Charichuelo, Garcinia madruno (not to be confused with Garcinia intermedia aka monkey fruit) is native to the Golfo Dulce region of Costa Rica, the Atlantic slope of Panama, and northern South America–Colombia and Ecuador through Venezuela to Guyana and Bolivia. It is particularly common in the Cauca Valley of Colombia where the fruits are marketed in quantity. Dr. Wilson Popenoe collected seeds for the United States Department of Agriculture near Palmira, Colombia, in 1921. The tree was introduced into Puerto Rico in 1923 and into the Philippines at about the same time. A few old trees have been fruiting more or less in southern Florida for many years, in midsummer. In Costa Rica, flowers are borne from December to February and fruits from May to August.
The tree is erect, lush, compact, with pyramidal or nearly round crown, 20 to 65 feet high, and has much gummy yellow latex. The opposite leaves are elliptic to oblong, wedge-shaped at the base, rounded or pointed at the apex, 2 3/8 to 8 in long, 3/4 to 3 in wide; dark green above, paler beneath, with numerous veins conspicuous on both surfaces and merging into a thick marginal vein. The fragrant male and female flowers are borne on separate trees in clusters of up to 14 in the leaf axils; have 4 reflexed, pale-yellow petals; the male, 25 to 30 light-yellow stamens.
The fruit looks like a shriveled droopy lemon, and has a similar rind. The interior is soft white pulp and has a slight citrus taste people have compared to a sweet santol fruit or lemony cotton candy. The fruit is round or ellipsoidal, sometimes with a prominent nipple at each end; 2 to 3 in long, with thick, leathery, warty, greenish-yellow rind containing a deep-yellow, resinous latex. The white, translucent, juicy, sweet-acid, aromatic pulp adheres tightly to the 1 to 3 ovate or oblong seeds which are about 3/4 in long. The species was formerly included in the genus Rheedia, which has since been absorbed into Garcinia, as Rheedias species are now known as “new world mangosteens”. There are over 100 Garcinia species, mostly from southeast Asia. Garcinia species from the Americas were once classified as Rheedia, but now all are considered Garcinia.
In addition to being eaten as a fresh fruit it makes an excellent jam, jelly and preserves. One word of caution, though: do not pick fruits prior to maturity. If picked prior to maturity, fruits are generally very acid, and once picked no further ripening occurs in the fruit.
4 cups of Madrono fruit, a mixture of both ripe and not quite ripe fruits
Juice of one lemon
1 cup caster sugar
Wash fruit very well, leaving the skins on and make sure you get rid of all the stems, otherwise they will turn into hard black lumps which you spend a lot of time trying to remove when bottling. Bring fruit and lemon juice to the boil. Turn down and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Add sugar. We quite like slightly tart jams, so if you prefer a sweeter jam, feel free to add more sugar to taste.
Simmer for three more hours, stirring regularly to break the fruit up and to ensure that the sugar is melted through. We found the easiest way to sterilise jars is to wash the jars and lids well in soapy water, rinse them well in hot water and place in a 120° oven to dry. Remove just before bottling. When the jam looks like it has the right consistency, we like our jam thick and chunky so we left it as it was, but you can mash it if you want a smoother texture, take off the heat. It should be deep orange colour.
Fill sterilized jars with jam, put on lid and turn over and place downwards on lid whilst jam is still hot. This will also sterilize the inside of the lids. Enjoy on toast or bread.