The fruits of the Incas: The empire of the Incas during its peak contributed to the spread and adaptation of the new fruits between exotic and common throughout all the territories of South America. This culture of the Quechuas greatly loved the fruits that were produced in the internal valleys, the coast and the jungles. It was an essential part of their diet, so the inhabitants of the highlands where only potatoes and corn were produced, made the exchange for these delicacies of nature in the typical regional markets, there they practiced exchanges and barter for cucumbers. cherimoyas, lucmas, avocados, etc.
The history of Peru is the maximum degree of use of natural resources of its inhabitants since the arrival of the first settlers of the Asian continent, perhaps they brought some products from southern areas such as Mexico and Central America, and once established in these territories they undertake a great project of cultivation and improvement of fruits that to this day we can still enjoy its exquisite flavor.
In the empire of the Incas, many of the fruits were supplied only seasonally and certain products such as nuts were the most requested by the noble classes.
The Zapote is a fruit that is found all over the Amazon River. Probably in the upper basin of the Amazon River, in the northwestern part of the Amazon, although it is also found wild in other tropical areas of northern South America. In the Peruvian Amazon, “zapotales” abound, forests with concentrations of up to 20 trees per ha.
Tall tree that reaches 30 m when it is cultivated or is isolated, but in the forests it reaches 40 m in height. Straight trunk 50 to 90 cm in diameter with several fins or table roots (sapopems), with whorled branches. Simple, alternate leaves, petiole 20 to 25 cm long, subcoriaceous leaf blade, long, cordate, obtuse apex, glabrous, palminervated, 30 to 40 cm long in young individuals or in sterile branches, but much smaller in floriferous branches. . Hermaphroditic flowers, fasciculated in number from three to six, yellow or pinkish white.
Globose or ovoid fruit that appears solitary or in groups on the old branches, supported by a very strong peduncle, 7 to 15 cm long by 5 to 15 cm in diameter, greenish brown, powdery, with a persistent calyx of nipple Thick, coriaceous exocarp or shell, orange pulp, abundant, juicy, somewhat fibrous, with up to five wedge-shaped seeds of 2 to 4 cm each. , although fruits reaching up to 1,400 g have been observed; the average is around 400 g per fruit.
It is a fruit native to Peru, this plant also grows in tropical areas; although it adapts well to different climates. The fruit contains 16 different vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorous and iron. This plant has been cultivated by Peruvians since pre-Hispanic times, it is native to Peru, it can be grown in almost any climate, preferably dry, it also adapts to altitudes from sea level to 1,500 m above sea level. n. m.
Guava is an oval fruit with a thin, brittle, yellow skin, similar to a tennis ball. Its pulp is red, soft and creamy and has a multitude of edible seeds inside. It has a very characteristic and pleasant aroma and its flavor is very sweet.
Guava is part of what is called a superfruit, due to its many nutritional benefits. It provides a large amount of protein, fiber and water, making it a moisturizing and refreshing food. It is also a fruit rich in vitamins C, A and B and has antioxidant properties.
Guava is a tropical fruit very similar to tomato (especially inside), both in its appearance and for some of its nutritional characteristics. Its pulp is reddish-pink thanks to the presence of lycopene, a micronutrient “very interesting to create a good barrier against external agents, lycopene is a” great antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer “.
It contains a high proportion of water and few carbohydrates, making it a recommended fruit for people who need to lose or maintain weight. But the strong point of guava is its vitamin C content: five times more than orange.
This fruit originates in the Peruvian jungle, it is cultivated and in the wild in Loreto, Madre de Dios and Ucayali, it is also found in the jungle of Brazil and Guyana.
The charicuelo is a tree from 10 to 25 meters high, the tree expels a thick yellowish latex, the fruit is shaped like a balloon, it is edible and can be consumed in its natural state. According to studies, the pulp of the fruit contains so much magnesium that it covers up to 50% of the recommended daily dose (350 mg for men, 280 mg for women), it also has concentrations of iron, copper and zinc.
Its fruit is very similar to lemon and is also a citrus, although a little sweeter, it measures 4 to 9 cm long and 4.0 cm to 6.0 cm in diameter, it is ovoid in shape and its color is yellow, it is edible and can be consumed in its natural state or can be used for the preparation of jams, jellies and desserts.
The naranjilla is a plant that grows in the Andes of Peru and Ecuador between 800 and 1,400 meters above sea level, it is a fruit with a high content of vitamin A, C, B1 and B2. Solanum quitoense is a subtropical perennial plant from northwestern South America. Its fruit is known as naranjilla in Ecuador. In Peru it is an uncommon fruit, but it can be found in the high jungle, the Andes in the north of the country with the name of naranjilla or quito quito.
It has large leaves, velvety, covered with short purple hairs, 30 to 45 cm long. They are oblong-oval in shape, with wavy edges and a petiole up to 15 cm long, with obtuse or acute insertion angles, to capture the light that passes through the forest.
Under shade it flowers and bears fruit almost continuously, keeping a few fruits, with prolonged productive periods. Planting under shade is convenient for the preservation of the forest. Planted in full sun, the plants flower and bear fruit abundantly, but the productive period is reduced with a harvest of fruits that last around 12 months.
The fruit, similar to tomato, is ovoid, 4 to 6 cm in diameter, with yellow, orange or brown skin, covered with small and fine thorns or “hairs”. Internally, it is divided into four compartments separated by membranous partitions, filled with greenish or yellowish flesh and numerous small, whitish seeds.
The Ubus is native to Central America and northern South America. Some botanists consider that another area of origin could have been the Amazon basin, due to the abundance of wild plants found in the forests of the Amazon lowlands. It is a deciduous tree, from the Anacardiaceae family, with an average height of about 25 m, but which can reach up to 35 m.
The fruits appear as infructescences that hang up to 30 cm in diameter, presenting ovoid drupes of about 3 cm to 4 cm by 1.5 cm long, by 2 cm wide, small, green or dull orange-yellow in color, which come together in groups of up to 20 units.
It is used as an antiseptic, this is possible when the extract of one of the leaves of the tree is taken and placed on the wound. It is a strong healing, the way it is done is by boiling the bark, and after the water is at room temperature it is placed on the open wound. You can eat the fruit of the tree to combat anemia, for vomiting you can simply eat the shell. With powder taken from the bark, hemorrhages can be treated.
It is considered to be native to Mesoamerica, specifically from southern Mexico. The plant is widely distributed throughout tropical America, from Mexico to Brazil and Peru. The denomination plum or plum tree should not be confused with (Prunus domestica L), the European plum tree, of the Rosaceae family. The fruit is a drupe and its seeds, which are not edible, occupy a large part of the fruit, so the edible pulp, with a delicate and characteristic bittersweet taste, is relatively scarce, hence the popular name. It usually develops perfectly in poor soils. Its delicate fruits are eaten green or ripe, as well as its leaves, which have an acid taste and can be added to salads.
This tree grows in quite diverse areas, from 10 to 2,000 meters above sea level. In fact, it is already common to see it also in areas of the Caribbean and Florida. They are typical of low-elevation tropical deciduous forests, although they also grow in medium and high elevations. They can even be found in natural savannahs in Colombia and northern Brazil.
The fruit, which comes alone or in groups of 2 to 3, is a drupe, oblong, round or ovoid, 3 cm long by 1.5 cm wide, weighing 12 to 36 g, with a smooth epicarp. or semi-smooth, shiny, thin, green in color which, when ripe, turns purplish-red or yellow. The mesocarp or pulp is yellow, juicy, 5 to 7 mm thick, with a pleasant, bittersweet flavor, with a thick and fibrous endocarp, which contains 1 to 5 small, flattened seeds, about 12 mm long. This fruit has many essential vitamins and minerals for the human diet.
It is a perennial shrub native to the Andean region of Peru and spread throughout South America, where it has been cultivated for thousands of years for its sweet fruit. Although there are several varieties, this berry is generally oval, similar to a papaya, about 10 to 15 cm long, golden yellow with purple veins when ripe. It is very refreshing due to its high water content (92%), being similar in flavor and aroma to melon, but both plants are not related to each other. It has high percentages of vitamin C, A and carbohydrates.
Its consumption is generally carried out directly as fresh fruit, but it can also be in salads on some occasions, in juices or more elaborate desserts.
Archaeologically, no traces are found because the pulp is soft and difficult to preserve, but it is often found in various huacos of the pre-Columbian Moche, Chimú and Paracas cultures.
Although the origin of the passion fruit remains in question, it is believed that this fruit comes from the mountainous areas of the Andes, specifically from countries such as Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela. It is believed that this fruit was domesticated in pre-Inca times. The oldest vestige in Peru dates back to 1,200 BC. and was found on the shore. Remains of this fruit have also been found in Ecuador and Colombia.
The granadilla flowers measure 6 to 9 cm in diameter, have white and yellowish sepals and petals and the crown with alternating purple and white bands. The fruit, also known as passion fruit, is an ovoid or elliptical capsule that measures 6 to 12 cm long. Its shell is hard, yellow-orange with white dots and inside it the flat, elliptical, black seeds are stored, surrounded by a transparent and gelatinous aril that constitutes the edible part.
In 1553, the chronicler Cieza de León made the first written record of the use of a Passiflora plant when he was touring the city of Cali. In this record he mentions: “The banks (Cali River) are well populated with the fruits that are in the same land, among which there is a very tasty and fragrant one that they name granadillas.”
Initially the granadilla was used as food, however, in later years they were discovered and began to be used for medicinal purposes. The granadilla has flavonoids that favor the treatment of insomnia and anxiety, it also has phytopathogenic effects and contains vitamins A, B2, B3, B6, B9, C, E and K and also minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus , potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc. Among its vitamins, its contribution of vitamin C stands out, which is present at 50% and is very beneficial for the body, especially in the case of pregnant women and children.
Apparently the origin of the avocado is found in the highlands of southern Mexico and northern Guatemala. The oldest evidence of avocado consumption dates from 8,000 to 7,000 BC. Already in pre-Columbian times it was cultivated in extensive regions of Peru, as Garcilaso de la Vega mentions in his “Real Comments of the Incas”, written in 1605, where he comments “Tupac Inca Yupanqui marched to the province of Cari and on the way he conquered another (province) called Avocado, from where they brought to the warm valley near Cuzco this delicious fruit called Avocado”.
Avocado has a high content of unsaturated fat (linolenic acid and linoleic acid), as well as a high concentration of vitamin E, the most important antioxidant in the membranes of human cells and whose consumption is related to a lower risk of contracting diseases. cardiovascular. and other degenerative diseases such as cancer.
It is a suitable fruit for people suffering from high cholesterol and diabetes. It is a source of potassium (containing 60% more of this mineral than a banana) and also provides magnesium. It also contains vitamin C, which also acts against free radicals, and B vitamins, vitamin A and folic acid. Its high content of soluble fiber helps regulate intestinal transit and reduce the absorption of cholesterol and sugar in the body, lowering their blood levels.
It is the Cocoa Chuncho, originally from the province of La Convención and the district of Echarate, yes; without fear of being wrong. To confirm this, it is only necessary to ask any old Matsiguenga native if he has ever found cocoa trees in the high, low or middle Urubamba jungle, and the assertion will be convincing. In addition, the name “Chuncho” is a simple confirmation of what is sustained, because the natives of the conventional Amazon are also called “Chunchos”.
Today, the whole world is looking for cocoa of exceptional quality; for its aroma, for its texture and for other characteristics that make it irresistible to the most demanding palates, like a blessing from the goddess nature, this cocoa is in our valley, sometimes ignored by the producers themselves or by the marketers; but the truth prevails today. Our Chuncho cocoa is considered the finest cocoa in the world, and transformed it is listed as an excellent chocolate, capable of satisfying the most demanding consumers.
Some time later, with the conquest of the Inca Empire, new expeditions arrived in the Amazon, which identified other varieties of cocoa. Having some characteristics different from those originally found, these new varieties were called “foreign cocoa”, considering that the first ones found were the “creole cocoa”. After several centuries, scientific research has shown that the origin of cocoa is Amazonian, but its domestication was outstanding in Mesoamerica.
The lúcumo is a tree of the Sapotaceae family, native to the Andean valleys of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile, from which the fruit of the lucuma comes, which is cultivated mainly for its varied gastronomic uses. Its fruit, the lucuma, is a spherical berry with a thin green or tan-yellow skin, depending on its degree of ripeness, which measures up to 15 cm long in the cultivars, and weighs about 200 grams. The pulp is yellow-orange, somewhat dry, starchy and very sweet in flavor and aroma. It contains two to five oval and flattened seeds, dark brown in color, with a whitish phylum on one side.
According to archaeological research, lucuma was domesticated in the inter-Andean valleys of pre-Inca peoples in countries such as Ecuador, Peru and Chile, where its consumption and the use of the tree’s wood are extensively documented in the pictorial representations of the native peoples. The oldest evidence of the use of lucuma dates back to seeds obtained from complex II (between 8600 BC to 5600 BC) from the Guitarrero cave in the Callejón de Huaylas in Ancash, Peru. In addition, representations of lucuma have been found in ceramics from the Moche culture, as well as in the tombs of their rulers and nobility.
Lucuma has a high content of nutrients, fiber and antioxidants, including beta-carotene, essential for cell health, and responsible for stimulating the repair of cell damage and the growth of new cells, including skin cells. It also provides vitamin B3, which promotes muscle development and is recommended for those who do not eat much meat; as well as minerals of great value such as potassium that helps cardiovascular health and calcium, phosphorus and iron that are essential to prevent anemia, malnutrition and to strengthen the immune system.
One of its most appreciated properties is that it has a very low glycemic index, which favors the stabilization of sugar and insulin in the blood, which is why it is recommended for people with diabetes and is used as a natural sweetener.
The camu camu is a bush native to the Peruvian Amazon, which grows wild on the banks of rivers and in the floodplains of the Amazon. Mainly along the Ucayali and Amazon rivers and their tributaries, in the sector located between the towns of Pucallpa on the Ucayali and Pebas rivers in the Amazon.
Camu camu is known to have been first used by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon region as a source of food and herbal medicine for hundreds of years before the world knew of it. Camu camu fruits contain an incredible concentration of vitamin C, its greatest nutritional contribution. Until recently, it was believed that it has at least 16 times more than orange pulp, but in a recent exploration of the Amazon, specimens were discovered that have between 3,000 and 6,000 mg of ascorbic acid per 100 g of pulp, that is, between 57 and 114 times more concentration than orange. Vitamin C collaborates in the formation of bones, teeth, skin, cartilage, ligaments and collagen, a protein involved in the development of tendons and blood vessels.
This Amazonian fruit also provides various kinds of amino acids such as serine, valine and leucine, as well as other nutrients such as sodium, potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, manganese and copper. It is an important source of nutritional antioxidants, β-carotene and phenolic compounds such as ellagitannins, ellagic acid, quercetin glycosides, syringic acid and myricetin.
Likewise, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and is also a great ally against cardiovascular diseases and for people suffering from obesity. Research has shown its positive effect for the treatment of the initial stages of diabetes, cancer prevention, in addition to offering other benefits such as improving migraines, headaches, diabetes, arthritis, severe flu and colds.
The pale carob tree is native to northern Peru, Colombia and Ecuador but has become acclimatized in other regions of America. It is a tree that grows wild on the north coast of Peru up to 1,500 meters above sea level. Although, in areas where there are droughts and the land is infertile, it develops as a bush. In the 19th century, the famous researcher Antonio Raymondi discovered in Peru pre-Columbian idols carved in wood that represented the “carob tree”, which is why it is believed that this plant was already known and used since pre-Hispanic times.
The fruits of this plant, also known as carob trees, are pods with sweet and fleshy pulp, measuring between 10 and 30 cm long, 1 to 1.5 cm wide and 5 to 9 mm thick. Inside they contain 20 to 30 seeds (per pod) of a grayish or brown color, with an ovoid and flattened shape, and present in one number per pod.
The carob tree, or Prosopis pallida, is a tree of South American origin that has provided, since ancient times, multiple benefits to the Peruvian inhabitant, thanks to its qualities as food and raw material for the development of various economic-productive activities. Its best known product is algarrobina. The carob is a legume with a high nutritional content, it is rich in fiber, glucose, fructose and sucrose. In addition, it has carbohydrates, minerals such as potassium, iron, zinc, iodine, selenium and calcium, and in lower concentrations, macrominerals such as phosphorus and magnesium. It also provides a high content of B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, and B9), C and E, as well as important fatty acids.
Its nutrients balance the pH of the blood and, being an energetic food, it benefits the proper functioning of the immune system to protect the body and mitigate the impact of various diseases. Likewise, it can be considered a good source of amino acids, since it contains the seven essential types (threonine, methionine, valine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine and lysine) in concentrations that meet WHO standards.
The custard apple is considered to be native to Peru and Ecuador, in areas between 1,500 and 2,200 meters above sea level, where it is known that it was already cultivated since 200 AD. C. This fruit was already cultivated in the times of the Incas and the Moche tribe frequently represented it in their ceramics.
The custard apple tree needs dry climates where it does not rain much and temperatures that do not present extremes of heat or cold. When it grows in hot land, it rarely fruits and the fruits are of inferior quality. Likewise, below 14 °C, the quality of the fruit decreases markedly, making it difficult to obtain edible fruits. Nor does it thrive better in loamy-sandy soils, although it can grow optimally in others, as long as they are sufficiently fertile and well drained.
Contains small amounts of vitamins such as B1 and B2, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and iron; It is also rich in potassium, and vitamin B6 and C. The latter participates in the synthesis of collagen, bones and teeth. The custard apple has a high vitamin value of group B (no fresh fruit has such a high content of vitamins B1, B2 and B6), it is also a source of vitamin C and small amounts of vitamin A. It also stands out for its contribution in carbohydrates (20% of its weight), mainly simple sugars such as fructose and glucose (around 11%) and sucrose (around 9%). It provides a high contribution of phosphoric acid and minerals such as calcium (30 mg per 100 g of edible portion), potassium (264 mg per 100 g of edible portion) and iron (0.4 mg per 100 g of edible portion).
}Its fiber content (1.9 g per 100 g of edible portion) helps improve intestinal transit and benefits multiple diseases and disorders and its protein content is 2%, higher than that of many other fruits.
The sauco, whose scientific name is Sambucus peruviana, is native to Peru and surrounding regions. The elderberry is a small tree that reaches a height of approximately 10 meters. It grows at altitudes ranging from 20 to more than 3,000 meters above sea level, in a variety of habitats including montane cloud forest, pine forest, oak forest, and tropical evergreen forest.
The inflorescence is highly branched and produces about 200 fragrant white flowers 4-8 mm in diameter. This species flowers almost all year round but especially during spring and winter. The fruit is spherical with a diameter of 5 mm, fleshy and purple or black in color and contains between 3 and 5 seeds. The flowers and fruits are edible. From the flower you can enjoy a relaxing tea that in excess has a diuretic effect. It is an ideal tree to attract bees that visit its flowers, they produce a very tasty honey. In several regions of the country the fruits are used to make a rich wine.
The elderberry has many registered medicinal uses, some of which include treating fever and cough, bronchitis, hoarseness, asthma, cold or flu, and tonsillitis. It has applications in the treatment of digestive disorders, stomach and liver pain. It is also used to treat skin problems such as dandruff, rashes, hair loss, measles, scabies, and burns.
Although there is controversy as to whether the origin is Peruvian or Mexican, the truth is that the prickly pear was present for 10,000 years in Peru, it is a fruit with many medicinal and industrial properties. The prickly pear or nopal is a tropical plant of the cactus family. The prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) or nopal, is a fruit that has been cultivated since ancient times in our country, with traces of it found in textiles from the Huari, Tiahuanaco, Chimú and Inca cultures. Research has proven the use of cochineal (Dactylopius coccus Costa), a fungus that grows on this plant and produces carmine, a natural pigment for dyeing textiles, reaching the presence of cochineal in 47 samples of 52 textiles. examined, the prickly pear was cultivated and consumed by the ancient inhabitants of Peru more than 2,000 years ago.
There are several types of prickly pears: red, orange and green. All can be consumed whole, in juices or in the preparation of any gastronomic dish. Currently, Peru is the largest producer of this fruit that provides great benefits to our health, which is why the WHO recommends its consumption. The prickly pear has also been used as a medicine in pre-Columbian antiquity. The ancient Incas used it to heal and heal wounds, and also drank its juice to lower fever, among many other remedies. Thanks to its antioxidant and detoxifying properties, nopal helps us neutralize free radicals, which cause cell aging, and reduce and eliminate toxic substances.
The composition of this fruit makes it a perfect ally to combat bad cholesterol. The seeds that this fruit contains help us reduce constipation problems. It is also used to combat gastritis, heartburn and gastric ulcer. It contains an alkaloid called Cantina, which helps reduce heart problems.
The prickly pear contains 80% water, which favors our body to lose those extra kilos. Due to its high fiber content, it reduces appetite. The feeling of fullness it provides also reduces overall food intake. By consuming this fruit we help our kidneys, because we improve our urine circulation and regulate our digestion.
The Pacay is an Andean fruit located basically in South America, it is a very sweet fruit, very low in calories and very delicious, it is also known by the names of pacae, guaba, adapted to the conditions of tropical and subtropical climates, and we can generally find it on the limits of some roads and rivers. Pacay is considered a sweet heritage of the Incas, since it has existed since Inca times, standing out for its flavors and great nutritional value, the fruits are cylindrical or flattened indehiscent pods that contain large seeds with white, succulent and sugary arils, which They are the edible part.
The Pacay is low in calories because it provides few carbohydrates, fats and proteins, suitable for losing weight; rich in vitamins, A, B and C. helping the immune system; helps reduce cholesterol levels, due to its antioxidant properties and the fiber it contains helps control and reduce high cholesterol levels in the body; Contributes to the balance of sugar levels, pacay is a great source of protein and fiber, which help maintain adequate blood sugar levels; Strengthens the immune system, thanks to its high content of antioxidants and vitamin A. It contributes to increasing the body’s immunity, preventing colds or viral diseases.
It helps prevent heart problems, as it contains antioxidant properties, prevents damage caused by free radicals, preventing heart attacks, optimizing heart health; the pacay is a natural painkiller, especially the leaves used as an infusion, it acts as a calming agent for the nerves and relieves headaches; As you can see, the pacay is a jewel still somewhat hidden among the fruits that the Andean region gives us, so it is good to know many of its qualities and not hesitate to consume it regularly.
The native people of South and Central America grew and enjoyed pineapples for hundreds of years before the Europeans came along. When they got there, they knew they had a very special delicacy to take home. The pineapple plant is as peculiar as its fruit, since it only produces three pineapples on average throughout its life, the first being (usually) the largest. Fortunately, several cuttings can be taken from a main stem to increase its production.
Fresh pineapple is rich in vitamins, mainly vitamin C (12 mg/100 g). It also contains vitamins A, B1 and folic acid, but in lower percentages than vitamin C. Regarding the mineral content, it is worth noting its richness in potassium, and at a distance, in magnesium and iron.
Pineapple has an enzyme, bromelain, found in the stem and in the fruit, which facilitates digestion. Specifically, it has the virtue of breaking down proteins and converting them into amino acids, which favors the digestive process.
The inclusion of pineapple in first courses is especially beneficial because it stimulates the production of gastric juices. It is especially indicated to digest proteins. Pineapple is an excellent remedy for the liver and its regular consumption is known to increase circulation in this vital organ. It interferes with the development of malignant cells (reducing the risk of metastasis of some types of cancer) and seems to enhance the effects of chemotherapy. Another health benefit of pineapple is that it helps cleanse and heal skin ulcers, and improve the healing of burns.
Aguaymanto is a native fruit of Peru, native to the Andes. The Quechua language, it was known as “Topotopo” and in Aymara as “Uchua” and “Cuchuva”. This small fruit was one of the favorite foods of the Inca nobility, it was grown in the Sacred Valley of Cusco and was even revered by the Andean people.
Aguaymanto is considered one of the best health foods produced in Peru. It is within the group of so-called superfruits, for having nutritional qualities that strengthen the human body. It is orange in color, small in size and has high levels of vitamins A, B and C, proteins and phosphorus, which make it a good food option, especially for the little ones in the house, who are in the process of development. .
Consuming this superfruit also helps you treat asthma, sinusitis, and various respiratory allergies. In addition, it has an antioxidant that allows you to slow down aging, quickly heal wounds, improve the immune system, increase the production of red blood cells and correct the performance of cardiovascular functions.