I was inspired to write this post on cherries after reading a Facebook post from a friend of mine. She talked about how it reminded her of her childhood. They used to take them from their neighbors yard, and eat them, although it was clear they didn’t really like the taste. So yes, for some surinam cherries are an acquired taste, if in fact you ever acquire the taste to the like them. I have always liked them. They’re unusual tasting, kind of sour with a pepper taste, with a resin quality. Wow, that sounds delicious, doesn’t it??. Did I mention they’re unusual? We have four surinam cherry bushes growing on our property. One was here when we moved in, but we’ve planted a few others. We have a couple of varieties, one is more dark red in color when ripe, and the cherry is slightly smaller in size. The other is dark dark purple when ripe, and the berry is larger. While I like surinam cherries anyway, the dark purple one is definitely sweeter, and I do prefer it.
Surinam is native to … Surinam, and Guyana, French Guiana, southern Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. It was introduced to Florida in the ’30’s, and now they can be found in warm climates all over the globe. The skin of the fruit is very thin, and bruise easily; you can see in the middle picture above one of the berries has some of the skin peeled off – that’s just from picking it.
We like to eat them as is fresh off the bush, but when we get a bunch, I make jelly and jam. A little bit of sugar makes a huge difference, and the jelly is really good. You have to eat them ripe, if you don’t like them anyway, you will really not like them if they’re not ripe. They’re best eaten chilled, and in their native home, they are cut in half, pitted, and sprinkled with sugar. I’ve never tried it that way, but I imagine they would be good,(although I’m trying to cut back on sugar). They’ve also been known to make a really nice fine wine … hmmm, maybe I’ll try that.
The bushes can get up to 25 feet tall and are known to take up to 10 years to fruit. All of ours, however, fruited way earlier than this. We have one small bush about two feet tall that was loaded with cherries this year.
The fruit itself is high in Vitamin A & C. The bushes are often planted as ornamentals. When in season, you can end up with a bunch of cherries on the ground, which is nice for all the chickens we have, but maybe not so nice if you’re just trying to create pretty looking landscape. I can understand why some people don’t care for these unusual cherries, but if you’re game to try, go for the darkest purple one you can find.
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