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Almirajo is a medium to large fruit, averaging 20 to 25 centimeters in length and 8 to 10 centimeters in diameter, and has an oval to ovoid shape with curved to tapered ends. The fruit's surface is semi-smooth with a leathery consistency and ripens to bright yellow, developing golden orange-yellow, sometimes brown hues with age. Underneath the thick skin, the flesh ranges in color from cream to yellow and exhibits soft, dense flesh with a mealy, powdery, and sticky, custard-like texture. The flesh also contains several round to oblong seeds that are often aligned in rows, coated in cotton-like filaments. Almirajo emits a honeyed, bitter-sweet fragrance when cut open and bears a mild, sweet, and fruity flavor.
Almirajo is available year-round in Colombia.
Almirajo, botanically classified as Patinoa almirajo, is a rare Colombian fruit belonging to the Malvaceae family. The large fruits grow on tropical trees reaching 20 meters in height and are primarily consumed fresh, favored for their sweet flavor and nutritional content. Almirajo is challenging to find outside of its native region of Choco, and even within the Chocoana jungle, the fruits are declining in cultivation. Despite their slow disappearance, Almirajo is still valued among the Afro-Colombian populations of Choco and is an exotic, local fruit grown in home gardens and harvested from wild trees.
Almirajo is an excellent source of vitamin A, a nutrient that supports the daily functioning of vital organs such as the kidneys, heart, and lungs and helps to improve skin complexion. Vitamin A also assists in strengthening bone development, boosts the immune system, and works to slow eyesight degeneration.
Almirajo has a sweet and soft flesh best suited for fresh applications. The fruits are primarily consumed straight, out-of-hand, discarding the skin and seeds. The flesh can be scooped with a spoon, blended into smoothies and juices, or incorporated into ice creams and sorbets. In Colombia, Almirajo is also mixed into creamy spreads and dips, or it is combined into desserts such as tiramisu, creams, and custards. Almirajo pairs well with spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves, vanilla, chocolate, coconut milk, sugar, pineapples, bananas, and borojo. Whole fruits can be left on the counter to mature and immediately consumed when ripe for the best quality and flavor.
Almirajo is found within a rich ecosystem in the department of Choco, Colombia. Choco is a coastal region where multiple rivers meet the ocean, and the land is filled with humid, tropical forests brimming with diversity. The region is also inhabited by a large Afro-Colombian population, creating unique gastronomy filled with exotic, land and sea flavor combinations. Afro-Colombians traditionally consumed Almirajo for its high vitamin A content. The fruits were regarded as a delicacy and were believed to help counteract skin damage caused by working long hours in the sun. The fruits were also believed to protect against skin-related diseases and were used as a method of age prevention, easily transported with workers into forests due to the fruit’s thick skin. Almirajo is still consumed on a small-scale in the modern-day and is mostly blended into sorbete de Almirajo, a tropical drink filled with warm spices and vanilla, sweetened by Almirajo.
Almirajo is native to the lowland rainforests of the Chocoana jungle in the Choco department of Colombia, a region along the northwest coastline of the Pacific Ocean. Since ancient times, the fruits have been growing wild and were cultivated by indigenous populations for their nutritional content and sweet flavor. Today Almirajo has remained localized to Choco and is still harvested from wild trees and a few cultivated plants near the towns of Nuqui and Quibdo for sale at fresh markets. The fruits are considered rare outside of Choco. Almirajo is also being propagated by an exotic gardener in Hawaii.
Recipes that include Almirajo. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Cocina 33||Almirajo Sorbet|