Think you are seeing blueberries?
Think you are seeing blueberries? Nope, these are garambullo, one of many cactus fruits enjoyed by locals in the central parts of Mexico. Like other red-purple-blue fruits such as cranberry, pomegranate and blueberries, the pigment indicates high levels of anthocyenins which is among those flavonoids highly recommended for good health.
Wait…what are flavonoids again?
Just think about eating a broad spectrum of color – each colour group plays a role in protecting your body’s cells against disease and boosting function of organs. This particular red-blue family is understood overall to be anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial; for guarding the liver against damage, reducing blood pressure, improving eyesight. And if you have heard before of “free radicals” these anthocyanins scavenge for them. Feel better? You should– free radicals are troublemakers; un-paired molecules that float around damaging healthy cells which, in the worst case scenarios, leads to cancer and heart disease.
Now that you know ‘why’, let’s talk about ‘how’ to enjoy garambullo fruits.
When you are in parts of Central Mexico (from Queretaro, north to San Luis Potosí, generally) where cactus dominate the landscape, you’ll find garambullo in season in May. It’s a short season, but the harvest is frozen, so thereafter you can find it … well, until it runs out. As a paleta (popsicle) or nieve (fruit sorbet) it’s absolutely delicious. Slightly blueberry, a bit of grape or raspberry to the flavor, and a color of technicolor magenta. While there will be added sugar, there is not much–the fresh fruit flavor is allowed to shine through and the little seeds just slip down your throat easily. You could easily justify it as a ‘not-so-guilty- pleasure’.
Right now, I am experimenting with using it to make a naturally fermented fruit vinegar. You can follow any standard recipe you like.
Try this link for some ideas
Any thoughts on other ways to use these special fruits? I’d love to hear your ideas!
A delicious way to try out a new exotic fruit (and sometimes vegetables) is by getting adventurous with the different flavors of “ice cream.” Some are made with milk, others are pure fruit ices with a touch of sugar.
So what’s the difference between ‘Nieves’ and ‘Helados’?
Nieves: NYEH-vayz –from the word for snow, are made without dairy, similar
Helados: ell-AH-doz –from “congelado” con-hell-AH-do meaning ‘frozen’. Made with milk, not cream, so are lighter and less creamy-rich than, say, Ben & Jerry’s
Paletas: pa-LEH-tas are the equivalent frozen treat on a stick
Clear the way Cookies & Cream, we’re ready for something a little more exotic…
Zapote Negro – this unique fruit is easiest to find in the late fall into winter. Often referred to in English as the “chocolate pudding” fruit, it has a mild, chocolate flavor and a custardy consistency which lends itself to delicious creamy-without-the cream nieves.
Maracuyá – Passion fruit. Anticipate a complex, exotic flavor… lemon, rhubarb and strawberry. The fruit has small seeds and these are left in and give it a delightful crunch.
Elote – Corn blended with milk makes a delicious helado. Try it alongside a berry flavor like Zarzamoro (blackberry) or my personal favorite….
Garambullo –A dark purple-red “berry”, a cactus fruit rich in antioxidants, just like cranberries or super-fruits like the Acai (nieve)
Guanábana – A fruit that’s getting a lot of attention for its cancer-fighting nutrients. The flavor is light and tropical: vanilla, pineapple and banana-ish… like many exotic fruits it’s hard to describe. It has large seeds, which most often are left in – a bit of an inconvenience maybe, but you know you’re getting real fruit!
Tuna –The prickly pear fruit of the nopal cactus is called tuna in Mexico. It’s another fruit rich in antioxidants, with a flavor that might compare to watermelon + raspberry
Mamey – think sweet potato with a touch of malt
In Mexico, you’ll encounter street vendors selling myriad flavors….”Beso de Angel” – Angel’s Kiss, “Petales de Rosas”- Rose Petal, and many other creative concoctions, which are a change from Cookies and Cream (though you’ll find that too). but, if your interest is in tasting unusual natural fruit flavors try asking:
¿Hay un sabor de la fruta de temporada? ~ Is there a seasonal fruit flavor?
pronunciation : eye oon saBOR day la FROOta day tem-po-RAH-da?
Paletas are also fun and easy to make at home…
If you have kids and want to teach them to make a healthy summer snack, I recommend Fany Gerson’s “Paletas” –and not just for kids. A good many of the recipes are exotic and downright sophisticated.
A great idea for a fiesta!
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BPA-free popsicle mold