Jabuticaba

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.

 

25 replies
  1. Bruno
    Bruno says:

    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.

    Reply
    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      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!).

      Reply
  2. Brae
    Brae says:

    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!

    Reply
  3. The Gritty Poet
    The Gritty Poet says:

    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.

    Reply
    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      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!

      Reply
      • The Gritty Poet
        The Gritty Poet says:

        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.

        Reply
  4. Chris Wright
    Chris Wright says:

    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!

    Reply
  5. Saskia Ghirotti
    Saskia Ghirotti says:

    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…!

    Reply
    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      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!

      Reply
  6. Marina
    Marina says:

    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.

    Reply
    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      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! 🙂

      Reply
  7. Peter Waters
    Peter Waters says:

    I have a beautiful tree growing here in Sydney, you have to have your timing just right or there will be berries all over the ground just when you are ready to eat them….best way is to just start eating theme ASAP!!

    Reply
    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      Hi Peter – I had heard you could find these in Australia now. Do you have problems with birds eating all the berries? My little tree (only about waist height so far) has most of it’s berries nabbed by the birds. I actually have to put a net up if I want to keep any for myself! 🙂

      Reply
      • Tony V
        Tony V says:

        I have a Jabuticaba growing in my backyard in Gympie, Qld. It is very low maintenance and fruit is incredible. The Rainbow parrots love them. So here is nature at work. As the fruit doesn’t last for a long time and it is hard to tell if they are ready to eat unless you taste them regularly after they become black and soft, all I do is wait till I hear the Rainbow Parrots fighting over them and then I pick the lot off. I can’t reach all so I leave the rest for the parrots as a treat for telling me when they are sweet and ready to eat. (smile)

        Reply
        • tomlemes
          tomlemes says:

          Hi Tony – that’s a really nice little arrangement you have going on with the rainbow parrots there! 🙂 Reminds me a bit of that cool thing with the honeyguide bird and the Hadza (though with fewer stings!):

          Reply
        • peter waters
          peter waters says:

          The tree is very easy to cut back, I generally cut back about 1/3 per year, 1/2 of the tree at a time, so I keep it at about 2.5mt high.

          Reply
          • Tony V
            Tony V says:

            Thank-you Peter,
            I probably should cut it back even though it not a bother to me as yet. This harvest I am going to make Jam and try to make a non-alcohol drink from the fruit.
            I found out that Jabuticaba Fruit makes a great cocktail with ‘white rum’ but I do too much driving to even think of adding alcohol to any drink (smile).
            So I will juice a bucket of them and add thinks like Lemonade or similiar to see what I can come up with.

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