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Curry berries are the fruit of the curry tree and grow in clusters consisting of 32-80 small fruits. Curry berries are round and approximately half an inch in diameter. The aromatic white blooms of the tree produce tiny fruits which start out green and ripen to a shiny black hue. Their internal flesh constitutes about 50% of the fruit and is ethereal blue with a juicy texture. Each fruit contains 1 to 2 deep green seeds which are TOXIC and not to be consumed.
Curry berries are available in the summer.
The Curry fruit grows on the evergreen curry tree, known throughout India by several different names such as karepaku, narasingha bishahari, and mitha neem. The tree is botanically known as Murraya koenigii and belongs to the Rutaceae, or citrus, family. The trees are most famous for their “curry leaves,” a common spice in Indian cuisine. Though not as commonly consumed, Curry berries are also edible.
Curry berries contain a large amount of vitamin C and anthocyanins as well as the minerals calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. Curry berries are also being studied for their potential use as a natural treatment for diabetes.
Please note that Curry berries have TOXIC seeds which should not be consumed. Curry berries can be eaten fresh as a snacking fruit. They can also be squeezed for their juice. Most commonly they are used to make a nutritional juice or tonic used in Ayurvedic medicine. Though the seeds are toxic, they do contain an antibacterial and antifungal essential oil that is used in perfumery. Most commonly it is the leaves of the curry tree that are used.
The edible products of the curry tree have been an important part of Indian cooking and Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years. The plant also has landscape value, serving as a shade tree and, when planted in a row, a hedge and windbreak.
Murraya koenigii is native to India and Sri Lanka and thrives in many other tropical and subtropical areas where it has been planted by Indian immigrants. Though not widely grown in the United States curry trees can be found growing in Southern California, Hawaii, and parts of Florida. Trees grow from the seeds within the Curry berry. Efforts have been made in recent years to cultivate trees in the United States to meet the demand for the leaves from Indian immigrants and discourage the smuggling of curry leaves. As the curry tree is part of the citrus family care must be taken not to introduce potential citrus pests and diseases from one region to another, the results of this could be devastating to a growing region. Curry trees prefer full sun exposure with a small amount of shade and even though tropical can withstand mild frost in the cooler months. The curry tree is a slow starter but once established can live for up to 50 years if properly cared for.
Recipes that include Curry Berries. One is easiest, three is harder.
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