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The Waxberry is round and covered in a deep red to purple hued, roughly textured exterior, similar to that of a lychee. Its interior flesh is soft and overtly succulent with a ruby color slightly lighter than that of its exterior. Its flesh has a sweet tart flavor and contains a singular hard seed in the center of the fruit. Both the skin and flesh of the Waxberry are edible.
Waxberries are only available for a few weeks between late spring and early summer.
Waxberry, also known as yang-mei, grows on evergreen trees known as Myrica rubra. It is a relative of the bayberry, a tree grown in the United States whose fruit is used mainly for making candles. While fresh Waxberries are not currently grown or sold in most global markets, the juice of the Waxberry has recently made its way into commercial markets sold under the name, Yumberry.
The Waxberry is high in vitamins C and E and contains riboflavin, thiamine and carotene. They are also being touted as the next big ‘super fruit’ due to their high content of antioxidants.
Waxberries are great enjoyed fresh out of hand but can also be used in a number of cooked and raw preparations, both savory and sweet. They can be baked into pies and tarts or cooked down to make sauces and preserves. Waxberries also make great additions to salads, stews and soups. Complimentary pairings include cinnamon, orange blossom, rose, lavender, coconut, lemongrass, citrus, pineapple, apricot, pear, cotton candy, nutmeg, lychees, caramel, banana, and herbs such as cilantro and basil.
In China, Waxberries have long been used for medicinal purposes and are touted for their ability to help alleviate pain, promote healthy digestion, as an anti-inflammatory and in prevention of certain types of cancer. They are also prized in China for their ability to help prevent wrinkles and keep skin looking young.
Waxberries are native to China where they have been cultivated for over 2000 years, though records indicate the fruit may have been harvested as far back as 5000 B.C. Waxberries thrive in the humid subtropical regions of China, in particular between Shanghai and Hainan. Currently there are over 865,000 acres devoted to growing waxberries in China where it remains primarily a domestic product. Growing Waxberries is currently prohibited in the United States in effort to prevent the spread of fruit insects.
Recipes that include Waxberries. One is easiest, three is harder.