WRITTEN BY MICHELLE T.M. LEE
WHAT IS IT?
The açaí berry, a small, round, black-purple drupe about 1” in size, looks similar to a grape, but smaller and with less pulp. It grows on a palm that can produce up to 900 fruits at a time. Ripe fruit is usually a deep purple color, though some va-rieties of açaí can be green. Underneath the skin, a thin layer of pulp surrounds a single large seed about ½” in diameter. The seed makes up about 80% of the fruit. Açaí palm trees typically yield two crops a year and are harvested during the dry season, between July and December. Apart from the use of its fruit for food or beverage, the açaí palm has other commercial applications. Leaves may be made into hats, mats, baskets, brooms and roof thatch for homes, and the trunk wood, resistant to pests, can be used for building construction. Açaí seeds can be ground for livestock feed or used as a component in organic soil. The seeds are a source of polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids.
HOW DO YOU EAT IT?
In the general consumer market, açaí is sold as frozen pulp, juice, or the ever popular açaí bowl topped with fresh fruit, nuts and other local toppings.