Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Jaboticaba

'Tis jaboticaba season again. What the heck is jaboticaba? It's a tropical fruit that looks like are large dark purple marble, though I've seen a few as big as ping pong balls. They are somewhat like a large grape with tougher skin, a pit like a cherry but with some of the flesh adhering to it. They're ok to eat fresh out of hand but I find  the skin to be bitter if I chew it too much. What I prefer is to cook them and make juice. 

The way this fruit grows makes harvesting memorable. It flowers, thus produces fruit, right along the trunk and branches. The first time I saw one of these trees in fruit I was agog. How totally strange. 
(Photo from montosogardens.com) 

My next door neighbor has a small jaboticaba tree. And I have a young one that isn't fruiting yet. Happily my neighbor doesn't bother with half the fruit and lets me harvest them once he has gotten what he wants. 

I brought home a few baggies of fruit last week. Skipping the fresh fruit eating opportunity, I washed the fruits, split the skins with a knife (I could probably skip this step), harvesting the pits in order to plant them.  I dumped the fruits in a saucepan, added water, and set them atop the wood stove. I then let them simmer for the evening, adding more water as needed. 
( above, add water and cook.)

Once cooled, I very lightly mashed the fruits using a potato masher, being cautious not to do too much mashing so to avoid the bitterness. I then drained everything through a sieve, discarding the pulp and skins (they go to the chickens). I'm left with very dark purple juice. 

Now, this is where I stop processing. I'm happy with the juice that I can use as a treat in breakfast smoothies. Taste? Something like tart Concord grapes. Adding sugar makes it taste more grape-y. 

Just about everybody I know makes syrup or jelly out of the juice. But it needs a lot of sugar, something I try to avoid. But sometimes I crave a sweet treat and jaboticaba & fresh pressed sugar cane is excellent! 

This juice is quite dark and very purple. I thought I'd shine a flashlight through it to show you the wonderful color but a standard flashlight didn't even slightly cut it. After trying progressively stronger flash lights, I pulled out our cyclops spotlight, the big boy that can light up our street 600' away. Whoa, it took that baby to light up the juice! 

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