Fad or Future

Move over acai: Brazilian fruit cupuacu is the new king of the jungle

This cacao-like fruit has potential as an ingredient across a number of categories and boasts unique health attributes.

3 September 2019
image credit: Getty Images

Sweet and acidic, with a chocolatey pineapple flavour, cupuacu (pronounced coo-poo-asoo) is a tropical fruit that possesses a number of qualities in its flesh and seeds.

It comes from an Amazonian tree and is pretty efficient in terms of food waste. The fruit’s pulp can be used to make juices, sorbets, ice cream, jam, tarts, puddings, mousses and smoothies, while the seeds contain a sweet-smelling butter that is particularly good for chocolate as it has a high fat content that gives a natural shiny finish.

Even the bark can be used to create handicraft items by local communities.

The process of making cupuacu chocolate is identical to that of cacao, with the seeds of the fruit used in the same method to produce a bar: roast, crack, winnow, grind, add sugar, make into a butter and conche.

Brazilian producer called Amma makes an 80% cupuacu dark chocolate which, according to the brand, starts off like gianduja (hazelnut chocolate spread), before slowly inducing a very fruity flavour profile, with distinct notes of durian.

Frutos da Amazonia, meanwhile, uses the fruit to make a spreadable jelly, cookies and candy with a cupuaca filling.

Manufacturer Blue Macau Flora makes pieces of dehydrated apple covered with crunchy cupuacu flakes, but also sells it as a powder.

Healthy wins

Apart from its exotic appeal, cupuaca’s health benefits could be a big selling point. It’s rich in vitamins A and C, along with fibre, calcium, potassium and phosphorus, as well as a unique set of polyphenols that aren’t found in any other fruit.

It’s even claimed that it has a caffeine-like effect, though it doesn’t actually contain caffeine.

Compared to acai, cupuacu’s larger berries are less susceptible to the elements thanks to thicker skins, which also help slow down the loss of antioxidants and vitamins over time. Additionally, cupuacu trees generally produce more fruit.

Is Sparkie set to swap his Brazilian fruit fix?


Sparkie says:

This one does seem to have potential. The main barrier to a lot of these fruits coming here is the shelf life, and while there doesn’t seem to be much information on fresh cupuacu, it is already being processed into products like frozen pulp that food manufacturers could make simple use of.

There are some claims that it has unique health benefits arising from a group of polyphenols that are only in this fruit, so it has some marketability too. The lower caffeine content compared to chocolate may also be a draw for the health market.

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