Acerola/Puerto Rican Cherry/Malpighia punicifolia

Have you ever heard of Acerola and did you know that it has been considered the number one superfood in the whole world? For such a little fruit, the Acerola cherry (also known as Puerto Rican cherry) is packed with real vitamin C. In fact, there have been over 150 ingredients discovered in Acerola Cherry, and many of these have been identified as rich in antioxidants, carotenoids, vitamins, phyto-nutrients, and minerals that promote overall health and well-being.

Acerola Cherry is believed to originate in the Yucatan and is distributed from South Texas to northern South America and through the Caribbean. It has become naturalized in Cuba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico after cultivation, and is commonly grown in dooryards in the Bahamas and Bermuda. The Acerola plant is a small tree shrub that maintains its leaves year-round. Typically, the plant grows to a height of 6.5 feet to 10 feet, though some reach 20 feet. Acerola plants have branches that produce flowers, fruit and leaves that are green and glossy, with an ovular shape. Its flowers have five petals and 10 stamens, and range in color from pale pink to red. The cherries tend to be about 1 inch in diameter and grow in pairs or trios, and each fruit contains three seeds. After flower set, fruit soon follows and will ripen in just 3- 4 weeks. Fruits lose their flavor and nutritional content very rapidly upon harvest. Ripe Acerola should be picked and eaten within a few hours to preserve taste. As a result, the tree is not cultivated for commercial production of fresh fruits. Malpighia punicifolia berries are very rich in vitamin C; one single berry contains 80 milligram of vitamin C -133% of the daily recommended dose. The berries are also rich in vitamin A, iron and calcium.

Both the berries and powder are delicious and nutritious. Acerola cherries are eaten out-of-hand, mainly by children. For dessert use, they are delicious merely stewed with whatever amount of sugar is desired to modify the acidity of the particular type available. The cooked fruits must be strained to remove the seeds and the resulting sauce or puree can be utilized as a topping on cake, pudding and ice cream; also they’re added to smoothies, syrups, jams and jellies.

Panna Cotta with Vanilla Syrup Acerola

Preparation time: 20 Minutes
Cooling time: at least 4 hours
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients for the Panna Cotta
500ml whipping cream
1 vanilla bean
1 / 3 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 spoon (soup) of water (to hydrate the gelatin)
2 teaspoons (tsp) unflavored gelatin powder

Ingredients for the syrup
300g of frozen acerola pulp
3-4 teaspoons (tablespoons) granulated sugar

Prepare the panna cotta. Dissolve gelatin in water and leave for about 5 minutes moisturizing.
Open the vanilla bean lengthwise and remove seeds. Over medium heat the cream with the vanilla bean and seeds. When it boils, lower the heat and add the gelatine. Stir until dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, pass the mixture through a sieve and let come to room temperature. Distribute the containers desired and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until firm.

Prepare the syrup. Take the pulp to the fire with the sugar, let it reduce by half. Remove from heat and let cool. Unmold the panna cotta and serve with the syrup.

Delicia, right?

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