Flavors of Brazil is introducing readers to the rainbow of tropic fruits that is one of the glories of the world of Brazilian food. In previous posts, I've discussed such fruits as ata, caju, cajá and many others, and when possible have searched my photo collection and internet image galleries for photographs that highlight the colors and textures of these fruits. In this blog, I cannot give readers samples of the aromas or tastes of these tropical fruits, but I can offer photos to appeal to the readers' eyes.
The pitanga (Eugenia uniflora) is native to Brazil's Mata Atlântica, the rain forest which once covered most of coastal Brazil now sadly diminished by deforestation. It has been successfully transplanted, and can be found today in other parts of South America, in Africa, on the Portuguese island of Madeira and in the Caribbean, where it is generally known in English as Brazil Cherry, Suriname Cherry, or Cayenne Cherry. It is only distantly related to the cherry botanically.
Pitanga is a very heathful fruit, having a high vitamin C content, as well as high levels of calcium. Most of the pitanga eaten in Brazil is consumed fresh, or is pulped into juice. Wonderful jams and jellies can also be made from pitanga, and though I have not tried it, I have located quite a few recipes for pitanga liquor on the internet.
The flavor of this fruit is sharp and acidic, but the relatively high level of sugars means that it is not particularly tart. When making pitanga juice, either from fresh fruit or from frozen pulp, Brazilians tend to add a good quantity of sugar, but I find that it often needs very little additional sugar. The juice is very refreshing, and pitanga juice is an excellent "waker-upper" in the morning, or a true thist-quencher on a hot afternoon.