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Nov 13

What to do with Jabuticaba

If you happen to stroll through a street market in Rio around now you will almost certainly see lots of these:

Jabuticaba

Jabuticaba (zha-bootchy-CAH-ba).

 

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:

jabuticabeira

A heavily laden jabuticabeira. As you can see, the fruit grows directly out of the trunk and branches.

 

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:

Eat them!

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.

capirinha-de-jabuticaba

Jabuticaba, sugar, ice, cachaça. Enjoy.

 

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:

 

Ingredients

800g Jabuticaba (buy a kilo and use the rest for drinks!)

300g sugar

Optional: cinnamon stick (canela), cloves (cravo-da-índia)

 

Steps

  • 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.

jabuticaba-1

 

 

  • 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.
jabuticaba-2

Push the pulp through a plastic sieve.

 

  • You should now have around 600ml of liquid remaining – return it to the pan and add 300g of sugar.
jabuticaba-2

Add sugar, heat and stir.

 

  • 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.

 

geleia-da-jabuticaba

Mmmm, geléia de jabuticaba…

 

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.

 

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18 comments

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  1. Stacy

    What in the world does that tree look like when it’s in flower???

    1. tomlemes

      Ah, somewhere I have a photo of the flowers that appeared on my little jabuticabeira earlier this year. They’re funny looking fluffy white things. I would love to see a big tree like that in flower though – it must look like it is covered in cotton wool!

      Aha! Look what I just found – now we know! :)

      http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4153/5036570874_3e717a51df_z.jpg

  2. Bruno

    I was raised in Rio, in Santa Teresa. There were like half a dozen Jabuticaba trees in the backyard. Annually, the fruit was harvested and plenty of jam was made in one busy afternoon. The pots were given to family and friends. The house and backyard are still there, but. I don’t now about the jabuticaba três.

    1. tomlemes

      Ah, I wish we had a proper jabuticaba tree – the one I have growing in a pot is very pretty, but isn’t really big enough to produce more than 20 or 30 berries at a time (and the birds eat most of them!).

  3. Brae

    I had never paired anything sweet with cheese until I lived in Brasil. It sounds strange, but tastes so good! Queijo fresco e goiabada and bananas & cheese. Yum!

    1. tomlemes

      Hi Brae! Did you never try that classic (possibly a slightly dated classic from the 80s) of deep-fried camembert with red currant sauce? Falls into the “so wrong and yet so right” category :D

      camembert

      1. Brae

        Oh my goodness no! My mouth is watering though. I must try this!!

        1. tomlemes

          It’s really tasty!

  4. The Gritty Poet

    I am not a fan of Jabuticaba. As a matter of fact it is on my fruit hate list – the Brazilian edition – along with Pequi (uber gross) . Plus the Jabuticaba tree looks like VD. Well live and let live I guess (you’re welcome) so knock yourself out with the obscene berry. Humm, I wonder if cheese makes it bearable.

    1. tomlemes

      What?! What’s not to like? Surely you can’t object to the flavour – they’re lovely!

      Those pequi, on the other hand, look vicious. I haven’t seen them myself, but from the looks of the hidden spines, I think I’ll be avoiding that one!

      1. The Gritty Poet

        I find the flavor too sweet, overwhelming if you will. Unlike my berry/bearable pun in the previous message the fruit lacks discretion and balance. And yeah: pequi sucks big time.

  5. Chris Wright

    Wow Brazil must hold the record for exotic fruit!

    Caipirinha straight or with passion fruit are the only ones I’ve tried but they left a big impression.

    I reckon sooner rather than later I need to make a food & drink road trip around Brazil!

    1. tomlemes

      That would be great! Just need to make sure someone else is doing the driving so you can enjoy the caipirinhas! ;)

  6. Saskia Ghirotti

    Wonderful post. Jabuticaba is definitely one of my favorite fruits here in Brazil and harvesting them from the tree is SO much fun. My favorite is to just eat them. I refuse to eat the skin but I do swallow the pit with the pulp…!

    1. tomlemes

      Ah, thanks Saskia! So do you have proper trees at your place? I would *love* to see a big jabuticabeira fully laden. My tree is more like a metre high bonsai! Very pretty, but it doesn’t have quite the same effect. Also, the local birds have developed a taste for the fruit apparently. Those big trees look like the serve up enough fruit to keep everyone happy!

  7. Marina

    I’m from Minas Gerais. There , there is a city called Cachoeira do Campo in wich you can rent (yes, rent!) Jaboticabeiras on harvest time. All the jaboticabas that the tree produce are yours to keep or sell. My family rented one many years agoand we had jaboticaba for ate least 3 months! You can also rent jaboticabeiras in Sabará.

    1. tomlemes

      Hi Marina – that’s amazing! I have never heard of that! In England we have something called ‘Pick your own’ where you can go to a strawberry farm and pick strawberries from the field (and of course you can eat as many as you like!), but I love the idea of renting a tree! :)

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