My boyfriend recently came back from Korea and brought me fresh blueberries. This reminded me of the sweet fruit that I used to eat when I was young called aratilis. Obviously, not many city dwellers know about this fruit.
My chilhood memories are laced through having afternoon snacks with these sweet tiny aratilis. Back then, our neighbor used to have an aratilis tree and I would ask my nanny to pick some fruits for me and my sister to eat. I remember how much I would enjoy sucking on its sweet sap.
Aratilis (or aratiles) is a small tree measuring five meters to, at most, 10 meters high with spreading branches. The tree originated in Tropical America and it was introduced during the Spanish Era in the Philippines where it was widely distributed and became thoroughly adapted. Common names include (English) Jamaican cherry, Panama berry, Singapore cherry, Bajelly tree, Strawberry tree; (Spanish) bolaina, yamanaza, cacaniqua, capulín blanco, nigua, niguito, memizo or memiso; (Indonesia) kersen, talok; (Vietnamese) Trứng cá (thực vật); and (Filipino) Aratilis, and Sarisa.
I was so happy when our housekeeper brought me some aratilis fruit yesterday morning. Our housekeeper, who also takes care of my munchkins very well, has a yard full of different plants. Her family organically grows their own veggies and fruits. I was just so delighted when she brought me some of her freshly picked aratilis.
Did you know that this homegrown snack has a lot of health benefits? According to PhilAsian Herbs:
- It has anti-bacterial properties that can be compared to standard antibiotics, according to one study
- It also seems to have a stronger polar antibacterial compound
- It has flavonone contents
- It has anti-inflammatory properties
- It has cytotoxic flavonoids for anti-cancer properties, including the leaves and stems
- The leaf extract has heart protective properties
- The fruit has antioxidants, like flavonoids
Now I wonder why Filipino food manufacturers have not used aratilis as part of their flavours like, let’s say, in icecream or pastries or candies. The tree is easy to grow and the fruit is available year-round.
Anyway, how about you? Have you ever chanced upon an aratilis fruit already?
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