What to do with a Cupuaçu

One of the food things I found most exciting when I got to Brazil was the huge variety of fruits available, most of which I had never heard of. Graviola, Caja, Umbu, Jabuticaba, Taperebá, Bacurí are just a few I can think of off the top of my head. No need to mention that I didn’t recognise half the names of the fruit I did know, like morango, maçá, abacaxí (strawberry, apple and pineapple respectively).

Regardless of my poor Portuguese, I was at the juice bars dotted all over town, I was presented with a huge list of bewildering fruit to choose from and did my best to try them all. Some are good, some are just OK. Possibly the most astonishing in terms of all-out flavour madness has the be Cupuaçu (sounds like coopwa-SOO):

Cupuaçu fruit

The Cupuaçu fruit has a thick, hard shell, covered with a light brown dusty powder.


Hmmm, it doesn’t look very fruity does it? Looks more like a yam or some other root vegetable. Even at this stage it has a strong fragrance, but how do you get in through that hard shell?



Broken cupuaçu and hammer

My preferred method is to use a trusty martelo (hammer).


Once you get inside the shell, you see a pale yellow, slightly lumpy pod-like thing. By now the cupuaçu smell is pretty strong.

Cupuaçu sem casca

A (tiny) bit like a massive, fragrant Kinder egg.


The next step is to get involved and pull this thing apart with your hands. The soft, slightly damp mass breaks apart quite easily and as you pull it apart you feel that there are grape-sized seeds amongst the pulp.

cupuaçu pulp with seeds

Now the task starts to remove the pulp from the seeds. Time to give this cupuaçu a haircut!


The easiest way to get the pulp away from the seeds is with a pair of scissors. Snipping around each seed, you eventually end up with a big pile of gooey yellow pulp on one side and some sad looking seeds on the other.


Fresh cupuaçu pulp

Finally we have got the good stuff away from everything else!


There are probably all kinds of things you can make with cupuaçu – certainly sweets and desserts are popular, but my favourite has to be (suprise surprise!) the juice option! Simply put the pulp in a blender with a few spoonfuls of sugar and enough water to give the consistency you want and then blend away!


blending cupuaçu

Hmmm, this doesn’t look particularly delicious does it? You’ll just have to take my word for the fact that at this point the whole kitchen was filled with a delicious cupuaçu aroma.


OK, so sometimes it’s hard to make blended up fruit pulp look good! But once you’ve got it to the right consistency and sweetness, you have a really delicious, interesting, fruity drink.


cupuaçu juice

Cupuaçu juice, ready to go! No vodka in this one (I’m sure you could add some if you wanted, but it has quite a lot of flavour going on already and you’d have to be careful about what you added to it).


So you’ve seen what cupuaçu is and how to make it into a tasty drink. But what does it actually taste like?

Well, it’s not easy to describe because it doesn’t taste much like anything else I can think of. What I can say is that it has quite a strong, almost artificial flavour. A little like sherbet. And you know that slightly resinous taste you get from some mangoes? There is something of that to it as well.

One thing I do know is that I love it! It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think everyone who gets the chance should try it to find out. I’m pretty confident that you won’t have tried anything quite like it.

10 replies
      • The Gritty Poet
        The Gritty Poet says:

        Brincadeira indeed; but we often complain about high prices for ‘selected’ items in Brazilian supermarkets so take some comfort in, at least, having affordable friut.
        The thing is, in more mature markets, after the novelty wears off and the number of importers increase then prices usually fall considerably. I don’t see this pattern in Brazil, at least not to the same extent.
        On the birght side the local populace isn’t exposed to evil influences, like Marmite 🙂

        • tomlemes
          tomlemes says:

          Heh heh – the problem with Marmite in Brazil is that there isn’t enough demand. This is the main reason for my pro-Marmite campaign. If I can teach enough Brazilians about the greatness of Britain’s greatest spread, pretty soon they’ll be importing it by the barrel! 😀

  1. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    Cupuaçu was my favorite fruit when I was in Brazil; I’d have it as a juice mixed with acerola. Yummmmm. Thanks for bringing back the sweet memories!

  2. Jamar Jackson
    Jamar Jackson says:

    Hi, I’ve never tasted this fruit but the more I read about it the more awesome it sounds. Does anyone know where I can get the raw fruit in the states? Or at least have it shipped to the states so I can make my own drink? I see them on Amazon, but they are all processed with maltodextrin added. F*ck that noise! I want the goodness. If anybody has some input on the matter shoot me an email @ pologenius21@gmail.com

    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      Hey Jamar – It is an amazing flavour. One of my favourite fruits for sure. If you want the fresh fruit you may have to book yourself a ticket to Brazil! We only get the fresh fruit down here in Rio in a few stores and the supply is patchy. I’d be really surprised to hear of anyone importing them up into the states.


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