23 May THE ORIGIN OF ACAI BERRY
Scientific name: Euterpe oleracea Mart
Botanical family: Arecaceae (Palmae)
Origin of the açaí tree: Brazil and Amazon Region (Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Guianas).
In the indigenous language called Tupi Guarani, the word açaí means “fruit that cries”, in other words, fruit that expels water.
Açaí is a fruit type berry, rounded or oval, of violet color almost black, when ripe they are reunited in bunches. The açaí has an edible pulp, enveloping the seed. It is from this small berry that is extracted by maceration the traditional and much appreciated “açaí juice or wine”, which is used in the preparation of drinks, super juices, sweets, ice cream and jellies.
Açaí has to be processed daily by virtue of its rapid fermentation, since it cannot withstand more than 48 hours even when well refrigerated. So, every day, seven days a week, before dawning completely, the sidewalks near the Ver-o-Peso Market in the capital of Pará are taken by baskets, sacks and cans full of açaí from the interior regions. It is the Açaí Fair.
Once sold on the market, the açaí will be transformed into juice. Put in warm water to soften and detach the pulp, the fruits are kneaded by hand or in appropriate machines.
In addition to the commercial process, it is customary for many Pará families to produce the “açaí wine” for their daily consumption and, selling the surplus at their houses, which is identified by a small red flag placed at the entrance door.
If in the North of Brazil, the açaí is used in the daily life of the population, not as dessert, but as a main dish, in the South and Southeast regions of Brazil, and also abroad, the use of açaí pulp has become a habit of Groups of young people, called “health generation”, who prefer to consume açaí juice, super juices, mixed with other fruits and cereals, between meals, before or after sports, as a source of energy replacement.
In fact, it is known that açaí is essentially energetic food, with a high caloric value, presenting 2.37% of protein content and 5.96% of fat. Rich in proteins, fibers, lipids, minerals (phosphorus, iron and calcium), vitamins (B1, B2) and antioxidant (anthocyanin), combats bad cholesterol (LDL) and raises good cholesterol (HDL) and also has anticancer power.
The beneficial effects of açaí for health are many. The fruit is rich in vitamins B, C complex, in addition to having many minerals such as iron, calcium and potassium. Açaí is also rich in anthocyanins, substances responsible for blood circulation.
Brazil is the world’s largest producer of açaí, responsible for 85% of the world’s supply.
Currently, Pará exports about 80% of the açaí pulp marketed in the country – around 500 tons per month – to all regions of Brazil and abroad like: Japan, United States, Europe, South America, among others.
It is certainly a booming market, which is benefiting from small collectors and local producers to large exporting companies.
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