leaves dry to control these diseases.
Proper care and maintenance will keep an eggfruit tree healthy and producing for 40-60 years or more. While eggfruit trees are well adapted to tropical and subtropical climates, gardeners in cooler areas can also have success by providing protection from temperature extremes and practicing vigilant disease and pest control measures. With the right care, eggfruit trees make an excellent and productive addition to home gardens.
Harvesting and Storing Eggfruit
Eggfruit is ready to harvest once it reaches full size and develops a yellow color. Gently pick the fruit once it easily separates from the tree with a light tug. Harvesting eggfruit at the right stage of ripeness is key to maximizing quality and flavor. The fruit will not ripen further once picked. An eggfruit is ripe when it gives off a sweet aroma and the stem end has a soft spot. Press the stem end gently with your thumb to check for tenderness.
Use pruning shears or clippers to harvest eggfruit, cutting the stem about 1/2 inch from where it attaches to the fruit. Be careful not to damage the nearby branches or remaining fruit. Eggfruit trees often produce heavily, so multiple harvests may be needed to gather all the fruit.
Freshly harvested eggfruit will last up to 1 week stored at room temperature. For longer term storage, refrigerate the fruit. Eggfruit has a shelf life of 3 to 4 weeks when refrigerated. The ideal temperature for storing eggfruit is around 45 F.
To extend the shelf life further, eggfruit can be preserved using several methods:
- Drying: Peel, slice and sun-dry or dehydrate eggfruit. Properly dried, it can last for several months. Use dried eggfruit in trail mixes, baked goods, or teas.
- Freezing: Briefly blanch peeled wedges or puree eggfruit before freezing. Frozen eggfruit will last up to 1 year. Use frozen eggfruit in smoothies, drinks or sauces.
- Canning: Make eggfruit jam, chutney or preserves which can be enjoyed for several months. Always follow a safe canning recipe and procedures to prevent spoilage.
- Pickling: Combine eggfruit with vinegar, sugar and spices to make pickled eggfruit. Refrigerated, pickled eggfruit lasts for several months.
As with any fruit, properly handling and storing eggfruit will maximize quality and shelf life. Enjoying eggfruit fresh, dried, frozen or preserved allows you to savor this tropical delicacy even when out of season. With the right techniques, eggfruit can be enjoyed year-round.