The Grocer: Achacha

A traditional fruit to ring in the New Year amongst the tropical Amazon Basin of Bolivia, achacha (pronounced ah-cha-cha) is now also grown in the Burdekin region in north Queensland.

Translating to ‘honey kiss’, this South American egg-shaped fruit is a cousin to the mangosteen, combining a bright orange skin, creamy pearl-white flesh and sorbet-like flavour that also holds similar characteristics to a lychee. Inside the fruit you’ll find one tiny seed to eat around as well as one, or sometimes more, large brown seeds. To open the fruit, pierce the skin with your thumb or a knife and pop open by squeezing each side of the fruit.

The achacha tree produces its first crop at seven years of age, with the plant boasting a lifespan of at least 30 years, producing around 30,000 fruit. Harvest occurs between December and March, with the fruit not ripening further once picked from the tree. While best kept unrefrigerated between 10–25ºC, the fruit can change taste in the hot Queensland summer heat. So pop them in a container or bag in a cool, room-temperature spot in the pantry or place in the fridge for a few hours before eating.

A valuable source of vitamin C, potassium, riboflavin and antioxidants, the achacha is also rich in folate – essential for healthy blood and cells. It also contains less than half the sugar of other exotic fruits.

Enhance oysters with the subtle delicate sweetness and lemony tart zing of the achacha in granita form or freeze the fruit in its skin and serve as a natural sorbet and refreshing palate cleanser between courses at your exotic homecooked dinner party. You can turn the discarded skins into a thirst quencher, cool off with an achacha mint popsicle or take the fruit in dessert form in an achacha and pomegranate crema with pistachio praline. The tropical treat is also a lovely addition to champagne or in a summer cocktail, as well as a zesty addition to a salad or on your morning muesli.

Image via Australian Tropical Foods.

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