Origin of Jamfruit
Jamfruit’s origin is Mexico, Central America, South America, and parts of the Caribbean. Julia Morton’s book, “Fruits of Warm Climates,” explains that the fruit has been naturalized in parts of India, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines for so long, that many assume that the fruit is native to these countries. In Malaysia, the plant is one of the most common trees growing along roadsides.
In Mexico, a few vendors sell jamfruit in local markets. Otherwise, jamfruit lives a quiet life and garners no commercial interest elsewhere.
Availability of Jamfruit in India
Jamfruit grows in the warmer regions of India, including Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The fruit grows well even in the tropical lowland’s poorest soils and is drought-tolerant. Jamfruit does not, however, manage in saline conditions and is thus unsuitable for coastlines.
Where to find Jamfruit in India
Despite the fruit’s agreeable taste, no Indian organization harvests the fruits commercially. Many farmers are reticent to plant jamfruit because of its proclivity to attract fruit bats, a specie that locals consider a nuisance. A few trees grow in city gardens and parking lots, much to the dismay of car owners who park their vehicle below this bird-attracting hangout. The trees bear prolific fruit year-round, but their lifespan is short.
Checking for Ripeness in Jamfruit
Unripe jamfruits are green and hard. When ripe, they become dark red. The darkest fruits offer the sweetest flavor, though they are pleasantly edible when plucked pink with a gold blush. Do not pluck the fruits individually: shake the branch instead, and collect the ripe fallen jamberries.
Taste of Jamfruit
Jamfruit might be smaller than a penny, but the sticky fruit is packed with flavor. Don’t be off put by its musky smell, as the fruit is worth tasting given its juicy, sweet, and sugary taste. Jamfruit resembles caramel, cotton candy, and also possesses a slight musky flavor found in figs. Some find ripe jamfruit too sweet and cloying.
Jamfruit has hundreds of small, yellow seeds that provide no encumbrance to consumption. In fact, like a fig, the seeds add a nice, slightly crunchy consistency.
Nutritional Value of Jamfruit
The nutritional value of 100g of jamfruit as per the book, “Fruits of Warm Climates”:
Health Benefits of Jamfruit
South American and Central American tribes have used the jamfruit’s leaves, fruit and roots for the following medicinal purposes:
--When steeped in hot water, the leaves reduce painful swelling in ulcers and the prostrate. The tea also helps alleviate headaches.
--The flowers are valued for their antispasmodic properties and thus treat diarrhea and other intestinal problems
--Several cultures, such as the Brazilians and Peruvians, infuse flowers into a tea to relieve cold symptoms and abdominal cramps
--Colombians make an infusion of the flowers for use as a tranquilizer
--In the Philippines, locals use parts of the plant to treat toothaches
Scientific studies indicate the following benefits of jamfruit:
--According to a study published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers in Malaysia found the fruit’s extracts reduce pain sensitivity.
--A study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine found that the leaves have antiproliferative properties and high levels of antioxidants.
--As per a study conducted and published in the 2013 edition of Journal of Ethnopharmacology, jamberry plant compounds have antibacterial and cytotoxic activities.
--A 2006 study in the International Journal of Pharmacology reports profound antibacterial activity in jamberry extracts.
--As published in the Journal of Natural Products, the flavonoids in jamberry roots possess anticancer agents.
--A study published in the Journal of Natural Medicines affirms the Peruvian culture’s use of the root as a pain reducer, fever reducer, and anti-inflammatory agent.
How to Open/Cut:
Jamfruit requires no peeling or removal of its hundreds of miniscule seeds, but the fruits might be sticky upon handling. Additionally, the stem must be removed like a cherry’s.
Be sure to wash the fruit thoroughly before consuming: dirt collects near the “cap” of the berry, even more so if the tree is located on busy streets.
Jamfruits will keep at room temperature for a few days, though chilling them naturally extends the shelf life.
Jamfruit Recipe Ideas and Uses:
--Jamfruits go well in breads, cupcakes, muffins and other sweets. The small fruits can get folded into the batter without any chopping, dicing or blending required.
--Fold jamfruit into ice cream batter
--The Cook’s Thesaurus states the jamberry makes an adequate substitute for cherries.
--Jamfruit, as its name would suggest, makes excellently sweet jam resembling plum jam. Expect the fruit to turn green upon heating.
--For an idea on how jamfruit can contribute to a dish’s consistency, its Tamil name is “nei pazham,” which means “ghee fruit.” This is in reference to the fruit’s butter-like texture when crushed.
--Add a handful of the colorful berries to salads for coloring and texture
--Puree the fruit and add to lemonades
--Brazilians make a healthy tea from the leaves
--The book, “Exotic Foods: a Kitchen and Garden Guide,” suggests making a gelatin by preparing a gelatin-based desert, adding lemon and lime juice, and waiting for the mix to cool slightly. Once cooled, fold in chopped bananas and whole jamberries.
Date, fig, strawberry, cherry, lime, lemon, cherry
Herbs, spices, and oil: vanilla, caramel, orange juice, citrus rind, sugar
Forget bird feeders—planting a Muntingia calabura tree is a surefire way to attract beautiful birds. Gardeners love the tree for its ability to grow quickly, fruit prolifically, and survive in poor soils. The trees also bear fruit within two years.
Climbing the trees and eating the fruit is a fond childhood memory for many, especially those in the Philippines.
It appears any country that grows the fruit adds its name and “cherry” as the surname. Thus, its other names include:
Ten pazham (Tamil)
Gasagase hannina mara (Kannada)
Indian cherry tree
Bird’s eye cherry