In the natural world, things are often not what they seem. Animals disguise themselves as dead leaves, and plants grow threatening pointy barbs to try and look as dangerous as possible, all in the name of getting an edge over the competition. When everything is trying to eat everything else, there’s a lot to be said for trying to look less tasty than you really are. Perhaps that’s why bunchosia argentea looks like an angry, swollen blister, rather than a jar of the world’s favourite nutty spread.
Native to the northern Latin American nations of Venezuela, Columbia, Peru, Bolivia, Guyana and Suriname, this fruit is unlike anything you’re likely to find in the fruit and veg aisle of your local supermarket. Instead of tasting tarte, sweet or sour, bunchosia argentea has the distinction of being the only fruit on earth that has the exact flavour of all-natural peanut butter. Hence, it’s appropriate monniker - the peanut butter fruit.
Cultivated across its southern American range, peanut butter fruit has been a favourite snack of native peoples for centuries. Though it is occasionally incorporated into cooking, the fruit is typically eaten raw, as this is when the flavour is most pronounced. In addition to the distinctive, nutty notes, many who have tried the fruit claim that there are also hints of sweetness, making it taste more like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, rather than pure peanut. The texture is also rich, thick and slightly sticky, adding to the peanut butter impression. Unsurprisingly, almost everyone agrees that it is delicious.
Though it is relatively easy to grow, natural limitations means that it can be incredibly difficult to get hold of peanut butter fruit, according to where you are. The fruit is incredibly delicate, and even minor damage can cause it to ferment and spoil. This means that it is generally considered unsuitable for long distance shipping. Aside from South America, the fruit is currently grown by amateur and professional enthusiasts in Australia, Florida, California, and Hawaii. Should you wish to get a sample for yourself, you’re probably going to have to take a trip.
Though the flavour is certainly a distracting headline, there’s more to peanut butter fruit than tasting delicious. Scientists have recently discovered that it is an rich source of lycopene, a chemical commonly found in tomatoes and other red fruit which is known to exist in high concentrations in prostate tissue. Since prostate cancer is a serious problem in South America - particularly Brazil - there is hope that peanut butter fruit may be able to reduce the risk of contracting the disease.
Persuading people that fruit and veg are actually fascinating and delicious can sometimes be painful. Too many memories of being forced to eat something green against your will prevent many of us from accepting that healthy doesn’t have to mean horrible. If there’s anything that’s likely to change hearts and minds, it’s knowing that there is something out there that tastes just like a famous snack and might be able to cure cancer. Thank heaven for the peanut butter fruit.