What are jabuticaba berries? Six things you need to know

The jabuticaba — tart yet sweet and brimming with antioxidants — has long been popular in Brazil, but is little-known across the rest of the world. We get the lowdown on this mysterious and mighty berry.

By Suívie
Published 7 Nov 2020, 14:00 GMT
Jabuticaba berries are native to three states — Minas Gerais, Goiás and São Paolo — and in season ...

Jabuticaba berries are native to three states — Minas Gerais, Goiás and São Paolo — and in season for just a few weeks of the year.

Photograph by Getty Images

1. Why haven’t I heard about them?

Because they’re unequivocally Brazilian, indigenous to central and southern parts of the country. These thick-skinned, dark purple berries have an extremely short shelf life and begin to ferment three to four days after being picked, making them difficult to export anywhere else.

2. Where do they grow? 

Getting hold of these berries is no easy feat. They’re native to three states — Minas Gerais, Goiás and São Paolo — and in season for just a few weeks of the year. The way they grow is particularly striking; you’ll find them smothering the tree trunk rather than appearing among the leaves.

3. Why are they so rare? 

The jabuticaba tree only thrives in a subtropical climate, and in rich, well-drained soil. Once planted, the tree can take anywhere between six and eight years to bear fruit. This, combined with their short shelf life, makes the berries veritable gold dust outside Brazil. 

4. What do they taste like?

Their taste and appearance is most often compared to the muscadine grape — and they’re even nicknamed ‘the Brazilian grape’. Jabuticaba berries are both sweet and acidic, with tough, tart skin and a pale, fleshy centre that’s incredibly sweet. 

5. Who eats them? 

Brazilians, mainly, who prefer to eat them raw and freshly picked. To avoid them going to waste, they’re often turned into jam, jelly, juice and liquor, or added to Brazil’s beloved cocktail, caipirinha. The berry’s name derives from Tupi — an ancient Brazilian language — and means turtle (jabuti) and land (caba), in a nod to the turtles that once surrounded the area and grazed on the fruit.

6. What makes them so healthy? 

When it comes to the amount of antioxidants per 100g of fruit, jabuticaba berries out-trump blueberries, grapes and even acai. They also contain vitamins C and E, calcium, iron, potassium and phosphorus, as well as anti-inflammatory properties.

Jabuticaba berries grow by smothering the tree trunk rather than appearing among the leaves.

Photograph by Alamy

So, how can I try them? 

Thanks to Swiss-Brazilian brand Suívie, you needn’t head to the farms of Brazil to try jabuticaba. It now comes in the form of a 100% natural drink with no added sugars, sweeteners or preservatives. It contains just four ingredients: Swiss spring water, jabuticaba berries, pressed apple and ginger, and is naturally low in calories. What’s more, Suívie buys directly from farmers in Brazil and Switzerland. At the São Paulo farm where the berries are grown, Suívie has created jobs for up to 40 people, generating a source of income in an area where it’s much needed.

Suívie Jabuticaba is available to buy from Amazon and Whole Foods Market stores across London.

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