The South African liqueur Amarula is similar to Bailey’s Irish cream. With butterscotch notes and a sweet and smooth creamy flavor. It is fermented from marula fruit for 3 years before being blended with cream, but then what is a marula fruit?
There is evidence that the marula tree has been growing right across southern Africa since before 10,000 BC. It is a relative of the mango and can grow up to 18 meters in height producing flowers from September to November and fruit from January to March. A multitude of animals feast upon the leaves, gray bark and fruit with warthogs, waterbuck, giraffe and kudu competing with the elephants for a part of the marula meal. It is reputed that when the fruit has fallen and has slightly fermented that the elephants come along and eat them and it “drives them mad”.
The fruit itself is a waxy yellow color when ripe and around the size of a plum. It has a delicious tart and refreshing flavor with a sweet scent and a guava like taste. The amarula fruit is very high in vitamin C with around four times more than an orange. Inside the fruit is a nut which in itself is a prized ingredient. The nut is rich in vitamins and minerals and can be made into tasty stable oil that is used in both cookery and skincare.
Apart from the well known Amarula liqueur, the marula fruit is processed into an aromatic juice drink as well as a scrumptious sticky jam. The indigenous people use all parts of the fruit. The skin can be boiled in water to make a thirst quencher on a hot day but it is also burnt and used as a coffee substitute. Even the bark is used for rope and as a dye.
We may not have the fruit of the marula tree available locally but we do have the Amarula liqueur which can be incorporated into many delectable desserts and cocktails. From cheesecakes to ice creams a hint of South Africa’s much loved ingredient can enhance so many dishes. According to the local population who regularly consume marula products, they have powerful aphrodisiac powers too.
Photos courtesy of flickr - gullig and wikicommons.