I’ve eaten some strange fruits over the years–sour, gritty nance; agua de manzana that tastes like a rose; the astringent cashew fruit… Few have been so delightful as Ugniberry. Ugni molinae, sometimes called New Zealand cranberry here, is native to South America where it flavours alcohol, is made into jam, and is eaten fresh.
I’ve heard it described as “rapidly addictive”, and I have to agree. Once you’ve eaten one, it’s hard to stop.
The fruit is blueberry-shaped and sized, apple-coloured, and flavoured like fruit salad. The flavour has hints of juniper, raspberry, blueberry, and strawberry. It’s a lingering flavour, changing and maturing, the juniper becoming more pronounced after you’ve swallowed.
The texture takes some getting used to–the skin is tough, with stiff little sepals, and the fruit is seedy. But by the time you’ve eaten three of the things, the odd texture is merely part of the experience.
My husband planted ugniberry a few years ago, and this year we are getting our first sizeable crop. I keep meaning to bake with them, because I think they’d make an incredible muffin, but they never last long enough…