Açaí ain´t açaí: the quality of açaí

Quality of açaí pulp

For centuries local communities are aware of the nutritional and medicinal properties of the açaí berry that grows spontaneously and abundantly in the states of Pará, Amapá, Maranhão and eastern Amazonas. Because the açaí berry spoils very quickly, it is not possible to eat the berries fresh. Therefore, immediately after harvest the açaí berry is deeply frozen. However, before the açaí can be frozen, the pits should be removed. The açaí berry namely consists of almost 90% pit. And this is important to know because the process of removing the flesh of the fruit from the pit will have a big influence on the purity and quality of the açaí. An açaí bowl with a high quality of açaí pulp can contain up to twice as much açaí relative to a bowl with lesser quality.

Dry matter açaí

The edible layer of the açaí is only 1 to 2 mm thick. In order to remove this thin layer, the freshly harvested açaí berries will be the rolled against each other into a funnel. Because the açaí berry is naturally very dry, water is used in this process whereby the açaí berries are changed into pulp. This percentage is expressed in the dry matter of açaí. The higher the dry matter, the less water is used and so the purer is the açaí pulp. It is the dry matter that determines the purity of the frozen açaí pulp. There are three standardized quality levels for açaí pulp:
  • Açaí ´fino´ (C): low to medium dry matter (8% -11%).
  • Açaí ‘medio‘ (B): medium to high dry matter (11% – 14%).
  • Açaí ‘grosso‘ (A): a very high dry matter (> 14%),  also called ‘industrial quality’.

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