Today’s object of desire is the moriche palm, Mauritia flexuosa. So for everyone out there with a curious palate that’s open to new experiences, here are Aguaje, an especially unique fruit that everyone should introduce their taste buds to at least once. It’s another “superfruit” falling from the tree, fresh from the Peruvian rain forest. Aguaje (pronounced ag-wah-hey), comes from the Moriche Palm tree, a palm which can grow to be 35 meters high. The leaves form a crown like shape at the top and the fruit weighs down lower branches, forming a skirt around the tree. The fruit is covered with purplish brown scales covering a yellow-orange pulp which protects the inner seed.
Aguaje fruit contains the highest concentration of beta-carotene (Vitamin A). Compared to the carrot and spinach (both known for having high Vitamin A content) the Aguaje fruit contains five times more. Carotenoids found in Aguaje oil protect the skin against the damaging effects of sunlight for neutralizing free radicals on the skin. Beta-carotene is one of the most powerful antioxidants, known for its cellular renewal ability and also for its excellent natural capacity of skin exfoliation. It is consumed naturally in juices, jams,candy, ice cream, etc. Traditionally, there are three types of aguaje: Shambo (red orange fleshy and oily pulp). Blue shambo (when the fruits acquire a bluishcolor because they are soaked in hot water to cause its ripening) Killoaguaje (bittersweet pulp and Bellow color) In Peru,it is known as aguaje; it is called buriti in Braziland moriche in Colombia andVenezuela.
These fruits resemble exactly heads of snakes. Their coarse skins look very much like the scales of a brown snake. Moriche palm fruits are delicious fresh, but are also popular for dessert dishes such as ice-cream. The trees yield huge numbers which are laid out to dry before being sent to market. The Moriche palm naturally occurs alone or in communities, and requires an abundant supply of water. For this reason, they dominate floodplains and swamps where the soil is soft and moist. The location where they grow is the result of their seeds being dispersed by water when an area is inundated. This species is dioeciously; plants have only male or female flowers. Only individuals with female flowers form fruits. Brasilian natives treat the Moriche tree as sacred because it contains the nutrients and support needed to sustain life. Natives use the oil to protect the skin and to treat a variety of skin conditions including burns and sunburn. The oil, which is cold-pressed from the pulp of the fruit, has traditionally been used as a “soothing” oil by natives (used on burns, for example). In the cosmetic industry, the Moriche oil has found its way into treatment creams, body butters, shampoos and cleansers.
4 oz. Aguaje pulp, chilled
1-1/2 cups cold low fat milk
8 teaspoons sugar
3 cups crushed ice
Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. Top with a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg.