It sounds like something a child dreamed up: peanut butter fruit. But from high in the Andes mountains, home of acai, quinoa, and chia, comes this superfood.
Only available during certain times of the year, this plant isn’t common in the United States. But you can find it in a select number of markets along the southern coast.
Join us while we look at the fascinating history of this peanut-buttery berry and where you can get your hands on some.
Let’s dig in!
Did You Say Peanut Butter Fruit?
Bunchosia glandulifera, peanut butter fruit trees to you and me, grows in Central and South America. At first glance, the tomato-colored berries look similar to coffee cherries. You won’t get a buzz after munching on them.
Ripe bulbs look like grape tomatoes, but their looks are deceiving. The smooth, creamy, slightly sticky texture feels almost like peanut butter. With hints of berries and sweet potatoes, some think it might be better named “peanut butter and jelly fruit.”
In regions where it’s native, cooks use it in smoothies, baked goods, and jellies. Most folks, though, enjoy the fruit in its natural state. Raw and freshly washed, they contain one or two seeds. Like cherries, you’ll have to work a little to get the goods. But they’re worth it!
Can You Eat Peanut Butter Fruit?
Part of the acerola family, peanut butter fruit is a delightful treat when in season. Intensely red, like their cherry cousins, these peculiar drupes are oblong, like a football.
If you’ve been on vacation in Hawaii and stopped at a farmer’s market, you’ve probably seen peanut butter fruit for sale. In season from June-July, you won’t find it in grocery stores.
When you can get your hands on it, the first bite will send your taste buds spinning. Pop a few into your mouth and carefully remove the pits. The creamy pulp is fruity but also rich and creamy. The nutty flavor just gets stronger the more you eat.
Because it doesn’t keep well, you can make preserves with your extra crop. Separate the fruit from the seeds and freeze the pulp for later use. Jam, jelly, or syrup keeps the flavor long after the berries are out of season.
Out at farmer’s markets in areas where the tree grows, try to find slightly unripe fruit. You can keep it on your kitchen table for a few days and ripen it to perfection.
Pro Tip: Fruit flies on your peanut butter fruit? Use this guide on How to Easily Get Rid Of Fruit Flies.
Is It Good for You?
Like many fruits native to South America “discovered” by popular culture, myths are better than reality. While peanut butter berries contain many beneficial nutrients, it’s not all a bowl of cherries.
It’s a healthy choice for most people because it’s high in protein, rich in fiber, and packed with antioxidants. A diet that includes these elements contributes to an overall healthy lifestyle. That said, the fruit contains some aspects that specific diets avoid.
Natural sugars, a source of carbohydrates, count as healthy sugars. But if you’re on a low-carb diet, they’re something to avoid in large quantities.
Some folks claim the antioxidants in superfoods contribute to lower rates of cancer. They also supposedly help the signs of aging. Take these benefits with a grain of salt, though. It’s hard to get enough scientific evidence to support them.
Can You Grow Peanut Butter Fruit in the USA?
In the southern regions of the United States, nurseries sell the plant in the spring. It’s easy to grow at home, in either well-draining soil or indoors in large pots. But for those living in regions with freezing weather, this perennial won’t survive outside.
Young plants need full sun and warm weather to thrive. Mature trees reach upwards of twenty feet in the wild. If you’re growing your own, you can prune it to a more manageable size.
Transplant outdoors in March-May in ideal climates, and you’ll have a crop in June-July. Some will produce another crop in October, but that’s less common. When the fruit is just about ripe, you should harvest it daily. Enjoy it soon, though, because it’s delicate at its peak and quick to rot.
Will the Plant Grow Indoors?
Your local nursery may not have any Bunchosia glandulifera in stock. Don’t worry, though. You can get the seeds online in your usual places. Once they germinate, they’ll grow very well indoors. Use a ten or twelve-inch pot for best results.
Peanut butter fruit plants thrive in warm, moist environments. They require full sun to reach their maximum size. Indoors, their total growth is around three feet. Ensure these little trees get light for twelve or more hours daily for the best results. Water only when the top two inches of soil are dry, or they can get root rot. After a year or two, all your attention will pay off.
Beautiful green leaves look good year-round, and you’ll get a special treat during the fruiting season. Inside, the plant produces fruit from March to October.
Where Can You Buy Peanut Butter Fruit?
The best place to find fresh peanut butter fruit is locally or online. Farmer’s markets in Florida, Hawaii, and parts of California usually have it in season.
However, finding the fruit is much more challenging if you don’t live in one of these regions. Besides growing your own indoors, you can order from a few specialty shops. Most online shops operate on a pre-order basis. You can buy it anytime, but they’ll only ship it out when it’s in season.
One shop sells a pint for almost $100, shipping not included. For that price, you could order your own established plant and have a reliable crop of your own. Expect to pay for the privilege of getting the drupes delivered.
Pro Tip: Like trying unique fruits? Learn more about What Is an Arkansas Black Apple.
If You Can Find This Fruit, Give It a Try
The novelty factor is a major draw for foods like peanut butter fruit. Unless you live in a region where it’s grown, getting your hands on it is pricey. Foodies may find the online price reasonable. But it’s worth the effort if you can take care of your own plant, either outside or indoors.
Part of the joy of travel is new food experiences. When we’re in Florida during peanut butter fruit season, there’s nothing better! Check your local farmer’s market this summer to see if they have this quirky treat.
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