20070321

name that fruit!: surinam cherry 500.

surinam cherry 1

spring has sprung on the isle, the flowers are in bloom, and the fruit is ripe on the trees--even on those that were previously thought to be barren. my parents have had this surinam cherry tree in their yard for years, i suppose a nod to their days in new jersey (in the heart of soprano-land, whee), and the giant cherry tree we had out back. however, i don't think this one ever fruited until now.

life is just a bowl of surinam cherries 1

the surinam cherry--eugenia flora L. to her friends--was one of those many plants brought over to the islands by the portuguese explorers, most likely from goa, maybe by way of south america, as it is sometimes known as brazilian cherry. i believe the chamoru/local name for this is pitanga (although it's usually just called "cherry" pffft), but i can't seem to find the tagalog/filipino name for it, as it does not seem to be common in the philippines. certainly, it's not so common here that everyone knows what it is, but if someone had one in their backyard they remember the fruit, which is bright orangey red when young and a deep sanguine red when ripe, thin-skinned, and juicy, with a core of tiny resinous yellowish-white seeds in the middle when immature, which rather miraculously becomes a recognizable pit upon ripening. a very attractive fruit; surely if this was in the garden of eden, we might be in less trouble today. the flesh is similar to that of the more commonly known cherry, but the flavour is not; frankly, even after eating more than a handful of these, i'm not sure exactly what the flavour is. it it vaguely reminiscent of cherry, but only because its skin is a bit tart but the rest is mellow sweet. it almost tastes like a bell pepper to me, but with a different finish--not so much bitter and spicy, but tart and slightly tomatoey. the fruit is best left to ripen on the tree, when a mere touch will bring them down. supposedly a sprinkle of sugar will intensify the flavour, and make a good substitute for strawberries. my friend bill makes these into a brilliant jam, i'm told. i'll have to ask him for the recipe, once this tree comes to full fruition.

surinam cherry

30 comments:

Very interesting. Thanks for the information.

These grow well in Hawaii and growing up we had a tree. We never could figure out what to do with them, just like starfruit. They are beautiful.

I have never had any but they look really juicy and delicious. I grew up in Hawaii and I never saw those.. I guess I never paid attention.

They look like a jelly candy! How gloriously red and healthy it looks.

These are so beautiful - I first saw a picture of them last spring when Rowena wrote about them here. Hope I run into some someday!

Here in Brazil, we call this PITANGA. I have a tree just in front of my window.It's delicious...

Your pictures are so beautiful.Thanks!

those cherries are so beautiful! they look like little candies. great photos. :)

Your pictures are absolutely stunning! Love the color of the fruit :)

hi everyone! i don't really know that much about them, but they are so beautiful i had to take photos of them. these are some of my favourite photos i've taken this year, in fact....

Wow, I have never seen any fruit like this before. They are so fun, cute, beautiful looking. I would love to reach into the computer and pick one to taste one!

S,

My grandmother had this in her yard and we were always too scared to eat them.

I saw the finale of Top Chef and just realized that Ilan made sorbet with this. I'm going to try it.

i remember lola kiska making magic out of odd fruits. i believe she can make good preserves out these cherries.

she made candies out of watermelon rinds!

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Stunning!

That cherry kinda reminds me of the wax apples/ bell apples that i used to pick off of my ninong's tree, back home on Guam.
I have never tried surinam cherries. Now i'm tempted.

Lovely post, I submitted it to Tastespotting.com. :)

Ari (Baking and Books)

Wow! I was born and raised in Hawai`i and the minute I saw the photo, I was taken back in time, with the flavor of the cherries in my mouth as if it was yesterday! My mouth is watering!! And puckering!

I'm glad I found your blog!

Interesting. And what a pretty little cherry it is. I wonder what it would taste like mixed with rhubarb. Will have to keep an eye out for these, indeed. Cheers!

hello everyone! what lovely comments, the surinam cherries cheerily thank you.

when i was six i spent six months in cagayan - a province in the northern tip of the philippines. my grandparents had one of these growing wild in one of their coconut groves. they taught me how to eat the fruits that would appear sporadically during my visit. my grandparents are gone, and i've been trying to describe this fruit to people but no one seems to know what i'm talking about. like it was a fantasy or something. i'm so happy to finally find out what it was. thanks :)

Greetings from New Jersey, Santos. (I work at the newspaper the Sopranos read on the show). These cherries look absolutely lucious.

I would like to see grapefruit

I grew up in Surinam. Never knew the name Surinam cherry. We called them momtji montji kersi. Montji means part. We only liked them when they were very ripe.
Thanks

Pitangas are so delicious! We have loads of them here in Brazil.

This cherry grew in my yard in Tampa Florida back in the 70's. I told a friend they tasted like bell pepper and thought maybe my memory was off. How could a cherry taste like a bell pepper? Then I saw that you think so too!
Anyway, it was cool to find out the name of this cherry after all these years. I don't think it will grow in Nebraska though.

hi becky, happy holidays! let me know if you find one of these in nebraska :)

Hey Santos, I know this post was a while ago, but I wanted to thank you for it. I've noticed these trees around the neighborhood, and wondered if I can eat the fruit. Now, i know! Thanks, Stella

Living in South Florida (Ft Lauderdale), all my life, I have seen this cherry bush in ever nieborhood ive been in. I tried them once when I was very young and it was bitter and tangy. I used to pick them and suck the bright red ones. Just recently I walk to the store and saw them and figured I never knew the name of them after all these years (34) until now. Thanks for the info and great pictures.