BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO
Cherries are a good addition to deserts because they’re sweet and juicy. They can also be used in a variety of products such as jams, juices, tarts, and more. There are different varieties of cherries available around the world, among them the Surinam cherry.
Surinam cherries (Eugenia uniflora) are native to South America, from Guyana to southern Brazil and northern Uruguay. It was introduced to Bermuda as a garden tree because it produces edible fruit.
The fruits have a sweet-tart, acidic flavor with some hints of mild, earthy, and subtly bitter nuances.
A retired couple grows the cherry variety among other fruits on their farm in Bataan. Racquelita and Romeo Rabino, a retired bank manager and seaman respectively, started farming after they moved to Bataan for Racquelita’s work. They became interested in farming as their retirement plan. But instead of waiting for retirement, they gradually became immersed in farming until it became constant in their lives.
“During one of our plant tours in Laguna, we were served Surinam cherries and we loved the juicy sweet with a little tart of that blackberries,” the couple shared.
Because they follow a principle of planting what they want to eat or use, they bought seedlings of Surinam cherries that they can plant on their farm.
Requirements to growing the cherries
Surinam cherries are small fruits that are round and deeply ribbed. Its skin is thin, smooth, delicate, and glossy.
According to the Rabinos, the cherry variety isn’t complicated to grow because it thrives in any soil type like sandy or clayish, like the soil on their farm.
The couple also planted the cherry tree in an area that gets enough sun exposure. Just like any fruit-bearing tree, Surinam cherry trees bear more fruit when they receive the right amount of sunlight.
Once the trees have been established, the couple only waters them during the summer because it prefers consistently slight moisture compared to being soaked and allows its soil to dry out.
Fertilizers are then given every four months while insecticides are sprayed on the trees only as needed.
Medicinal benefits of Surinam cherries
Apart from being tasty, several health benefits can come from consuming Surinam cherries.
Surinam cherries are a good source of vitamin A which helps maintain healthy organ function and vitamin C to boost the immune system. Surinam cherries are also a good source of antioxidants that protects cells against free radical damage. It also contains calcium and phosphorus that strengthen bones and teeth.
The fruits are used in Central and South America as natural medicine. A concoction is made from the essential oils to fight against a common fungus known as Paracoccidioidomycosis which causes a chronic infection that can manifest in several ways on the human body.
Leaves of the Surinam cherry tree are also used topically or scattered across floors because their pungent smell is used as an insect repellant.
Surinam cherries are only one among the variety of plants and fruit-bearing trees that the Rabinos grow on their farm. The couple finds joy in growing and harvesting all kinds of produce on their farm because despite being seniors, it gives them meaning and satisfaction while remaining productive.
For more information, visit Rabino Family Farm on Facebook.
Photos courtesy of Racquelita and Romeo Rabino