Pitanga, the Brazilian cherry, or also known as the Surinam cherry, is indigenous to South America, specifically Uruguay, Brazil, and the Guyana regions of Suriname, French Guiana, and Guyana.
It’s not a cherry botanically, and it doesn’t even taste like one! It is a member of the Myrtaceae family, including other tropical fruits such as guava and mountain apple.
As with other cherries, the ripe fruit can be eaten raw. The cherries can be blended to make fresh juice, custard desserts, ice creams, pies, or a sauce, and they can be kept whole in syrup. Jellies relishes and pickles are all made using this cherry. It can also be used to make pepper jelly and sauce. The Surinam cherry is widely fermented to make vinegar or wine in Brazil.
Pitanga is generally thought of as a tree, although it is actually a tall shrub that can grow to a height of 25 feet or higher. It grows abundantly across the Amazon, and it can even be planted in your yard if you live in a hot, humid climate. Because the shrub grows quickly and easily in Brazil, it’s a very sustainable food source as well as used for cosmetic elements.
On the Hawaiian islands, they are mostly planted as a decorative shrub that also produces edible fruit. A resinous, pungent perfume permeates the air as the fruits ripen. Fruits directly from the tree are a favorite snack for Hawaiian kids!
In addition to gathering Pitanga fruit for food and beauty purposes, people also utilize the plant’s leaves to fight a major nuisance in their homes. Flies are a major issue in the thick Amazon Rainforest, and they have the potential to transmit disease among the native population. In order to keep pests at bay in their residences, the inhabitants sprinkle Pitanga leaves over the flooring of their houses. When the leaves are crushed beneath their feet, they release a mildly spicy scent that has been proved to deter flies, effectively keeping your house secure and bug-free for longer periods.
A very distinct fruit, as the fruit matures, the color of the fruit changes from green to yellow to orange to red, creating a beautiful display of fruits on the tree as they mature. It’s sweet and aromatic, rich in vitamins and antioxidants, and another great benefit, the rich oil extracted from its seeds, may help keep skin and hair looking young and healthy!
One component is the flesh, while another is the skin. The meat is usually sweet and delicious, with a hint of spice. The peel is usually more acidic than the rest of the fruit. Some seedlings have a pronounced flavor or essence of the plant’s leaves, while others do not. Seedlings vary a lot, but most are fine, and a few are excellent. The darker ones have a richer flavor, whereas the orange and red ones are blander.
Types of Pitanga
Generally speaking, there are two distinct types: the common bright-red variety and the rarer dark-crimson to nearly black kind, which is sweeter and less resinous. Some of the different varieties are;
The Zill Pitanga is known for producing delicious fruit. They have a muscadine-like grape flavor and are quite sweet, with little astringency. “Zill” is a type of cherry that produces deeply scarlet to practically black-colored fruits that have a delicious flavor. A shrubby tree that grows to a height of 10-25 ft / 8 m. There are abundant numbers of cherry-sized fruits produced by this plant, which can be consumed raw or used in beverages and sweets.
The Crimson Tide Pitanga yields brilliant red fruits with a sweet, citrusy flavor similar. With a lemony aftertaste like you receive from a Satsuma, the pastiness or resinous sense is minimal. The Crimson Tide is extremely sweet, with no disagreeable flavors.
Lolita Surinam Cherry
The Lolita variety cherries are comparable in size and shape to the other Surinam cherries. When fully ripe, the fruit is virtually black. The richer the flavor, the darker the berry is when picked. When this fruit falls into your fingers with a light touch, it is totally ripe, just like other varieties.
The flavor of the Lolita variety is significantly different from the other variants. It’s really sweet and leaves no lingering flavor. They have a punch flavor in your mouth, are really sweet, and then explode with tartness at the end. The taste of the Lolita cherry is comparable to that of a conventional cherry, and the melting texture is wonderful.
The Surinam cherry variety ‘Black Star’ is another unique variety. This kind has a somewhat sweeter flavor and a darker flesh. The Black Star, also known as the ‘Black Surinam Cherry,’ is known for producing superior meat! They somewhat resemble Barbados cherries in appearance but have a somewhat sweeter flavor.
The Black Star has a little bitter aftertaste and has an acidic to sweet flavor. The Black cherry has orangie-dark red flesh and is much sweeter than the full crimson Pitanga. You can consume the berry straight from the container or use it in salads, jams, and other dishes. There are two to three seeds hidden inside the flesh.
Chamba Surinam Cherry
The Chamba variety cherries are comparable in size and shape to the other Surinam cherries. When fully ripe, the fruit is virtually fire engine red. This variety is sweet but also sour. There isn’t much of a resinous aftertaste in this fruit.
Wild populations can be found in Brazil’s deep south, making this Pitanga one of the coldest tolerant of the Pitangas.
Florida Giant Purple
This particular Surinam Cherry tree/bush is known as “Florida Giant Purple.” The fruit is purple and much larger than a regular red surinam cherry, as the name suggests. It’s about the size of a Bing cherry. Aside from its beautiful color and size, the best thing about this kind is that it has no resinous flavor at all.
We hope that our article has helped you learn about a new type of fruit you will enjoy and love! Pitangas are a great fruit to grow right in your garden and have a great yield for you and your family to munch on.