Food and Drink

   

In Season: Achacha

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There’s a new fruit in town. I don’t know that everybody’s talking about it, but it deserves a try. It’s called achacha and originates from the Amazon rainforest of Bolivia, where it has been grown domestically for centuries. The name comes form from the Bolivian word achachairú, which translates as ‘honey kiss’. Said to be difficult to grow, it’s only recently been tried outside the Amazon and an orchard was established in the Burdekin. The small orange fruit at the top of its game from early January through April.

Achachas are small, slightly larger than a lychee, oval and orange. Their shin peels easily away once you make a small slit, revealing a softish, white flesh. Also like a lychee they have quite a large pip which you can chew off the flesh.

Related to the mangosteen, they have a refreshing, acid/sweet balance and a flavour reminiscent of other tropical fruits, with a hint of lychee and passionfrruit.

Like pineapples and oranges they don’t ripen once harvested so they need to be kept at room temperature, although their flesh can be frozen, resulting in a sorbet like texture when defrosted.

Bolivians use the skins the skins to make a refreshing drink. I processed some skins with honey, sugar and boiling water, chilled the mixture overnight and strained off the liquid the next day. It was quite pleasant and very refreshing. A dash of rum would go well for a refresher with a kick.

They are high in vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, riboflavin, and anti-oxidants. Bolivians use them as a hunger suppressant. This is due to the presence of hydroxycitrates in the skins, and they may be useful as a weight loss aid as part of a healthy diet.

I made quite a refreshing salad, tossing achacha slices, with mesclun, thin slices of melon, toasted pinenuts, pomegranate seeds and a light vinaigrette.

I was plying with flavour combos for my first batch of achachas and came up with this dessert – Achachas and rock melon with ginger cream. Firstly make the syrup for the cream so that it has time to cool. This will make enough for four.

Ingredients:
½ a rock melon
12 good sized achachas
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
250 ml cream

Method:
Combine the water, ginger, and sugar in a pot. Heat, stirring until sugar dissolves, simmer until you have a syrup then chill. Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold in the cold syrup.

Peel the achachas and remove flesh from the pips. Peel and dice the melon, and combine with achachas in serving dishes. Top with the ginger cream.


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