Health Benefits of Acerola and Nutrient.
Acerolas are round or oval, cherry-like fruits that range from 2 to 4 inches in diameter. When ripe, the skin turns bright red. The soft, juicy flesh is yellow and has a slightly tart flavor.
Scientific name Malpighia punicifolia L., Malpighia glabra L.
Common name Barbados cherry, West Indian cherry, cereza.
♥ High in vitamin C.
♥ A good source of vitamin A (beta-carotene).
The Florida Sweet variety, commonly grown in California, yields large, juicy fruits that have a taste similar to apples. Manoa Sweet, a variety developed in Hawaii, has orange-red fruits that are especially sweet. A dwarf variety, which grows to a height of only 2 feet, can tolerate lower temperatures than the other varieties and is suited for container cultivation.
Origin & botanical facts.
The acerola is believed to have originated in the Yucatán peninsula of Mexico. Since its discovery, the plant has been introduced throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, but it is still primarily grown in and around the West Indies. The acerola is a large, bushy shrub that can attain a height of 15 feet. Although the plant grows best in hot tropical lowlands with medium to high rainfall, it is also very drought-tolerant. Acerolas need protection against frost and winds because their root system is shallow and they can be toppled by high winds. The leaves are covered with hair, are light to dark green, and become glossy when mature. The small, white to pink flowers Bloom throughout the year. Because up to 90 percent of the blossoms fall from the plant, only a few of the flowers set fruit. When grown from seed, plants begin to fruit after 2 or 3 years. An 8-year-old tree may yield 30 to 60 pounds of fruit a year.
Because acerolas deteriorate quickly and undergo rapid fermentation once removed from the tree, they should be refrigerated if not used immediately. Unrefrigerated fruits can develop mold within 3 to 5 days. Acerolas can be eaten raw, made into jams and jellies, or puréed into juice. They have been used as a supplemental source of vitamin C, to make baby food, and as an ingredient in ice cream.
Acerolas contain the most concentrated source of natural vitamin C of any known fruit, 100 times the vitamin C content of oranges and 10 times that of the guava. Green (unripe) fruits have twice the vitamin C content of ripe fruits. They are also a good source of vitamin A (betacarotene).