10 Fruits Unique to Brazil
Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and first in terms of biodiversity. This South American country is famous for its Carnaval, soccer and beaches. It is infamous for its violence and favelas. However, despite its issues, Brazil is a vacation destination loved by tourists from around the world.
Tourists come to Brazil to get to know one of the world’s most vibrant and welcoming cultures. Visitors traveling to Brazil are also eager to discover local customs and foods they are unlikely to find back home. While typical Brazilian dishes tend to contain common ingredients and can easily be reproduced elsewhere, not all Brazilian delicacies are so simple to duplicate.
One such food is fruits. Of course, it is theoretically possible to transport them overseas, but for those involved in the fruit importation industry, this is most likely not worth the effort when there are dozens of others that are much more readily available and more popular among consumers. This does not mean that these unique creations of nature are not worth sampling, though. The following list contains 10 fruits native to Brazil that are definitely worth trying firsthand when you get the opportunity to travel to this tropical country. Some Brazilian fruits can be found anywhere in the country and at any time of year, whereas others need to be specifically searched for in specific places.
10 Unique Brazilian Fruits
- Champagne orange
- Passion fruit
- Cashew apple
If you search this item’s title in Google, a number of drink recipes involving mixing champagne and oranges will show up. Champagne’s taste can greatly be enhanced by adding orange juice and the resulting creation is often referred to as a mimosa.
But did you know that this unique taste combination can also be found in nature? Unfortunately for the majority of us, this particular type of orange only exists in Brazil. And even there, it is not very common. Champagne orange trees are most often found on private properties belonging to small farm owners. Depending on the time of year, it is also possible to purchase these oranges from grocery stores and sellers on the street. Despite the fact that the champagne orange is not very abundant, it is sold at fairly affordable prices. When it is in season, one kilogram will cost no more than 4-5 BRL.
Champagne oranges tend to be of a yellowish-green color and are about the size of a large navel orange. The scent is also rather different than that of an average orange. Champagne oranges have a more lemony and vanilla smell. As for the taste, well, the name says it all. This orange variety tastes like sweet champagne that will not get you drunk.
It is interesting to note that in Brazil many people prefer to ‘suck’ oranges, instead of eating them the traditional way. This is done by first thinly peeling the orange’s skin and then cutting out a hole in the center. The fruit then gets squeezed until the hole fills with juice. The juice gets drunk and the procedure gets repeated until there is no more juice left in the orange.
My Thoughts on Champagne Oranges
Taste: I find that these taste like a milder version of champagne without the bubbles. These are neither too sweet, nor too sour. They are very juicy, so you can get a whole cup of juice out of one orange.
Price: Free if you find them in the wild or at a friend's place. Around 4-5 BRL per kg at small fruit stands when this variety is in season.
Availability: I haven't seen these for sale at stores, so if you want to try the champagne orange, I would suggest looking for fruit sellers on the street or orange trees in the wild. However, beware that some wild oranges are exceptionally sour and aren't something that I would recommend eating on there own. Another option is to visit friends or relatives that have fairly large properties and grow fruit trees there. You could also approach strangers that have fruit trees in their yards and ask them to sell you some of the oranges. Some may even decide to give them to you for free! People have told me that you can also buy champagne oranges at roadside fruit stands for fairly affordable prices.
This fruit can be described as a darker version of a blueberry, although it is much larger. A jabuticaba is around the size of a plum and these fruits grow straight on tree trunks. All parts of the fruit are edible, although the sweet flesh is much more pleasing to one’s taste buds than the sour skin. Jabuticaba is a superfruit that is abundant in Brazil, however, for some reason, we can’t seem to find it in the produce section of US supermarkets. The explanation for that is that this delicious fruit is highly perishable. The giant berries are only good for a few short days after being harvested. Are you burning with the desire to taste this fruit that is bursting with antioxidants? Although there are rumors about jabuticaba being imported to Japan and sold there, you will get the most out of your experience by visiting Brazil, the country this detox fruit is indigenous to.
My Thoughts on Jabuticaba
Taste: I would say that jabuticaba is a combination of a grape and a blueberry. It is around the size of a large grape, has juicy flesh surrounding a large pit and a bluish-black colour. The taste reminds me of blueberries.
Price: I haven't seen fresh jabuticaba at supermarkets, however, I have seen it growing on trees between August and September in the Southern regions. It is also a popular flavour for ice cream and a cone tends to be around 1 USD or less. Jabuticaba juice or drinkable yogurt is also available and is fairly affordable. You can buy a 1-litre container for the equivalent of 3-4 USD
Availability: I was told that jabuticaba is available year round in some parts of the country, such as in the North, where it doesn't get colder during the 'winter' months. In the Southern states, you can find ripe jabuticaba on trees in late August - early September. Products containing jabuticaba (yogurts, candies) are available year-round at supermarkets. Other creations with jabuticaba such as ice cream cones, cakes and pies are more seasonal and are only available in August and September.
If you go to Brazil, you will notice that açaí is absolutely everywhere. There are cafés and shops dedicated to the fruit selling anything from açaí ice cream to fruit bowls to even towels and hoodies with “açaí” printed on them. As with everything, there are some people who love açaí and others do not care much for it. Some people even think that açaí is way too overrated, especially when there are more than three açaí ice stores in extremely close proximity.
Overrated or not, there is one thing that is for certain: these Brazilian ‘blueberries’ have numerous health benefits. These exotic berries are higher in antioxidants than North American staples, such as blueberries, cranberries and strawberries. There are theories about products high in antioxidants being able to prevent cancer. Açaí berries also contain high levels of fatty acids, something that is unusual for a berry. These in turn help to prevent cholesterol and blood pressure issues.
Açaí has a slightly bitter taste which is often compared to that of dark chocolate.
My Thoughts on Açaí
Taste: In my opinion, açaí is very overrated. Although it has many benefits, the taste definitely is not superior. I tried 100% pure açaí mainly out of curiosity and it was practically impossible to it; it was simply too bitter and tart. I would consider eating açaí flavored granola or maybe mixing açaí powder into a smoothie just for the nutrients, but I wouldn't eat it pure for enjoyment.
However, pure açaí is not what they offer in açaí shops that can be found even in the smallest of cities. What they sell is processed frozen açaí combined with sugar, so despite not being true açaí, the taste is rather enjoyable. This açaí mixture is often accompanied by granola, fresh fruits and candy pieces.
Price: The price will depend on the açaí product you buy and where you buy it. One liter of açaí ice cream can cost around 15-20 BRL, which is around 4-5 USD. It is more expensive when compared to other ice creams, but is fairly cheap when we look at the price in US dollars. Small pots of açaí ice cream with granola can be around 5-7 BRL at ice cream cafés. Smoothies are around 4-8 BRL, but it really depends on where you purchase yours.
Availability: Açaí is absolutely everywhere! I can't go a day without either seeing it being sold or hearing a commercial about it. Açaí products are sold everywhere, but I haven't yet seen the actual fruits for sale. The closest I've seen was açaí pulp, which can be bought at supermarkets as well as in shops that are dedicated to healthy foods. In Brazil, you can try açaí ice cream, granola parfaits, pure pulp, smoothies and more! There are even açaí candies and granola bars.
Passion Fruit (Maracujá)
While passion fruit flavored candies and even juices can be found in North American supermarkets, the real thing is much harder, if not impossible, to come across. Native to the Brazilian Amazon, this tiny fruit contains more seeds than flesh. Do not let that fool you, though. Both the seeds and flesh are edible and very delicious and the passion fruit is a superfood for improving your health.
Like a number of other items on this list, passion fruit contains many antioxidants. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties and contains dietary fiber, as well as a bit of iron. This may not seem like much, but given the fact that the average fruit only weighs 18 grams (0.04 pounds), these are very impressive numbers. What is interesting about the iron found in passion fruit, is that it gets absorbed exceptionally well, unlike iron from other plant sources. The reason for this is the high vitamin C content in the fruit, which is known to enhance the absorption of iron.
My Thoughts on Passion Fruit
Taste: Passion fruit is one of my favorite fruits here and I think that it could be considered to be the 'strawberry of Brazil'. These two fruits taste nothing alike, but it's their popularity that makes them similar. In North America, there are numerous strawberry-flavored candies, chocolates, drinks, yogurts and ice creams. Here, it is easier to find passion fruit-flavored toffees and chocolate bars than those with strawberries. Strawberry-flavored foods can be found as well, but these almost never contain real strawberries. Passion fruit has a crunchy and somewhat sour taste. I don't find it to be especially juicy. It is possible to find ice cream made with real passion fruit that also contains the seeds. Chocolates filled with a passion fruit mousse are also very delicious.
Price: Fresh passion fruit is often cheaper than apples. Apples range from 6-11 (or on rare occaisions and when they're in season, they could be as cheap as 4-5 BRL/Kg) BRL per kilo, while passion fruit can be bought for 2-5 BRL per kilo. Trufas (chocolates with a passion fruit filling) can be bought for 2-3 BRL each. Passion fruit ice cream is around 15 BRL per 1.5 liters in supermarkets or lower in family-run ice cream shops.
Availability: Both fresh passion fruit and products made with it are available everywhere. You can buy the fruits at supermarkets or from street vendors. Candies can be bought from street vendors and also from outdoor markets. The fruits are usually cheaper and more nicer looking during the Brazilian winter, from June to August.
Nearly nonexistent in the Northern Hemisphere, guavas are extremely abundant in Brazil. Fresh guavas are the most popular, but there are also juices and sweets, such as the goiabada. Goiabada can be referred to as the guava variation of canned cranberry sauce due to its color and texture.
Guavas are approximately the size of pears and tend to have a light green skin. The inside is light pink with tiny light yellow seeds. Both the flesh and the seeds are edible and Brazilians commonly cut the fruit in half and then eat it with a spoon. Guavas can also be enjoyed by slicing them or by squeezing their juice.
Similar to the other fruits on this list, guavas are considered to be superfruits by some and consuming just one of these exotic fruits will provide you with more than 600% of your daily vitamin C. Guavas are also high in antioxidants, fiber and various minerals.
My Thoughts on Guavas
Taste: The fruit isn't very juicy and I find it annoying to eat fresh because of the seeds. The seeds are edible, but I personally find them annoying. Guavas are sweet and soft. I prefer goiabada or guava juice since these allow me to enjoy the fruit without the seeds. Goiabada can be eaten with cream cheese and I find that it is similar to cranberry jelly.
Price: Similar to passion fruit. Natural guava juice can be bought for 4 BRL per liter. The price of goiabada depends on the location, but you can buy a 200 gram package for 3-7 BRL. Depending on the season, fresh guavas cost around 3-6 BRL per kilogram.
Availability: Guavas are more common than apples here. I have yet to see apple sauce for sale, yet I have already seen guava spreads and sauce numerous times and in numerous sizes. Goiabada is a popular filling for churros (Brazilian donuts) and "Romeu & Julieta" (goiabada and cream cheese) is a loved sweet pastry filling.
Your Chance to Experience Goiabada Firsthand!
Cupuaçu is a very strange-looking fruit. These fruits look like huge kiwis on the outside and tend to weigh around 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) each. Cupuaçu has a white-colored pulp with a seed pod in the center, whose scent can be described as that of pineapple and chocolate at the same time. And some say that it smells like a banana. But don’t let that scare you. Like other Brazilian fruits, cupuaçu is a superfruit, rich in nutrients. It contains numerous antioxidants, vitamins and amino acids.
Does this remind you of something else, the chocolate bean maybe? These two in fact belong to the same family and this fact could be used to explain why capuaçu’s taste has a hint of chocolate.
My Thoughts on Cupuaçu
Taste: This fruit isn't as popular as some of the other ones, but I was lucky to find it at a local supermarket. It has some hints of citrus and is a little sweet, but mostly it is very sour and aromatic. Brazilians love to add sugar to sour fruits, such as oranges and the cupuaçu is no exception. Frozen cupuaçu pulp is available for purchase alongside açaí, but the added sugar masks its true flavors.
Price: You can buy it online for around 25 BRL per kg. In some stores, fresh cupuaçu can be bought for 6-10 BRL per kilogram. There are also cupuaçu popsicles and ice cream cones sold at some family creameries for 2-4 BRL each. Frozen cupuaçu cream is also commonly offered as a side to açaí and costs around 7-10 BRL per 200 ml.
Availability: This is a very rare fruit and not every store has it, however you may find it in some specialty supermarkets. You could also get it from online sellers or people that grow the fruit. Cupuaçu pulp on the other hand is extremely common as it can be kept frozen for months. You can easily find it at any store that carries the 'Polpa Norte' brand.
Experience Cupuaçu for Yourself!
Guaraná Antarctica is Brazil’s traditional non-alcoholic drink. Soft drinks typically are not associated with fruits, so what is the case with this one? Guaraná also happens to be the name of a Brazilian fruit, whose seeds contain more than twice as much caffeine as coffee seeds. Guaraná is used in the production of this popular Brazilian soda and has been used as a key Brazilian soft drink ingredient since 1909.
Guaraná has been used by Amazonian Indians for centuries, prior to being discovered by the Europeans. The natives used the fruit for its stimulating properties. This fruit with white flesh and dark seeds contains tannin molecules which cause the fruit’s caffeine to be released slowly and in turn providing the consumer’s body with energy for a longer time. Consuming guaraná also increases one’s metabolism, which can help those looking to lose weight. Guaraná is often not consumed on its own due to its bitter taste. Instead, it is mixed into smoothies and teas.
My Thoughts on Guaraná
Taste: This fruit is more known for the pop that is named after it. The original soft drink has a fruity taste, isn't too sweet and has the same effect on you as coffee does. The newer version tastes nothing like the original and has left people complaining. The fruit guaraná is a bit sweet, but those who consume it don't do it for the taste. Guaraná was historically consumed for its properties, which include giving one an energy boost.
Price: A 2 liter bottle of the soft drink can be bought for 3-7 BRL. The fruit's price really varies.
Availability: Both original and newer versions of the soft drink are available everywhere, even in some places abroad. The fruit is harder to come across and I've more commonly seen it sold by street vendors.
Care for a 'coke' the Brazilian way?
The caju, or cashew when translated from Portuguese, is a fairly common and affordable nut in North America. The cashew apple, on the other hand, is something completely unheard of. Despite being referred to as a ‘false fruit’, this orangish pear-shaped fruit is edible and even has health benefits. It has a sweet smell and taste and it is very juicy. The fruit’s pulp is commonly used to make a refreshing and tropical beverage. The cashew apple’s thin skin is to blame for the fact that we cannot find it in North American grocery stores. The fruit’s fragility makes it nearly impossible to transport.
Cashew nuts are high in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants and are good for your eyes, heart, blood, as well as weight loss. Cashew apples, on the other hand, are effective when it comes to treating stomach issues, such as ulcers, gastritis, and preventing diarrhea. In addition to ingesting the fruit, its juice can be used as an ointment for aches. Even though you may not have known about the existence of cashew apples prior to reading this post, chances are that you have already come into contact with it. Thanks to their high antioxidant content, cashew apples are commonly used in the production of creams and shampoos.
My Thoughts on Cashew Apples
Taste: I've only tried the juice and I can describe it as being sweet and aromatic. Combining it with cashew juice gives the beverage a nutty and fruity taste at the same time.
Price: 5-7 BRL for a package of 4 cashew apples and around 5 BRL for a liter of cashew and cashew apple juice.
Availability: I have seen these in stores, but never had the courage to buy them. Cashew and cashew apple juice can also be found in some places.
The name siriguela is just as exotic as the fruit itself. This small round fruit is native to northeastern Brazil, where it is extremely popular. Siriguelas are eaten with their skin on; their small size makes it impractical to attempt to remove the skin prior to consumption. This yellowish fruit tastes and looks like a miniature mango and is very juicy. Brazilians like to enjoy siriguela on its own as a snack and some use it in juices or to flavor ice creams. A fun fact is that not only foreigners, but some Brazilians as well do not know about the existence of siriguela. During siriguela season, they are sold everywhere in several states in Northeastern Brazil. However, for some reason, it is very difficult, if not impossible to come across these juicy fruits in other areas of Brazil.
Despite not being very widely researched yet, it is known that siriguela is very rich in nutrients and is beneficial for one’s health. Like many other fruits, siriguela can be considered a superfruit since it has high levels of vitamins, minerals, fibers and antioxidants. Among siriguela’s many benefits known to date are its ability to reduce swelling, increase one’s energy levels, strengthen the immune system and combat stress.
My Thoughts on the Siriguela
Taste: I haven't yet had the chance to taste this fruit in any of its forms.
Price: I was told that it can be bought at around 7-10 BRL per kilo, depending on the location.
Availability: Common in northeastern Brazil.
The cagaita is a Brazilian superfruit, unknown to the outside world. It is worth mentioning that it is not only the fruit itself that gets used. The leaves, bark and fruits have medicinal properties and locals use the trees’ wood for construction and charcoal. Cagaita fruits themselves either get eaten as they are or get used to make ice cream, juices, and even liqueurs. The leaves and bark of the cagaita tree are believed to be able to help those suffering from diabetes.
What is interesting about the cagaita is that while the leaves have antidiarrheal properties, the fruits themselves are used as laxatives by the locals. Now you know that if you ever find yourself suffering from either diarrhea or constipation, there is a plant that can help take care of both of these issues at once.
Cagaita fruits contain 90% water and are considered to be low in calories. Like many other fruits, they are rich in antioxidants and minerals. Cagaita is believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory issues and even cancer.
My Thoughts on the Cagaita
Taste: I haven't tasted it yet, but I will try to find it when I travel to the north of the country.
Price: not sure
Availability: I haven't seen it anywhere in the South, so I am supposing that it is more popular in the Northern parts of the country.
Which is YOUR favorite Brazilian superfruit?
© 2018 Janisa