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Ciruela fruits are small in size, averaging 2-5 centimeters in diameter, and are elongated, obovoid, to oblong in shape. The fruits are found growing individually or in small groupings, and the smooth, thin, waxy, and shiny skin is green when young, transforming to yellow or bright red when mature depending on the variety. Underneath the skin, the yellow pulp is firm, acidic, and sour when unripe, and sweet, soft, and juicy when ripe. There is also a large white seed tightly adhered in the center of the flesh that is inedible, bitter, and fibrous. Ciruela fruits are delicate and tender and have an astringent, sweet, plum-like flavor.
Ciruela fruits are available year-round, with varying peak seasons in tropical regions around the world.
Ciruelas, botanically classified as Spondias purpurea, are small fruits that grow on deciduous trees that can reach up to fifteen meters in height and are members of the Anacardiaceae or cashew family. Also known as Jocote, Spanish Plum, and Mombin, there are two main varieties of Ciruela fruits, one red and one yellow, and these fruits are widely popular in Central America for their sweet-tart, juicy flavor.
Ciruela fruits contain vitamins A, B, and C, iron, calcium, and phosphorus.
Ciruela fruits are best suited for raw applications as their tart and sweet flavor is showcased when used fresh, out-of-hand. Unripe fruits have a very astringent taste and are coated in lime juice, salt, vinegar, or sugar to help balance flavors. They can also be chopped to make a green sauce. When ripe, Ciruela fruits have a sweeter flavor and are consumed fresh as a snack, similarly to plums and mangoes, discarding the stone. The ripe fruits can also be blended into juices and fruit drinks, boiled in sugar to create a sweet syrup and topped over ice cream, cooked and juiced to make preserves and jellies, or dried and preserved for extended use. In the Philippines, Ciruela fruits are cooked into sinigangs, a sour soup with cooked meats, and are also used in kinilaw, which is a raw dish that consists of seafood, vegetables, and juices. The fruits will keep 3-5 days when stored in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
In Central America, Ciruela fruits are deeply rooted in cultural traditions, commonly sold at roadside stands and in fresh markets, and evokes many fond memories in locals of eating the bite-sized, juicy fruits on hot, humid days during childhood. Many Central Americans also use the tree as a fence to help define property lines and reduce soil erosion. In addition to utilizing the fruit as a food source, Ciruela fruits are used in traditional medicines to help heal sores, treat diarrhea, reduce sore throats and headaches, and to help relieve swollen glands.
Ciruela fruits are native to Central and South America and have been growing wild in tropical regions since ancient times. The fruits were then spread to the Caribbean, the Philippines, and Africa via Spanish explorers and today Ciruela fruits are found at local markets in Brazil, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rice, El Salvador, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Philippines, Florida, Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India.
Recipes that include Ciruela. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Laylita's Recipes||Salsa de Ciruelas|