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Chontaduros are small drupes, averaging 3 to 5 centimeters in diameter and 4 to 6 centimeters in length, and have an ovoid, conical, or heart shape. The fruits grow in large bunches of 80 to 100 drupes and there are many different varieties ranging in color from orange, red, yellow to green. The skin is smooth, thin, slightly wrinkled, firm, and greasy. Underneath the surface, the flesh is starchy, dense, fibrous, and dry, encasing a hard, small brown seed. Chontaduros are unpalatable when raw and must be cooked. After heating, the flesh softens to a consistency similar to a squash or sweet potato and has a neutral, subtly nutty flavor reminiscent of peaches.
Chontaduros are available year-round, with a peak season in the winter through early summer in Central and South America.
Chontaduros, botanically classified as Bactris gasipaes, are colorful drupes that grow on palm trees and belong to the Arecaceae family. It is believed that there are over fifty varieties of Chontaduros growing throughout tropical regions of Central and South America, and the fruits are known by two hundred regional names, including Peach Palm fruit, Pejibaye, Pupunha, Acana, and Pifa. Chontaduros have been an important food source for the peoples of the Amazonian jungles for over two thousand years, and in the modern-day, the fruits are widely sold through local street vendors as an energy-boosting, nutritional snack. Chontaduros are highly valued for their neutral flavor, used in both sweet and savory culinary applications, and many cultures within South America, especially in Colombia, believe the fruit has natural aphrodisiac properties.
Chontaduros are a good source of fiber, which can help stimulate digestion and provide vitamins A, C, and E, which act as antioxidants in the body to protect the immune system against external environmental aggressors. The fruits also contain magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, and calcium.
Chontaduros must be cooked as their flesh is considered too firm and unpalatable when raw. The fleshy fruits are boiled in saltwater for thirty minutes to five hours, depending on the method of cooking, and once prepared, the skin is peeled, and the seed is removed. The seed is also edible when cooked and has a flavor reminiscent of coconut. Chontaduros are commonly sold through street vendors boiled and are coated in salt, condensed milk, vinegar, lemon juice, or honey as an additional flavoring. The cooked fruits are also traditionally served with coffee. In addition to consuming as a stand-alone meal or snack, boiled Chontaduros can be pureed into sauces, soups, and stews, fried into chips, cooked into jellies and jams, pickled for extended use, or roasted and served with meats. The flesh can also be ground and processed into a flour that is used for bread, tortillas, pastries, and sauces. In Colombia, Chontaduros are a popular flavoring used in sauces poured over fish, other seafood, and pasta dishes. Chontaduros pairs well with mayonnaise, sour cream, red wine, vanilla, coconut milk, sugar, meats such as poultry, beef, and pork, seafood, sweet peppers, onions, garlic, ginger, celery, and tomatoes. The fresh fruits will keep 3-7 days when stored in a cool and dry place, such as the refrigerator.
In the region of Putumayo, Colombia, the Fiesta del Chontaduro is an annual celebration of the colorful, fleshy fruits. During the festivities, many different varieties of Chontaduros are displayed in large piles, and groups of indigenous peoples perform traditional dances that honor fertility and the fruit. Chontaduros are highly regarded within Colombian culture, and throughout history, songs, paintings, and stories have been dedicated to the nutritionally dense fruit. The Fiesta del Chontaduro also highlights the popularity of the fruit by hosting educational talks, craft shows, a parade, and even a pageant to select the next National Queen of The Chontaduro. In addition to live entertainment, many vendors sell food and drinks that use Chontaduros as the star ingredient.
Chontaduros are native to tropical forests throughout Central and South America and have been growing wild since ancient times. There are many different wild and domesticated varieties of the fruit, and while the exact date of cultivation is unknown, the fruits are widely sold at local markets across the neotropics. Today Chontaduros are grown commercially and are highly exported from Costa Rica and Brazil to other regions of the world, including Europe and Asia. The fruits are also found on a local level in fresh markets throughout Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Panama, and Costa Rica.
Recipes that include Chontaduro. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Vivir En El Poblado||Ceviche Chontaduro|