Latest posts by Caroline Rangel (see all)
- Exploring Mykonos: Things To See and To Do - August 23, 2016
- The Surreal Lençóis Maranhenses National Park - June 16, 2016
- Heart of Palm Creamy Pie (Torta Cremosa de Palmito) - June 16, 2016
I just returned from a trip to Maranhão and Pará states on northern Brasil and both places introduced me to a whole new bunch of fruits!
Pará borders Suriname and Guyana and is the entry state to the Brazilian Amazonia. Maranhão is neighboured to Pará.
Maranhão is also home to an important area of environmental preservation: the dunes of Lençóis! The experience was so tasty that I decided to write about it!
Brazil has so many fruits!
Every region has its typical fruits due to many different types of land and climate.
Brazilians eat fruits for breakfast, as a snack and as a dessert right after lunch and dinner. We also use fruits to prepare ice cream, cakes, yogurt, puddings, jelly, mousses, sauces and even beer!
The most common fruits are mangoes, papayas, pineapples, grapes, oranges and bananas, but certain fruits can only be found at specific places or during certain seasons.
I had to be careful while walking the streets of Belém, Pará’s capital city. There were so many mango trees… Sometimes a mango falls from the tree and strikes the passing people on the head! Last month I heard on the news an elderly man was struck on the head by a mango and died as a result. =[
My list starts with the fruits that were new to me and then I will talk about some popular fruits from the same region that I already knew, but might be new to you!
My New Favourite Fruit: Bacuri!
Actually the bacuri fruit is very ugly! It would never win any botanical beauty contest…
I tried bacuri in several forms over several days and no matter how it was presented to me, I loved it! Juice, pudding, ice cream, caipirinha, jelly… I want to have a bacuri tree on my backyard! Bacuri is one of the fruits from the Amazon, it grows wild on tall trees throughout the Amazon basin.
The fruit has a thick yellowish brown skin and sticky pulp. I’m not very good at describing flavours, but I can say it’s both sweet and tart.
In Belém, I’ve been to a small local brewery called Amazon Beer. They created a beer called ‘Forest Bacuri’, a fruit beer made with bacuri, it won a bronze medal at the International Beer Challenge and a gold medal at the Brazilian Beer Contest!
I tried Sapoti ice cream and it was exceptionally sweet. Again, it’s not gorgeous, it’s just anonymous and rather boring fruit when you look at it. Sapoti is normally eaten raw, although it is also processed into jam, juice, ice cream, and syrup.
I tried taperebá juice and ice cream (I’m an ice cream lover). Taperebá is very popular on northern Brazil, where it is also known as cajá. This fruit look like a tiny mango and tastes like one too. Taperebá is mostly used to make juices and ice-creams.
I’ve eaten murici as jelly, it’s both sweet and acid, reminded me a bit of guava. Muricis are used mostly in the preparation of juices, sweets, and ice creams. I googled it and discovered that it has medicinal properties as well.
I drank Mangaba juice and I hated it. I couldn’t finish it, I offered it to my boyfriend, and he drank it with a funny look on his face. Feel free to try it… It’s acid and greenish… Sorry mangaba.
On the road to Lençóis National Park I saw many trees with a weird fruit. I asked the guide about it and he told me it was jatobá. It’s eatable, but commonly used for medicinal purposes. Later I learned it’s usually consumed as flour in rural areas, in the form of bread, cookies, cakes or mixed with milk.
Walking through the halls of Ver-o-Peso open market in Belém I found a street vendor selling a different fruit:
I asked him what it was, and he introduced me to Piquiá, also called Pequi. It’s usually cooked with rice, chicken and fish, a popular ingredient in Pará’s recipes.
Another street vendor told me about pupunha, the fruit of the pupunheira palm:
I know pupunha as a type of palmito (in English: heart of palm), but not as a fruit.
Tucumã is the fruit of a palm too. The fruit is widely consumed in the state of Pará, in fact, the fruit is so closely associated with the state that it is called tucumã of Pará.
Babaçu is a type of coconut typical from Maranhão state. It’s used to prepare cakes, cookies and regional recipes:
The acerola fruit is very sour and really rich on vitamin C, 30 times more vitamin C than an orange. Acerola is often consumed as juice and sold as a powder or as part of other vitamins or daily supplements. A couple teaspoons of acerola powder in your diet every day provides more than enough Vitamin C to keep you healthy and happy.
The weirdest one of them all! Guaraná looks like an orange eyeball. Historically it was used by the native tribes of the Amazon to stay alert for long periods of time. One berry contains more than twice as much caffeine as a coffee bean!
It’s very juicy and sweet and became very popular as a supplement to boost metabolism. Guaraná also provides the name of one of the most important soft drinks of Brazil, if not the main one, then certainly the most iconic.
This fruit comes from an Amazon tree related to the cacao. Cupuaçu looks a bit like a coconut and has a creamy pulp, it has an acidity that goes really well with chocolate and other sweets. During my trip I tried a chocolate made of cupuaçu! Since it’s in the same family with the cacao, there are small communities producing this new type of chocolate!
I’ve tried cupuaçu in several forms: juice, jelly, pie, ice cream, bonbon, liqueur, and even beer! And now even chocolate!
Açaí is a small round purple berry that grows only in the Amazon. Known by the Amazon tribes for centuries, açaí has gained worldwide popularity for its wide array of health benefits. Rich in antioxidants and vitamins, it’s very popular in smoothies, juices, powders, supplements, energy drinks, and weight loss products.
In Brazil, you can get açaí just about everywhere, including on the beach. There are shops dedicated to sell it. I usually eat a bowl of the frozen pulp with guaraná syrup, granola and sliced bananas, but in Pará I discovered locals like to eat their açaí with fish, no sugar! This was new to me. I tried, but I prefer to forget this episode.
Also called soursop, graviola is a green, spiny fruit. The pulp is creamy and white, and it ranges in flavour from being tart to semi-sweet. I’m not a big fan of graviola, but it’s used commonly in juices, smoothies, and yogurt, although some people prefer to eat it raw.
Carambola is easily identified by its star shape, hence in English: star fruit! When sliced horizontally, it looks like a star. It can taste very sweet when it’s very yellow/mature.
Caju is also called the cashew apple, as it’s the fruit that surrounds the cashew nut. It’s originally from the northeast of Brazil. It’s a curious fruit, because it is composed of two parts that generate two different products: the fruit caju, and the castanha de caju (cashew nut).
The fruit is good in juices and in desserts, not so much on it’s own. I prefer the salted nut, a very popular snack. Huuummm
Goiaba, or guava, is one of the cheapest and most common fruits. There are two types of goiaba, the white and the red one; the colours refer to the inside.
Brazilians use guava to prepare a popular dessert called goiabada (has a taste similar to the jam, but in a more consistent form). Goiabada is often eaten with Minas cheese, in a combination that is called “Romeo and Juliet” because of how well they go together.
There are two types of maracujá, or passionfruit, the sweet (doce) and sour (azedo). The sweet ones are the ones you want to try. Maracujá is the most popular juice in Brazil; the mousse recipe is very popular too! I think maracujá goes really well with cachaça! Maracujá + cachaça = caipirinha! A-ha! =P
Castanha do Pará
Also known as Brazil nuts, the castanhas do pará are actually seeds that are inside the fruit which grow on the Brazil nut tree in the Amazon.
It’s a very popular snack!
What are the exotic fruits, or food items in your own country? Tell us by submitting your own post.