Where Does It Come From?
Indigenous to the rainforests of South America, açaí berries are the fruits of the açaí palm tree. They’re found high up in the trees (often at heights of 50 feet or more), so harvesting them can be a dangerous process. Though most of the U.S. supply comes from Brazil, açaí is also grown in the tropical climates of Hawaii and South Florida.
Can I Get It Fresh?
Açaí berries are extremely perishable, lasting 24 hours at best before spoiling, so finding them fresh is nearly impossible if you don’t live near a farm that grows them. That being said, açaí berries freeze extremely well, so frozen purees and berries don’t see a significant drop in quality. Additionally, you may come across juiced or powdered açaí berries.
What Are The Health Benefits?
Even though açaí is widely considered a “superfood,” a lot of people don’t know why! For starters, açaí has an uncommon nutritional profile for a fruit, as it’s high in healthy fats but has a minuscule sugar content despite its sweetness. However, the real power of açaí comes in its huge antioxidant count, which is more than three times the amount of blueberries!
What Does It Taste Like?
Interestingly enough, açaí berries are very rarely eaten right off the tree as they have a tough outer skin. However, once the skin is softened, it’s hard to stop eating them. Açaí has the sweetness you’d expect from a tropical fruit, but has underlying notes of blackberries and dark chocolate that bring in unexpected tart and bitter flavors. When taken as a whole, açaí berries are simultaneously rich, sweet, and rewarding.
What Can I Make With It?
Without a doubt, açaí bowls are the most popular way to serve the fruit. Essentially a scoop-able smoothie bowl with a variety of fruits, nuts, and grains for toppings, açaí bowls are an absolutely delicious and nutritious breakfast item. They’re particularly popular with the health conscious and young-adult crowds, as they’re healthy, hip, and aesthetically pleasing. Don’t think that açaí berries have to be thrown in a bowl though; their rich and sweet flavor makes them excellent ingredients in deserts and cocktails!