Barbados Cherry (Malpighia Punicifolia L. ,acerola, West Indian cherry, cereza colorado, and wild crepe myrtle)
Barbados Cherry is wonderful shrub commonly 6 feet tall in Texas, and growing into a small tree in other places in Florida, the West Indies, Central America, and South America. The leaves are evergreen, and produces small pink flowers all spring, summer, and fall. I can see why one of its name is wild crepe myrtle since the flower resembles crepe myrtle. It sets a small globular red fruit throughout the growing season, particularly after heavy rains. When I first heard the name, Barbados cherry, I wanted to them them in my yard. I kept hounding friends until one gave me a start.and so now I keep them as a hedge trimmed to three feet tall in my yard. However they can get quite wide if left to their own devices. They will sucker, self-layer, and generally reproduce quite easily on their own so one has to be careful to keep them trimmed. With all the red berries they are quite attractive. It is said that children like the fruit, so I must not be a kid anymore for I don’t find them very delicious to eat out of hand. They do make a tasty and attractive jelly. Since it takes quite a few berries to make up 8 cups you may need to freeze the fruit throughout the season until your bushes produce a sufficient number. The good news is that they are one of the few native fruit bearing plants in Texas that don’t have thorns so that makes up for their small sized fruit. I just pull up a stool next to the plant and start picking. My neighbors always stop by as they see me picking, wondering what I am doing.
Gather up 8 cups of fruit. Cover them with 4 1/2 cups water. Cook them in a pot until the fruit are soft. Crush with a potato masher, and then run through a food mill and then cheese cloth to remove the pulp and seeds. Return the juice to the pot. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice. Add 3 cups of sugar. Bring to boil and add 4 tablespoons of no sugar needed pectin. Boil for a minute and a half. Let cool slightly then pour into freezer containers. Let it cool and then place in the freezer.
Barbados Cherry Jelly Recipe
4 cups Barbados Cherry Juice
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 Tablespoons No sugar needed pectin