Acai berries may be the latest fruit sensation to hit the health industry, but don’t make the mistake of underestimating its nutritional value. Acai berries aren’t called the world’s #1 superfood for nothing. Read on to learn more about how and where these tiny but mighty fruits come from.
Parts of an Acai Palm
The stem is also known as the “heart of palm”. It is soft to touch and grows from within. You will not, however, see such stems in all acai palms. The stem is often used as an ingredient in salads.
The acai berry is indubitably the best-known product of the acai palm. It is approximately 25 millimeters (1 inch) in diameter and its shape, size, and color makes it easy for many to mistake acai berries for grapes. An acai palm normally produces about 700 to 900 fruits in two batches or harvests annually.
Acai berries have lesser pulp compared to grapes. Its seed is about seven to ten millimeters (.25 to .40 inches) in diameter. Depending on the level of maturity and the type of acai palm it grows from, the exocarp of acai berries may possess a deep purplish color when ripe or somewhat greenish when it’s still young or immature. The mesocarp of an acai berry, on the other hand, is thin and pulpy, possessing of approximately 1 millimeter of thickness or less. The mesocarp surrounds the tough but large endocarp. It is within the endocarp you’ll not only find the seed but the embryo as well.
Uses of Acai Berry
Besides harvesting acai berries for food, people have also found alternative uses for acai palms. Its trunk wood, for instance, is used as construction material and is prized because of its high resistance level to pests. They may also be processed for their mineral content. Its leaves, on the other hand, are used to make roof thatch, brooms, baskets, mats, hats, and other kinds of craft products.
Even the seeds of acai berries have proven to be useful. Besides being an excellent source of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as for planting new acai palms, they may also be combined with other substances to produce organic soil or ground for livestock food.
Harvesting Acai Berries in the Amazon
The Amazon rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world and is rich in biodiversity. Among its many native treasures is the acai palm. These trees can grow up to twenty-five meters high and possess clumps of leafy branches. As mentioned earlier on, harvest season for acai palm trees occur twice each year.
According to local traditions, brave natives used to be tasked for scaling the trees’ great heights. Upon reaching the top, the men would have to cut off the branches so that the village may make use of its berries.
Today, however, small farming villages are responsible for the mass production of acai berries. Upon harvesting the berries in baskets, they are then shipped to local markets or transferred to processing plants to manufacture acai based products. Because of its short lifespan, acai producers must ascertain that the entire process takes place in no more than 24 hours.
Processing acai berries may be freeze died and turned into power. It may also be dried or turned into juice, smoothies, and other types of drinks. And when the label’s been attached, the acai based products will soon find its way to your refrigerator.