If you happen to stroll through a street market in Rio around now you will almost certainly see lots of these:
As fruits go, this one is pretty remarkable. First of all there is the tree. You may have seen these images before, but I think a fruit tree this unusual is worth a second look:
Another remarkable thing about jabuticaba fruit is that they taste delicious! I found out early in my blogging career that describing flavours is difficult and at times impossible. What I can tell you is that these spherical black/blue fruit have a thick skin which surrounds a sweet whitish pulp and a small pip/stone.
So, you’ve picked up a bag of jabuticaba from the market – what should you do with them? Here are three suggestions:
Jabuticaba are delicious! Pop one in your mouth and bite down to pop it open. The soft pulp is sweet and delicious, if you chew the skin you will find it is quite acidic. Many people find the skin a bit tough and spit it out along with the pip. I find I can get through several handfuls this way as I wander through the market.
Make a Caipirinha
While I stand by my previous statement regarding which fruit makes the best caipirinha, I think that a jabuticaba caipirinha comes in a close second. Put a handful in the bottom of a glass, mash them with a little sugar, add ice and cachaça and finally stir. Congratulations, you now have an excellent drink in your hand.
Geléia de Jabuticaba
Geléia (jelly/jam) has advantages over both the previous suggestions. Unlike the fresh fruit, jelly can be stored for several weeks without spoiling. And unlike a caipirinha, you can eat jelly on toast before work without A) making a mess and B) getting fired from your job. I do confess to being a bit of a food nerd, but not so much that I had ever made jam before. Turns out that it’s actually really easy! Here’s what you do:
800g Jabuticaba (buy a kilo and use the rest for drinks!)
Optional: cinnamon stick (canela), cloves (cravo-da-índia)
- Wash the fruit, drain and place in a large saucepan.
- Use any utensil you have to crush the fruit – a potato masher, wooden spoon or even a fork works fine. You don’t need to mash them hard – the idea is just to make sure that every berry is broken open so that it can let out its juice and pulp.
- Once all the berries are broken, heat on medium flame until the juicy mixture starts to bubble. Now add 300ml of water, stir well and continue to gently simmer the mixture, squeezing any chunky pieces of fruit up against the side of the pan.
- After a few minutes, all the fruit should be softened. Don’t cook it for too long or the resulting jelly will be bitter.
- Put the pulp and juice into sieve above a large bowl. Use a wooden spoon to squeeze all the goodness out of the fruit and through the sieve. Discard the pulp and pips that don’t make it through.
- You should now have around 600ml of liquid remaining – return it to the pan and add 300g of sugar.
- Heat to a very gentle simmer, stirring occasionally (don’t let it boil). At this stage, if you want, you can add a cinnamon stick and/or a few cloves, though personally I prefer to keep the pure jabuticaba flavour.
- After 20-30 minutes the liquid will have reduced a little and you can turn off the heat.
- Pour the mixture into sterilised jam jars, allow to cool and then refrigerate.
You may want to play around with the proportions of sugar and fruit, but this worked perfectly for me. The fruit skins contain plenty of pectin which makes the jelly set, so you don’t need to worry about that.
The result is a really delicious, fruity, tangy jelly which goes well on toast and also combines very well with cheese. You could also add more water and use it as a mixer for cocktails (Jabuticaba Kir Royale anyone?). If you try it, let me know how it goes!
Wondering what to do with a Cupuaçú? Find out here.