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Rubiaceae, Borojoa patinoi, Borojo

June 25, 2009

Borojo is perhaps one of the most incredible underutilized tropical crops I’m aware of. This species is little known and rarely cultivated outside of the Pacific side of Colombia and areas of the Darien province of Panama.

Borojo is a tree, growing up to around five meters in height. The leaves are large (up to 30 cm long) and evergreen. The fruit is round, about 11 cm in diameter, and brown in color. Green fruit are harvested and essentially left to ferment slightly in their own skin. Once sufficiently fermented the skin is light brown and soft to the touch. Inside is a brown stick pulp, with many embedded seeds.

After removing the seeds I blend the pulp with water and honey, or melaza de cana. The resulting beverage is best consumed cold.

Borojo is highly nutritious. The acidic fruit pulp contains 25% sugar, and is as high in phosphorous as tamarind (160 mg per 100 g); it is rich in iron (1.5 mg), calcium (25 mg), vitamin B1 (0.3 mg) B2 (0.12 mg), and exceptionally high in niacin (2.3 mg).

The incredibly high nutritional value of this fruit warrants a more widespread interest, cultivation and consumption.

The relatively small trees are propagated from seed and grow best in a hot, humid climate, planted in light understory shade below 200 m above sea level.

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