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Surinam Cherrys, aka: Pitangas
Surinam cherries are very odd to me. They taste sweet and tart like a regular cherry, but with a lighter flavor and a deeply permeated, inherently perfumed flavor much like quince or violet and rose flavored desserts. I find these cherries only barely palatable, even though I generally love perfumed desserts. I think with these, it’s just that I haven’t yet figured out quite how to use them.
Here, a trio in various stages of ripening hangs from the branch on the tree behind the house. They hang from a stem and with their glowing translucence, look just like little Chinese lanterns for tree fairies, lit from within. Really beautiful!
Not knowing what to do with them didn’t stop me from noticing that they were coming into season and so I set up an old ladder between the branches, balanced a bag between tree limbs and began to collect them, trying hard to maintain consciousness while breathing in the most deliciously dizzying fragrance ever. Tree breath, mmm. It’s almost as if they were happy to see me because they literally fell into my hands as I reached for them. I hope I do them justice. What comes to mind is some sort of vinegar preparation. Hmm…Possibly a fruit leather would be very interesting as well. Ok, now I am beginning to see some inspiration take hold. I’ll take a longer look at it and post an update at some point…
Very striking color, though these are far lighter than most I see. Usually they are nearly the color of Bing cherry’s, which are a dark reddish-purple close to black. There are several varieties and of course, the old adage proves true: the darker the berry, the sweeter the fruit, haha! The darker ones are also very high in lycopenes, which help keep cholestorol levels healthy. Surinames, or Pitangas as they are called in their native Brazil, are distinctively translucent however, regardless of color. Though of the lighter, more tart variety, the fruits of this tree are fully ripe: juicy and soft. This one was very tart, though, wow, and with that fascinating ‘perfumed’ flavor. If you let them sit on the tree when they’re ripe, but not yet dark, then bugs and birds get to them very quickly so I’ll just need to be creative in deciding how to use them. Hmm…I might try pickling them!
It is quite nice to be up in the tree branches, surrounded by the most beautiful fragrance and fruits and blossoms everywhere. If you haven’t climbed a tree lately – and we forget how great this is all too soon after becoming adults – then I highly recommend you seek out a tree that looks like it would be manageable and give it a climb! Hanging out there among the leaves is just so nice, it really is. You should try it.
This is the typical size, quite large and juicy, with a thin, delicate skin. I paused in writing this and have just pureed the bunch I picked to turn into fruit leather and then realized that I am out of agave. I think yakon syrup would work well too, but I don’t have that either, so it will keep in the fridge until tomorrow. I found that even sitting for one day, many of the perfect-when-picked cherries had already begun to soften, so the puree was a good idea after all. I’ll post an update on the fruit leather in days to follow.