If you’re a fan of weird exotic fruits, you might have heard about araza or Eugenia stipitata; a fruit tree that belongs to the guava family that’s native to the Western Amazon. This plant gives birth to the sweet araza fruit that has a yellow, round shape on the outside, and inside it’s like nothing you’ve seen before. In this post, we’ll show you everything you should know about this exotic fruit, including information about its fruit and tree, ways in which you can use it, cultivation tips, nutrition, health benefits, and much more!
What is Araza Fruit?
Araza or Eugenia stipitata is a fruit that belongs to the guava family and is indigenous to Brazil and parts of Peru. In Brazil, it can be found in the northwestern part of the Amazon forest while in Peru, it mostly inhabits the Rio Ucayali Valley. The fruit is quite small and it has a yellow (or sometimes green) color with a fleshy pulp and sour flavor. Its flavor is too sour for most people to consume it raw but that’s why, in Brazil and Peru, you can find a myriad of drinks, nectars, ice creams, marmalades, etc. made from Eugenia stipitata.
The araza fruit hasn’t become very popular mostly because of its flavor and the fact that it grows in some of the most remote places in the world, such as the non-floodable terraces of the Amazon jungle and the area between the Maranon and Ucayali rivers in Peru. However, this fruit has one of the highest levels of vitamin C and is rich in medical properties but more about this below…
About the Tree
The tree is small-to-medium in size, are hermaphroditic, and grows up between 3 and 12 meters tall. It has a lot of branches with small leaves and white fragrant flowers and it blooms throughout the year. This plant can tolerate some flooding but also droughts of up to 2 months and can grow in any fertile and water-permeable land. It takes around three years for the plant to start bearing fruits.
If you would like to plant it, you can do so by germinating the seeds from the fruit. However, keep in mind that one of the most interesting facts about the araza fruit is that it’s most productive when it grows in the wild. In the wild, especially in the Peruvian part of the Amazing Jungle, the average araza fruit can reach up to 400 kilograms of fruits per season.
About the Fruit
The araza fruit has a distinctive and appealing appearance but its flavor isn’t as tasty as its appearance might suggest. This fruit is actually very acidic with a pH of 2.4 (lemons have around 2 and the Buddha’s Hand fruit has around 1.9) and is one of the sourest fruits you’ll ever find. That’s why the fruit is mostly used for culinary purposes. The main reason why it’s not as popular as the lemon because of its “poor shipping abilities” and the fact that the fruit gets damaged quite easily (just like the naranjilla).
When ripe, the fruit turns yellow (or pale green) and starts releasing a distinctive aroma. In size, the fruit ranges between 2–10 cm x 2–12 cm and weighs up to 750 grams.
The propagation is done by seeding just like most other fruits and the seeds have the best germination rate when extracted from the completely mature fruits. When young, the trees should be pruned and cleaned up at least once per year. When planting, the seeds should be planted at least 2 cm apart from each other and only lightly covered. If you’re thinking about what would be a good seedbed, consider using decomposed softwood instead of earth.
The seedlings get transplanted into polyethylene bags filled with earth and manure when they reach a height of 10 cm. After this, the plant stays in the bag for up to a year before being planted on their final site.
Araza fruit produces fruits throughout the year and there with an average of 84 days between harvests. This means that there are up to 4 harvests per year. This fruit follows the same harvesting criteria as the guava; if the fruit matures on the tree, its shelf life is around 72 hours before it starts decaying. That’s why most fruits are harvested while they’re still green to avoid bruising and softening.
How To Use Eugenia Stipitata?
In South America, you’ll find an array of industrialized and homemade products that use the araza fruit as the main ingredient. The most common examples are soft drinks, pastes, jellies, jams, syrups, ice creams, fruit preserves, marmalades, and even liquors. The fruit is acidic and very sour which is why only a handful of people can handle eating it raw. To make the consumption easier, some people sprinkle some sugar or salt on top when consuming it. You can also use the juice for cooking to enrich the flavor of your dish or as the main ingredient for many different desserts. My personal favorite is the Eugenia stipitata pie.
Generally, the fruit is perishable and not very convenient for exporting but interest in the fruit is slowly growing. That’s why, since recently, significant quantities of the fruit are exported to the UK and some quantities are planted in the US state of California. The reason for this is the fact that the Eugenia stipitata tree has the rare ability to rehabilitate exhausted land.
The araza fruit contains 75% water, 8-10% proteins, 5-7% carbs, 5-6% fiber, and a small amount of calcium. The pulp of the fruit, on the other hand, consists of 50% of sugars (fructose- 33.9%, sucrose- 17.2%, and glucose- 3.1%), 35-40% of dietary fibers and amino acids, 12% of proteins, and 4% of dry matter.
As for the vitamins, in 100 grams, there are around 770 mg of vitamin C, 10 mg of vitamin B1, 10 ppm of zinc, and significant amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Additionally, this fruit is rich in germacrene B which has proven to have antimutagenic and antigenotoxic properties that can oftentimes serve as a preventive agent against cancer. Which leads us to our next point…
Health Benefits of Araza Fruit
First of all, the araza fruit is rich in Vitamin C which makes it great for giving you an energy boost during a busy day or for helping you boost your immunity and protect your body from infections. This fruit is also rich in fiber that helps keep your bowels healthy and decrease the probability of developing diverticular and constipation diseases.
Eugenia stipitate also is rich in terpene and volatile compounds, and hence, has high antioxidant activity. Recent studies that examined the levels of polyphenols and radical scavenging activity show that this fruit does have the ability to inhibit the growth of tumor cell lines and suggest that the araza fruit could be used as a preventive agent against cancer.
Did you ever hear of the araza fruit (Eugenia stipitata)? Would you like to try it? Do you think we forgot to mention something important? Let us know in the comments!
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