Jabuticaba is a unique fruit that grows directly on the trunk of its tree. The fruit is native to Brazil and has dark purplish skin with a white, juicy pulp inside that contains several tiny seeds.
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What is a Jabuticaba?
Jabuticaba (Myrciaria cauliflora) is a type of fruit native to Brazil. It is also known as the Brazilian grape tree or jaboticaba. Other names include Guapuru, Yabutica, Yvapuru, and Taanumox.
The berry’s name comes from an old Brazilian language called Tupi, combining the words for turtle, “jabuti,” and the word for land, “caba.”
The edible fruit is small and round, resembling a grape, and typically measures about 1-1.5 inches (2.5-4cm) in diameter. The fruit’s outer skin is smooth and dark purple, and it has a white, juicy pulp inside with 1-4 tiny seeds.
Unlike most fruit trees, Jaboticaba trees produce fruit on their trunks and branches rather than on the tips of the branches. This unique feature makes the tree look almost surreal – like it is covered in clusters of purple grapes.
This fruit has a sweet and slightly tart taste, similar to a grape, lychee, and guava mix. The texture resembles a grape, with a thin skin and soft, juicy pulp. The fruit is usually eaten fresh but can also be used to make jams, jellies, and wines.
Jabuticaba is a popular fruit in Brazil, grown commercially and consumed throughout the country. It is also found in other parts of South America, including Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. In recent years, the fruit has gained popularity in different regions, including the United States and Europe, where it is often sold in specialty markets or online.
The History of Jabuticaba
Jabuticaba, a fascinating exotic fruit with a rich cultural history, has deep roots in Brazilian culture. Indigenous tribes in Brazil have been consuming and utilizing the fruit for centuries, not only as a delicious snack but also as a significant part of Brazilian traditional medicine.
It is believed to have potent anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate various ailments, from asthma to gastrointestinal distress.
The fruit is also celebrated annually in Sabará, highlighting its cultural significance in Festival da Jabuticaba.
In Minas Gerais, Jabuticaba is a beloved fruit that street vendors sell, and its consumption is extremely popular. The city of Cotagem even features an image of the tree in its coat of arms.
The history of Jabuticaba extends beyond Brazil, as the fruit is also found in neighboring countries like Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, northeastern Argentina, and Paraguay. In the early 1900s, Jabuticaba found its way to Santa Barbara, California. Today, it can be found in various Southern California locations and in Northern California in San Francisco and San Jose.
What Does a Jabuticaba Taste Like?
When eaten raw, Jabuticaba has a unique flavor that is difficult to compare with any other fruit. It has a sweet and tangy taste, hinting of grape flavor, and a slightly astringent aftertaste. The texture of the pulp is similar to a grape but with a larger seed inside.
When cooked, Jabuticaba is often used to make jams, jellies, and even wine. The fruit’s flavor becomes more concentrated and sweeter when cooked, with a texture similar to a thickened grape syrup. Some people also roast Jabuticaba and use it as a coffee substitute, which gives it a slightly smoky flavor.
How to Tell When Jabuticaba is Ripe
Here are some visual characteristics of ripe jabuticaba fruit that you can look for:
|Ripe jabuticaba fruit should have a firm yet slightly soft texture. It should not be too hard or mushy.
|Ripe jabuticaba fruit has a sweet and fruity aroma. If there is no scent, the fruit may not be ripe yet.
|The skin of ripe jabuticaba fruit should be smooth and blemish-free. Rough or bumpy skin may indicate that the fruit is not ripe.
|Ripe jabuticaba fruit is deep purple or black. If the fruit is still green, it is not yet ripe.
Can I Eat Jabuticaba Skin?
Yes, it is safe to eat jabuticaba skin, and it is even considered nutritious. However, the skin can have a harsh flavor and a somewhat tough texture, which may be unpleasant to eat.
Most people discard it and enjoy the fruit inside, which is sweet and juicy. Alternatively, try cooking the Jabuticaba with the skin on, as this helps to soften the texture and mellow out the flavor.
Cooking with Jabuticaba
Jabuticaba has thick, edible purple skin and a sweet, juicy pulp inside. Here’s how you can prepare the fruit before cooking it:
- Rinse the fruit thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt or debris.
- Cut the fruit in half using a sharp knife, and remove the pulp from the skin using a spoon.
- Discard any seeds, as they are not edible.
Now that you have prepared the fruit, you can start cooking with it. Jabuticaba is a versatile fruit that can be used primarily on sweet dishes. It is commonly used in Brazilian cuisine and can be found in desserts, jams, liqueurs, the Brazilian cocktail caipirinha, and even wine.
Here are some recipes that feature Jabuticaba:
Jabuticaba Jam (Seedless): If you’re like me, you love jam but hate getting those pesky little seeds stuck in your teeth. Fear not, my fellow foodie, because this tangy jam won’t disappoint you.
Jaboticaba Jelly: This vibrant purple jaboticaba jelly will impress even the most discerning breakfast aficionado. Plus, it’s a great way to show off your exotic taste buds to all your friends.
Jaboticaba Cheesecake: Cheesecake just got a whole lot more interesting. The sweet-tart flavor of jaboticaba pairs perfectly with the creamy goodness of cheesecake. Plus, that stunning purple color is just begging to be Instagrammed.
Jaboticaba Syrup: The bold flavor of jaboticaba combines with the herbaceous notes of vermouth to create a complex and refreshing drink. Just be sure to be prepared for everyone to ask for the recipe.
How to Store Jabuticaba
Given that this fruit has a short shelf life, it shouldn’t be stored at room temperature. To keep Jabuticaba properly, follow these techniques:
Store Jabuticaba in the refrigerator: The best way to store Jabuticaba is in the fridge. Place the fruit in a plastic bag or container and store it in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. This will help keep the fruit fresh for 3-4 days.
Freeze jabuticaba: Jabuticaba can also be frozen. Wash the fruit and remove the stems before placing them in a plastic bag or container. Remove as much air as possible from the bag before sealing it. Jabuticaba can be frozen for up to 6 months.
Make jabuticaba jam: If you have an excess of Jabuticaba, you can make jam. Wash and remove the stems from the fruit before cooking them in a pot with sugar and water. Cook until the mixture thickens, pour it into jars, and store them in a cool, dry place.
Nutritional Benefits of Jabuticaba
Jaboticaba is packed with various health benefits. It contains high levels of phenolic compounds such as flavonoids, anthocyanins, tannins, and phenolic acids. These natural compounds have been found to have various health benefits, such as preventing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and stroke.
Jabuticaba also has vitamins C and E, calcium, iron, potassium, and phosphorus.
But let’s talk about the most crucial part of Jabuticaba: antioxidants (even blueberries have less than these wonders).
This fruit contains a high amount of a type of antioxidant called anthocyanins. These have been linked to various health benefits, including reducing inflammation, protecting against heart disease, and improving brain function.
The fruit also contains tannins, which are a type of water-soluble polyphenol. Some studies suggest that tannins may have carcinogenic properties and can negatively impact health when consumed in large amounts. However, recent studies indicate that tannins found in Jabuticaba fruit have significant antioxidant potential and are linked to numerous curative and preventative health benefits.
Where to Purchase Jabuticaba
If you live in an area with a farmers’ market, you can find Jabuticaba during the fruit’s peak season. The fruit is usually available from late spring to early summer in areas such as Brazil and parts of Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, and some parts of the US.
Several online retailers sell Jabuticaba, including Amazon, which carries fresh fruit, frozen, and products made from the fruit, such as jam and wine. Lastly, some specialty stores and fruit markets may have Jabuticaba, especially those specializing in tropical fruits.