Wednesday, April 12, 2017
SURINAM CHERRY (Eugenia uniflora)
In the front windy and dry corner of the garden, where the soil is mostly coral sand, I have a small waist high Surinam Cherry shrub that I planted a few years ago. I must admit that I did not have big expectations for it there. It was mainly a shrub to help fill in the corner and, if I was lucky, I would get a few fruit. A week ago, one of my grand-daughters took me over to the corner to look at something. Guess what! The whole small tree was covered with small, pale green jewels.
A month or so back we had a big rain storm and it must have sent the Surinam Cherry into full reproduction mode. I may have thrown a bit of fertilizer around too at about the same time. The Cherry tree would have become covered in lots of small white flowers and now here is the fruit just starting to ripen up.
Every morning I go pick the newly ripening fruit before the birds and wild chickens get them and leave the fruit on the kitchen counter to ripen for the rest of the day. I will have a few to eat fresh but mostly I am collecting them in the fridge until I have a pot full to cook up. It is just a matter of bringing the fruit and some sugar to the boil and then leaving it to simmer for a few minutes....just like making apple sauce. You also need to remove the cherry pits after the cooking. The resulting sweet/sour sauce is fabulous over vanilla ice cream. I imagine some inventive person could also make a relish or chutney out of it that would go well with meat. Some of the fresh fruit I will freeze for future smoothies.... after removing the seeds. The beautiful jewel like fruit look beautiful as a decorative topping on desserts. I have also seen the ruby red fruit used in breathtakingly beautiful flower arrangements.
As you can guess from its name, Surinam Cherry is native to the NE coast of South America. It is a tough evergreen shrub that can grow up to 10 feet tall. The small leaves have a spicy scent and coppery colored new growth. Its growth habits make it good for hedges. The Surinam Cherry tends to flush into flower after heavy spring and fall rains. The 1" round and ribbed fruit are usually dark red when ripe but there is a black variety. The fruit is on the sour side but kids always love to pick and eat the cherries out in the garden. The fruit fly can bother the fruit but so far I have not had any problem with them. Maybe picking the fruit before fully ripe has helped prevent this. Surinam Cherry is easy to grow from seed although the resulting little tree is a slow grower.