Brazilian Cherries are tiny pumpkin-shaped berries with a tropical sweet flavor. Native to tropical climates in South America, the Brazilian cherry tree is hailed for its glossy green leaves, beautiful white flowers, and lovely red berries.
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What is a Brazilian Cherry?
The Brazilian Cherry (Eugenia uniflora) is also called the Grumichama, Surinam Cherry, Pitanga, Suriname cherry, or Cayenne cherry and is native to tropical climates in South America. It is a member of the Myrtaceae and is closely related to guava rather than a cherry. It is popular in regions such as Brazil and Uruguay but also grows in North America in places like Florida and Hawaii.
The Brazilian cherry tree produces plump maroon cherries with a bright, sweet flavor reminiscent of mangoes. It’s often eaten right off the tree but can also be used in jams and jellies.
While the fruit is delicious, many growers plant the Brazilian cherry tree for decoration around their gardens. These fruit trees are slow-growers and produce beautiful white flowers in addition to their edible fruits.
The History of Brazilian Cherries
The Brazilian cherry tree, also known as the Surinam cherry tree, is native to tropical regions on the southern tip of South America. For these tropical trees to grow, they need warm temperatures, full sun, and well-draining soil. While their fruits are hailed as delicious, the trees are equally important.
The Brazilian cherry tree is often planted as a decoration in your garden. It’s a slow-growing tree landscapers use to produce natural screens and hosts glossy leaves and beautiful white flowers. The plump edible berries are just an added bonus to your home garden!
What Does a Brazilian Cherry Taste Like?
The flavor of the Brazilian cherry depends upon the ripeness of the berry. A bright red cherry hosts a sweet, tropical flavor with a tart mouth-puckering flavor that tastes acidic and citrusy. However, the tart flavors fade into a lovely sweetness as the cherry matures to a deep maroon shade. While sweet, Brazilian cherries also deliver a hint of earthy, mossy notes (like green peppers) that some find off-putting.
Most Brazilian cherry fans prefer to enjoy the fresh fruits right off the tree, but they can also be used in various cooked dishes. When used in jams, it lends a bright sweetness with hints of earthy notes.
How to Tell When a Brazilian Cherry is Ripe
These are some easy ways to tell if your Brazilian cherries are ripe.
|Checking the color is the best way to check for freshness. If it’s a bright red, it’s almost ripe but still edible. As it turns from bright red to maroon, it’s perfectly ripe.
|Brazillian cherries feel firm when gently squeezed but not hard. If it feels hard, it’s still not ripe.
|The smell test isn’t the best way to tell if a Brazilian cherry is ripe because it doesn’t emit much odor.
|If the skin of the cherry is bruised, cracked, or wrinkled, it’s likely overripe and should be discarded.
Cooking with Brazilian Cherries
Before you can make a tasty jam or jelly, knowing how to prepare your cherries is essential.
1. Wash your cherries. Place cherries in a colander and rinse gently with cool water.
2. Remove the pits. Just like cherries, Brazilian cherries have a large pit in the center. The easiest way to remove the pit is with a cherry pitter. If you don’t have a cherry pitter, use a long wooden skewer and poke it through the center of the cherry until the seed pops out.
Here are some of our favorite Brazilian cherry dishes!
Surinam Cherry Jam: One of the best ways to enjoy (and preserve) Brazilian cherries is by making a jam. It’s sweet, a little tart, and goes great on a slice of toast or a biscuit. You can even use it as a topping on cheesecake!
Surinam Cherry Sambal: For a more savory treat, try this dish. Sambal is an Indonesian condiment that’s sweet, spicy, and delicious. Brazilian cherries take those flavors over the top.
Surinam Cherry Punch: For a colorful party drink, this punch recipe is as tasty as it is colorful.
How to Store Brazilian Cherries
Brazilian cherries store similarly to cherries. When ripe, you can store them in the refrigerator in the vegetable crisper for five-seven days. These berries ripen quickly, so keeping them frozen is one of your best options.
The best way to freeze Brazilian cherries is to remove the pits and place them in a freezer-safe bag. They will stay fresh for about six months when placed in the freezer.
Nutritional Benefits of Brazilian Cherries
Brazilian Cherries are an excellent source of Vitamin C, antioxidants, and lycopene. High doses of Vitamin C help boost your immune system, form collagen (for healthy skin), and lower blood pressure. In addition to being a good source of Vitamin C, these little berries also deliver vital nutrients that promote overall well-being.
As a good source of lycopene, these berries can help fight heart disease and cancer and is a powerful antioxidant. It’s also a great source of Vitamin A, which supports healthy vision and helps encourage healthy lung and heart function.
It’s important to note that you should always avoid eating Brazilian cherry seeds. While they’re not fatal or poisonous, eating the seeds of this fruit can cause an upset stomach. Besides, the seeds don’t taste good anyway!
Where to Purchase Brazilian Cherries
Brazilian cherries are not something you’ll ever stumble across at your local supermarket. They’re very similar to mulberries grown for decorative purposes but not harvested commercially.
In tropical regions in the United States, like Florida, you will likely stumble across them at a local farmer’s market or specialty fruit stands. Most that enjoy Brazilian cherries grow these small trees in their backyards are decoration and enjoy the tropical fruit as a bonus!