Nanche fruit: a natural treasure with multiple benefits

Consumed fresh, the ripe yellow nanche fruit has a slightly cheesy aroma and a characteristic sweet and sour flavor. The consumption of this fruit promotes health due to its composition of fiber, vitamin C and carotenoids.

Nanche fruit: a natural treasure with multiple benefits
The nanche, nance, or changunga, is a small yellow fruit, with a sweet flavor and strong aroma. Photo: Agricultura

In Mexico, the fruit of the nanche, nance, or changunga tree (Byrsonima crassifolia L.) is known in tropical and subtropical zones. However, it is not exclusive to Mexico, as it is also native to other countries of the American continent; in Brazil, for example, it is called murici.

Consumed fresh, the ripe yellow fruit has a slightly cheesy aroma and a characteristic sweet and sour flavor. Two types of nanche are known: sweet and sour. These characteristics have allowed that, besides being marketed as fresh fruit, traditional products are elaborated; among the best known are preserves and beverages. The consumption of this fruit promotes health due to its composition in fiber, vitamin C, and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.

The highest yielding harvests occur in June and July and are obtained mainly by harvesting from wild trees and in some cases from backyard trees. However, little by little, through empirical knowledge and research, advances in technology have been made to establish it as a profitable crop.

In addition to the consumption of the fruit, its seed can be used for bioremediation of contaminated water and as a source of oil rich in palmitic, stearic, and linoleic fatty acids.

Its use is vast, for example, the tree is used to generate shade and for the construction of living fences, in addition to being used in the recovery of deforested areas and as pollinator niches. The wood is also used in carpentry and handicrafts and as firewood. In addition, the leaves contain compounds with antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, which is why some populations use them as home remedies for some health ailments.

The tree, wood, leaves, and fruit of the nanche are resources that, due to their multiple applications, can be used to strengthen the economies of communities in Mexico. In the context of the integral use of the nanche, on June 14, 2022, a collaboration agreement was signed between the Technological University of Hermosillo (UTH) and the Center for Research in Food and Development (CIAD) for the implementation of the project "Development of innovative gastronomic products in mango, grape, and nanche, as well as other food matrices".

Concerning the nanche, food formulations are being developed and transformation and preservation processes are being standardized to add value to this fruit and make it more widely known and distributed to areas where it is not possible to obtain it as fresh fruit.

Collaboration of Eber Addí Quintana Obregón, Researcher for Mexico Conacyt commissioned to CIAD, and Miguel Ángel Martínez Téllez, researcher of the Coordination of Food of Plant Origin of CIAD.