Our story

Once upon a time there was a.....family! As all good stories start, ours is no different ...

One day, a new friend came to dinner at our house in Wellington and I asked him what he and his wife do when they’re not visiting New Zealand. He explained that they also spend time in Brazil. I was mesmerised by his descriptions of Brazil, and I thought clearly this must be paradise. Not having the courage to go myself I sent my husband to check it out for both of us. He called me to tell me how much I would love it, so I packed our bags and headed over to discover this paradise for myself.

To make it brief, we discovered the beautiful city of Bahia and found ourselves loving the bounty of incredible fruit. All day and night we ate acai, banana, pineapple, watermelon and ... cupuacu! Quezaco??? What is it??? The white fresh flesh is quite similar to the cacao but not used in the same way. My French cooking background inspired me to experiment with this fruit in new ways. I caramalised it in a cupuacu tatin. I also made cupuacu ice-cream and added cupuacu to cereals, biscuits and chocolate. The Brazilians loved it!

I spent time talking with the local farmers and showing them my cupuacu creations. One farmer who has 3000 trees was so impressed with how I transformed cupuacu in my cooking, that he decided to supply me with cupuaucu so that I could bring it to the rest of the world.

The fruit

Cupuacu (also spelled Cupuassu or Copoasu), is a fruiting tree that grows in the rain forests of Brazil and it is farmed in very few places in the Amazon river basin and Bahia.

The fruits are relatively large, about melon-sized with a husk-covered coconut-like shell. Inside the cupuacu fruit there are large seeds and creamy white pulp. It is the pulp fruit that is so sought after. As a species, the cupuacu plant (Theobroma grandiflorum) is a sister plant to cacao, and the flavor is often compared to that of chocolate.

The demand for cupuacu has resulted in a limited supply of it. Though agriculturalists believe that it can be farmed in warm, tropical climates in many parts of the world, cupuacu is currently farmed primarily in Brazil. Combine this with the existing local market, and the growing overseas demand for it and there is just not enough cupuacu to go around.

The trees are very similar in size and shape to cacao, growing to heights of anywhere between 15-60 feet (5 to 20 metres), with broad, bright green leaves. A new cupuacu tree will normally grow for three to five years before bearing fruit.

Health Benefits

The population that have been eating and cultivating cupuacu for generations, look to the plant for a variety of treatments. Cupuacu is often used as a pain killer. It purportedly provides antioxidants and other benefits to the digestive system. In addition, the theobromides in cupuacu act like caffeine to provide energy and alertness. Cupuacu is also sold as a lotion or cream because it has rejuvenating effects for skin.

Uses

The taste of cupuacu is often compared to chocolate, banana, melon, and the fruit is served in a wide variety of ways. When the seeds are processed using a method similar to that used to refine cacao seeds into chocolate, you get the base flavor for cupulate. Cupulate is a hot drink that is related to our hot chocolate. From the sweetened pulp of the cupuacu fruit comes a variety of desserts, including candy, jelly, ice cream, and juice. In addition to the sought-after taste, cupuacu is often harvested and sold as a health supplement.