Acerola, also known as Barbados cherry or West Indian cherry, is grown to a minor extent in the frost-free regions of Florida and in Hawaii, primarily in home gardens. It tastes wonderful mixed with cherry in a refreshing beverage:

This plant is most noted for the extremely high ascorbic acid (vitamin C) content of its fruit, with 10 to 40 mg of edible fruit, far more than any other known fruit.

One fruit the size of a large sweet cherry can furnish a man’s daily requirement of this vitamin.

The fruit, which is also rich in iron, can be eaten raw. It is used in sherbet, ice cream, smoothies and jelly as well as baby foods, fruit nectars, and soft drinks. They have been used as a supplemental source of vitamin C as an ingredient in ice cream.

You can add acerolas to your foods in just about any way you think you would enjoy.

The juice of an acerola retains its cherry-red color and flavor if it is processed and frozen immediately. The development of a chemical method of producing vitamin C has reduced the need for acerola.

Acerola is a shrub or small tree to 15 feet tall, with thick spreading branches and conspicuous raised white lenticels or “breathing pores” in its bark. The plants are set 6 to 15 feet apart and bear when about 2 years old.

The fruit is light orange to dark red, three lobed, soft, thin skinned, and juicy and looks somewhat like a small, rather flat tomato. It ripens 3 to 4 weeks after flowering. Some fruits are sweet, whereas others may be tart. They may be borne singly or in clusters of two or three.

Recipe: Acerola Sauce

  • 2 pounds fresh acerola
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the acerola with 2 quarts cold water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and boil for approximately 5 minutes. Drain the acerola, let cool slightly, then blend completely in a blender, in batches if necessary.

Pass the resulting acerola pulp through a fine sieve into a medium saucepan. Add the parsley, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook, stirring from time to time, for approximately 10 minutes or until the sauce is nicely thickened. Use the sauce to substitute for tomato sauce in any savory recipe.

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