Cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum), also spelled cupuassu, cupuazú, cupu assu, and copoasu, is a tropical rainforest tree related to cacao. Common throughout the Amazon basin, it is widely cultivated in the jungles of Colombia, Bolivia and Peru and in the north of Brazil, with the largest production in Pará, followed by Amazonas, Rondônia and Acre.
Cupuaçu trees usually range from 5 to 15 meters (16 to 50 feet) in height, though some can reach 20 meters (65 feet). They have brown bark and leaves are 25–35 cm (10–14 in) long and 6–10 cm (2–4 in) across, with 9 or 10 pairs of veins. As they mature, the leaves change from pink-tinted to green, and eventually they begin bearing fruit. Cupuaçu fruits are oblong, brown, and fuzzy, 20 cm (8 in) long, 1–2 kg (2–4 lb) in weight, and covered with a thick (4–7 mm), hard exocarp.
The white pulp of the cupuaçu is uniquely fragrant (described as a mix of chocolate and pineapple), and is frequently used in desserts, juices and sweets. The juice tastes primarily like a pear, with a hint of banana and is touted as a possible superfruit flavor. Commercial production of cupuaçu includes food supplements, pills, drinks, smoothies and sweets.
Cupuaçu flavors derive from its phytochemicals, such as tannins, the sulphated flavone glycosides theograndins I and II, and other flavonoids, including catechins, quercetin, kaempferol and isoscutellarein.
Cupuaçu butter is a triglyceride composed of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, giving the butter a low melting point (approximately 30 °C) and texture of a soft solid that melts rapidly upon contact with the skin and may be used in cosmetics or as an excellent white chocolate. Main fatty acid components of cupuaçu butter are stearic acid (38%), oleic acid (38%), palmitic acid (11%) and arachidonic acid (7%).
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