The fruits are very small, about the size of a cherry, anywhere from 1/2 inch to 1 inch (1 to 2 1/2 cm) wide, with thin, glossy skin. They grow either by themselves or in clusters of two or three. The fruit ripens from yellow to orangish-yellow or bright red, though it won’t ripen all at the same time.
Inside, it is quite juicy. Though occasionally it is almost sweet, most of the time it is just a bit too tart to eat out of hand.
There are three small, inedible seeds in each
Though the tree grows up to 20 feet (6 metres) tall, the trunk is narrow and will be no more than 4 inches (10 cm) wide. The tree can be treated like a bush and kept to heights of 6 feet (1 3/4 metres) tall, and it will still produce well.
A deciduous tree, it can be grown from seed, cuttings or by grafting. It is very cold-tender, though: young trees will die below 30 F (-1 C), and even mature trees can only briefly survive temperatures of 28 F (-2 C.)
The glossy, dark green leaves will be up to 3 inches (7 1/2 cm) long and 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) wide. The small hairs on the undersides of the leaves can irritate some people.
The tree, which can produce up to 3 crops of fruit a year, bears fruit on older branches. The fruit is ready to pick 22 to 25 days after its small pink or white blossoms have fallen away.
The fruit will bruise easily, and deteriorates rapidly — it must be used or processed with 3 to 5 days after picking. Even canned whole Acerola, or juice in cans, loses flavour and Vitamin C within 1 month. Unopened cans will maintain their quality somewhat longer if kept in the refrigerator.
Acerola fruit is usually used in cooking for desserts or preserves. When cooked, its colour turns to a reddish-brown. When making a purée from the fruit, strain it to get the inedible seeds out.
Several cultivars of the fruit exist, including: B-17, Dwarf, Florida Sweet, Manoa Sweet, Beaumont, Haley, Hawaiian Queen, Maunawili, Red Jumbo, Rehnborg and Tropical Ruby.
It is grown in Brazil, the Caribbean, Columbia, Surinam and Venezuela, and has been introduced into Southeast Asia and India. In the United States, it is grown in warmer places such as Texas.
Vitamin C can range in unripe Acerola as high as 4,676 mg per 100 g (for comparison, Rose Hips can hit 6,977 mg per 100 g.)
The fruit is used a good deal as natural source of vitamin C to supplement other foods.
The leaves can irritate some people’s skin.
7 to 14 g
avg 1500 mg
1 cup = 100g
1 Acerola, pitted = 5 g
When frozen, the fruits will thaw into a pulp ready to be strained.
Acerola is possibly native to the Yucatan peninsula.
It was being grown in Florida by 1887; the Philippines by 1916.
The name “Acerola” is the Puerto Rican name.