Wednesday, 1 February 2012

achacha, a tasty tropical fruit

Have you ever met a stranger who reminded you of a loved one?

It may be the way they look, the way they move, the way they smile. It could be the sound of their voice, the scent of their cologne... and, inexplicably... the way they make you feel.

I experienced this sense of déjà vu recently, with a fruit that was entirely new to me.

The achacha.

Achachairu fruits, also known as achacha in Australia.

At first glance, the achacha - or achachairu - is like nothing else I know. Pry it open, however, and its creamy white flesh immediately reminds me of the fruit I adore and miss, one that is abundant in my home country: mangosteen, the queen of fruits.

Pop it into my mouth, and it confirms this impression - achachas are, indeed, remarkably similar to my beloved mangosteens... that same soft texture, that same beguiling taste that defies description. And no wonder, for achacha is a cousin of the mangosteen, as I found out later. Yet there are some crucial little differences. It's a little less sweet, a little more acidic. But that's not all; it even teases me with barely-there hints of duku langsat - another tropical fruit I recall with much fondness.

I like it. I like it so very much.

A popped-open achacha.

After purchasing and sampling my achachas, I hopped online to find out more about them. As usual, the Internet is a saviour. I am educated on the native home of the fruit (the Amazon Basin of Bolivia), and how it has been successfully cultivated in North Queensland - hence why it is now available in Australia. I also observed an alternative way to access the flesh (pierce with a fingernail, then squeeze to crack the fruit open - I had been using a knife to make a slight incision before prying them open, which works fine too). I discover that achachas are best stored at a moderate room temperature, though they may be chilled before eating if you like them cool, which I do. I learn that "achacha" is in fact an Australianised condensation of the original name "achachairu", which means "honey kiss" in the indigenous Guaraní language.

If this post has piqued your curiosity, here's what looks to be the official website for Australian grown achachas with lots of information, including where to buy. Good luck!

31 comments:

  1. I have never even heard of this - it looks so intriguing! I wonder if I can find one??

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  2. How interesting... I have never heard of the achacha but love the milky interior which reminds me a bit of coconut...I'm not sure I have ever come across one in Canada ;) but I will have to keep an eye out now... similar in taste to mangostein you say, it certainly looks like it. What fun learning about this fruit. Thanks Leaf ~

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    1. Thanks Kelly. I had fun learning about the achacha fruit too. If you like mangosteens you will almost certainly like it.

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  3. Thank you!! I saw these in Coles just the other day and almost bought them because I'd heard they were delicious, but I held off because I wasn't sure what I should be looking for for ripeness (soft? hard? The ones at Coles were all a bit spotty-brown and soft). I'll definitely get them next time :) :)

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    1. I was happy with the batch I got, which were smooth and firm, but not too hard. I've since bought a softer batch, which seemed a bit riper and sweeter. Enjoyed both batches. Not sure about the spotty ones though! I would hazard a guess that they were overripe or not stored properly?

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  4. Ooooh, curiosity definitely piqued - I haven't yet come across a tropical fruit I don't like.

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  5. Reminds me of tamarillo for some reason. Of course, but have different insides.

    Not a huge fan of duku langsat so this may not play to my strings. :D

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    1. It's more mangosteen than duku langsat, I think, so you might still like it. Can just buy a couple to try! ;)

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  6. Unpeeled it actually reminds me of Sapodilla.
    Will have to check these out next time I'm shopping, thanks for posting!

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    1. It's really different to the sapodilla, though that is also one fruit I miss!

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  7. Oooh, I love something new to try! Thank you for posting about these, I will have to seek them out.

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  8. I've never seen one of these, they look delicious! I'm going to have to see if I can find any near me. Thanks!

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  9. A lovely profile of a lovely fruit - thanks for sharing. You do have a lovely way with words.

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    1. Thank you, The Food Sage, that means a lot coming from someone of your calibre. x

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  10. How intriguing! Thank you for sharing, have never heard of this fruit before, shows how much more we have to discover out there :)

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  11. Huh? Achacha! It may seem weird but I've never, ever heard of it before. It looks really interesting! (And I'm sure it's really delicious too. I loved the way you described it.)

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    1. I've not heard of it before until recently, either. They really are delicious!

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  12. This looks like a wonderful fruit! (of course all fruits are, when they are good!); for some reason it reminds me of the custard apple we call ashta here.

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  13. Thank you for this incredible discovery. I have never heard about this fruit, not to mention seeing it or tasting! I love discovering new plants and fruits, even if it means only virtual discovery. I have really enjoyed reading this post.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this post. It's fun to share these discoveries!

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  14. Arrghh I'm too lazy to read where to buy it as I know you're in Melbourne (right?) WHERE!!!??? I want mangosteen tasting fruits!

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    1. Ha, you lazy one! You should be able to find them at Queen Victoria Market, South Melbourne Market and Prahran Market, as well as some selected greengrocers and Coles branches. The Australian season ends sometime in March so get them while you can. :)

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  15. They made me think of sorbet - even though they're not cold or icy. Weird right? I liked them tho. :)

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    1. I think my aunt mentioned it being sorbet-like, too. Something to do with the texture, I think.

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  16. Yay! You posted something about Achachas! Ever since our twitter convo I have been thinking about getting more and more of these. Do you know any good recipes for them?

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    1. I've been enjoying them so much plain that I haven't really wanted to do anything else with them! The website I linked to has some recipes. And if I do successfully create an achacha recipe I'll be sure to blog it. :D

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  17. Lol what? How do you come across these things in the first place! Another great discovery, Leafy. And you really did just name my some of my favourite local fruits in this post, the mangosteen and duku langsat. I've been eating so much of them more than any other fruits since I've been back. Really hope to try this out someday =)

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    1. They're still in season at the moment! Go try it. :D

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  18. I've got a friend who put these on the dessert menu of a high profile menu in Sydney about 12 months ago. Everyone was worried that it wouldnt sell because no one knew about it but it was very successful! What a beautiful looking fruit. Kind of like a light bulb :)

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    1. Oh, that's cool! I'd like to try your friend's desserts!

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