The Araza Rojo (Psidium cattleianum), also locally called Araza Amarillo, is a guava tree or bush that is native to eastern Uruguay and southern Brazil. It grows in the sierras, beaches, and shore sides. It has a thin trunk with smooth bark that is cinnamon in color with beautiful, spotted wood. Its foliage is thick and bright green. It produces many white flowers that have a typically soft aroma. It flowers in October and November, and the optimal harvest time varies from the end of January to the end of March, depending on the plant. The fruit ranges from reddish purple to yellow on the outside, with a whitish pulp and small, hard, inedible seeds. Araza rojo are distinct from other varieties, giving special value to their flavor, aroma, sensory characteristics, color, and, most importantly, their reference to the region. The fruit possesses a sweet and sour taste that is very pleasant. It has high sugar content and is an excellent source of antioxidant compounds (polyphenols) that contribute to the reduction of risks related to cancer and cardiovascular illnesses. The agricultural production of this native fruit is relatively new and has risen from the desire to reproduce the indigenous forests of trees in the area. However, the consequences of changing the Uruguayan geography by the agricultural production model have included the disappearance of the forest trees. Araza rojo is native to the mountains of northern Uruguay, but today is almost nonexistent in these areas. The fruits were eaten by the natives and later by settlers. The consumption then decreased due to the introduction of new fruits. There are currently only eight producers of this fruit. Products made with the araza rojo have been available on the market for two to three years in the form of fresh and frozen pulp and artisanal products such as marmalades and liqueurs. The production of the fresh fruit in 2013 was about 700 kg, of which about 300 kg were for jams and liqueurs and other frozen pulp for gastronomy.
Image: © Laura Rosano