Moriche Palm Fruit: The South American “Tree of Life” Fruit

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Moriche palm fruit is a unique fruit with a scale-like skin that grows in the swampy areas of the Amazon rainforest in South America. It’s noted for its intense nutrition and complex flavors that teeter the line between sweet, savory, sour, and tropical.

What is a Moriche Palm Fruit?

The moriche palm fruit (Mauritia flexuosa) is also known as canagucho, muriti, ité palm, or aguaje. This towering palm tree is a member of the Arecaceae family and is native to South America in Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Peru. It grows in swampy areas or wetlands and produces hard brown chestnut-like fruit with tender yellow flesh.

The flavors of this fruit from the Amazon are delicately sweet with sharp, salty, and acidic notes. While it’s excellent, consumed raw right off the tree, it’s also a great ingredient in ice cream, smoothies, and alcohol. It’s also considered a superfruit thanks to its high Vitamin A and antioxidant levels.

The History of Moriche Palm Fruit

The moriche palm fruit is an integral part of the ecosystem in the Amazon. German geographer Alexander von Humboldt dubbed the moriche palm “the tree of life” after observing how important it was to the plants and animals of the Amazon.

Birds of the Amazon use the leaves as nesting material, and local monkeys depend on the tree for nourishment.

Harvesting the moriche palm fruit has adverse effects on the Amazon rainforest since it’s easier to chop down the tree to harvest the fruit. There are efforts to stop the deforestation of this beneficial Amazonian tree of life, leading to the moriche palm fruit being rarely exported outside South America.

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Moriche fruits grow in long clusters at the top of the palm trees.

What Does a Moriche Palm Fruit Taste Like?

While the buriti fruit grows in tropical climates in the Amazon, it does not have a striking tropical flavor profile. Some describe the flavors as mildly sweet, with hints of bitterness, acidity, salt, and a gentle kiss of tropical flavors.

Many compare the raw flavors of the fruit of the moriche palm to tamarind. It’s sweet, sour, and a little tart. When cooked, the bitterness fades, and the sweetness shines through.

How to Tell When Moriche Palm Fruit is Ripe

Follow these easy steps to ensure that you select a perfectly ripe moriche palm fruit. 

ColorWhen perfectly ripe. moriche palm fruits are a deep shade of chestnut brown.
FirmnessEven when at the peak of ripeness, the outside shell is rock-solid and does not give when you press into it.
SmellDue to its hard outer shell, a ripe moriche palm fruit has no distinct aroma.
BruisingIf you notice any bruising outside or it’s cracked and dry, it likely means that the moriche palm fruit is past its prime.

Can I Eat Raw Moriche Palm Fruit?

You can absolutely eat raw moriche! In South America, the fruit is often served in local desserts and sweet treats, but it also tastes great right off of the tree.

When eaten raw, the flavors of moriche palm fruit are incredibly complex. Some find it’s a little buttery at first bite and even has a very tender, smooth cheese-like consistency.

The flavors are so savory that it’s also used to make buriti oil for cooking. When eaten raw, it also has more fruit notes, like sugar apples with a hint of cinnamon.

Cooking with Moriche Palm Fruit

Before you start cooking, it’s important that you properly prepare your moriche palm fruit and remove its hard skin. Follow these easy steps below to prepare your fruit. 

1. Soak it in water. The outside shell is hard, so soaking it in a cup of water for a few minutes will help soften it and make it easier to remove.

2. Peel away the skin. There’s no quick and easy hack to remove the skin! Use your fingers to remove as much of the flesh as you can. When soaked in water, it becomes softer and much easier to remove.

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Many like to peel away moriche’s skin and flesh simply with a spoon before cooking with it.

Here are some fantastic moriche palm recipes!

Paiche with Aguaje & Chorizo Salsa: It doesn’t get more authentic than this paiche with aguaju and chorizo salsa recipe! It’s savory and sweet and packs a powerful spice kick. The flavors of the pureed aguaje add a savory and sweet bite that takes it over the top.

Aguaje Strawberry & Cream Smoothie: Looking for a great morning pick-me-up? Adding Aguaje powder not only boosts the nutrition of this tasty smoothie but also delivers an interesting flavor that’s hard to resist.

Aguaje Caramel Chia Pudding with Walnuts: This recipe belongs in the superfood Hall of Fame. With nutritious Aguaje, chia seeds, and walnuts, it’s a great smoothie to help you feel your best. And with a splash of caramel, it feels more like a dessert than a superfood!

How to Store Moriche Palm Fruit

While moriche palm fruit doesn’t have a very long shelf life, one of the many reasons it’s not commonly exported, there are ways to keep it longer. Placing it in the freezer will help keep it fresh, but you can also press it into oils.

Many moriche palm fruit powders on the market have a very long shelf life of up to a year. It’s a quick and easy way to boost flavor and nutrition in your morning smoothies.

Nutritional Benefits of Aguaje

Aguaje fruit is called a superfruit for a very good reason. It has high densities of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, carotenoids, and antioxidants. While it’s an incredibly healthy fruit, the high levels of Vitamin A are its claim to health food fame.

Just one serving of Aguaje has 25 times as much Vitamin A as a carrot! Diets rich in Vitamin A help support healthy skin and eyes and promotes good eye health.

It’s also important to note that language is high in Vitamin E, which supports healthy skin and is a powerful antioxidant that cleanses free radicals from the system.

Where to Purchase Moriche Palm Fruit

Finding moriche palm fruit at your local grocery store is rare. You may have some luck at local farmer’s markets or specialty fruit stores, especially if you live closer to South America.

If you are more concerned with the health benefits of this fruit rather than the flavor, opting for powdered aguaje is your next best option. Powdered brands are available on online stores like Amazon and deliver aguaje flavors and nutrition without the need to take a trip to South America.

Tara Summerville

Tara Summerville is a freelance writer with a deep love for food. She loves baking sweet treats and experimenting with different fruits and veggies for her morning smoothies. When she’s not writing, she loves powerlifting, baking, gardening, playing video games, and caring for her cats!

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