Fresh and natural

Delicious exotic fruit from Chile

From the juicy chirimoya to the sweet Chilean strawberry and the thousand properties of the maqui berry, Chile offers tasty and healthy fruit with very special flavors.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010  

It is very likely that the term "Chilean fruit" has already come to your attention. In supermarkets all over the world it is possible to find Chilean apples and grapes, but if you are in the country and want to try something more exotic, Chile also offers a tasty selection of fruit that would be difficult for you to find elsewhere.


Maqui berry

 

This is an evergreen shrub with bushy branches, small white flowers and very small, sweet, purpley-black berries.

 

This fruit originates in the south of Chile, where the Mapuche used it as a food supplement and to prepare “chicha”, an alcoholic beverage. It also has curative features, because it helps to form scar tissue, has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties and is one of the most powerful known antioxidants.

 

In fact, many companies in Chile and other countries have become aware of the innumerable beneficial properties of the maqui berry, and have even called it the “super fruit” or “superberry”. In Chile it grows naturally and can be found in markets in the south of the country either fresh or in jellies.

 

Chirimoya

 

Native of the area of Los Andes, it was catalogued by Mark Twain as “the most delicious fruit known to man”. In Chile it can be found fresh in the central zone of the country, mainly in the regions of Coquimbo and Valparaíso. For this reason, if you want to taste the best chirimoyas you should go to fruit stalls and markets in cities such as La Serena or Quillota.

 

The plant belongs to the annonaceous family and its fruit is rounded in shape, with a green skin. Inside its flesh is white, creamy, soft and sweet.

 

In some places it is known as “custard apple” because of its similarity to an apple, although its flesh is meatier. A very traditional way of eating it in Chile is bathed in orange juice, contrasting the sweet taste of the fruit with the acidity and freshness of the citrus. This combination is called “chirimoya alegre” (happy chirimoya) locally.

 

Rose hip

 

This is a shrub that grows wild in Chile. Its fruit is oval and brilliant orange in color. It sometimes produces a dehydrated version called “achene”, which is deeper red.

 

The powerful oil contained in its seeds is used to manufacture numerous cosmetic and health products. It has multiple attributes, and it can even be used to make jellies and all kinds of foodstuffs. For this reason, it is currently marketed in a large variety of products, from herbal tea to skin cream.

 

Rose hip is mainly found in the region of Bío Bío in Chile and represents a huge export potential. “Business Chile” data indicate that the country accounts for 85% of international rose hip supply.

 

The most common way of consuming it is in jelly form, because the fruit itself is rather dry and hard, but its juice is delicious as well as very healthy. 

 

Papaya

 

Although it is also found in other regions of the world, this yellow fruit with a melon-like texture has a special taste in the area around the city of La Serena in the region of Coquimbo. A large variety of products prepared with the fruit are offered from that city: from juice and syrup to alcohol and candied fruit.

 

The papaya has a thin skin and inside it has a sweet taste and very agreeable aroma, making it appropriate for producing ice cream, syrup, honey, sweet beverages, candy and liquor.

 

It also has excellent curative properties and is used to treat intestinal disorders such as ulcers or colon problems.

 

The most important feature of the papaya is the enzyme it contains. Called “papain”, it is the best catalyst for the digestion of proteins.

 

Chilean or “white” strawberry

 

The Chilean strawberry is a native and paler version of the traditional strawberry, but no less sweet. In fact, some call it “pineapple strawberry” because its taste is similar to that of the tropical fruit.

 

The first to try this type of berry were the Mapuche and Picunche peoples of the central and southern zone of the country. The first European to taste it was the Jesuit chronicler Alonso de Ovalle, who found this fruit in the countryside in the south of the country. For this reason he baptized it Fragaria chiloensis, or strawberry from the Chilean island of Chiloé.

 

It is a very juicy and aromatic strawberry that is currently cultivated from the west of North America to the southernmost parts of Chile and Argentina. There are red, yellow and white varieties.

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