Cluster of acai berries hanging from palm tree
What Actually Is Acai And What Does It Taste Like?
What Is Acai?
Acai is a dark purple berry that grows on a specific palm tree native to the Amazon rainforest, where the indigenous population has enjoyed the fruit for centuries.
Today, due to its superfood reputation, the fruit is popular worldwide, particularly in the United States, which accounts for 70% of Brazil's exports of the fruit.
Since acai berries are quite fragile, you're unlikely to find fresh acai stateside. However, you can purchase the berry powdered, pulped, or in pill form.
A pill will suffice to reap the health benefits, but if you want to cook with it, the pulped form is the truest form of the natural fruit and will give you the strongest flavor.
Like other berries, acai has a taste that balances sweetness and tartness, somewhat similar to raspberries or blackberries, with an added richness.
From there, the taste can change depending on how you're eating it, but it typically has chocolatey notes reminiscent of dark cocoa with a subdued earthiness and bitterness.
Cooking With Acai
Pulped acai will have a stronger flavor compared to powder, but either form can be used in smoothies or smoothie bowls.
You can also add it to pancake or waffle batter, use it in syrups or dressings, or serve it with toasted cassava flour and fried fish or dried shrimp like they do in Brazil.
Where To Buy Acai
Since acai is easily perishable, you won't find fresh berries in the United States, but frozen, pulped, and powdered versions are readily available.
You can likely find some variation of the fruit at your local market or at online retailers, but keep in mind that pulped acai will be significantly more pricey than powdered.