In Season: Pepperfruit

Its been two weeks or three even since I spotted pepperfruit, ‘shaded’ in small piles of green and red, set on the corner of a busy street on the Marina. The Lagos Marina.

I’m heading to a buka lunch with my besto, D who is visiting from Port Harcourt. I spot this ‘mama’, seated on a low stool in front of the most beautiful church in Lagos – The Cathedral Church of Christ with its grey and light and architecture from the 19th century.

Seen on my way to the buka - pepper fruit.  So thrilled. I wondered if I'd have to send an SOS to Port Harcourt.  And isn't that the coolest advert for our new government?  I'm going to eat the flesh and dry the seeds and do something with them.  You with

Pepperfruit, one of my favourite ‘fruits’ ever for its scent and juice. I knew it was in season for my tongue possesses a seasonal calendar so that it yearns for fruits and vegetables. So much so that sometimes, I want to pack up and head back to Port Harcourt where I know the streets will spill the beans, show forth the truth of what’s growing on trees and forests and in gardens – large and backyard.

…the season of pepperfruit, a pungent, spicy ‘fruit’, with a deliciously sweet taste and refreshing fragrance. Its botanical name is Dennettia tripetala, of the plant family Annonaceae.

Somehow the ones I buy end up in the deep freezer and emerge frozen. And black.


All that does is change the colour and dampen the fragrance a touch. There’s still plenty recognisable here.

When I look at them closer, they remind me of grubs, these small pods do. The skin wraps its juicy self so tightly around the seeds, in rows.


A 4-cm pod might have up to 10 seeds, tightly stacked.


Once I was done unearthing seeds from pods, I set them out in the sun to dry, on homemade drying racks – I’ll teach you how in a post.

They dried in a couple of days, looking like half nut and half beans. Dehydrated, they still retain the fresh bite of flavour you get from the ‘fresh’ pods. 

I want to grind them, mill them into fine powder and toss it with salt and sugar for a chili salt dip. Or sprinkle over mango sauce for roast chicken. Or make a dry rub for pork chops with apple sauce. Or add to Zobo instead of dried ginger.


In the interim, they’re chilling in a glass jar with me admiring and dreaming. 


Recipes coming soon.


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