The fruit that Brazilian call the jambo (botanical name Syzygium jambos) has many names in English. Depending on the region, it is known as Malabar plum, plum rose, water apple, jambrosade, rose apple or Malay plum. The names Malabar plum and Malay plum indicate the fruit's original habitat - the tropical zones of South and Southeast Asia. The fruit was carried from Asia back to Portugal by early Portuguese navigators, and thence onward to Brazil, where it flourishes in the tropical regions of the country.
There are many varieties of jambo, but the three most commonly seen in Brazil are distinguished by their color - jambo vermelho (red jambo), which is a dark winy reddish-purple, jambo branco (white jambo) which is an icy, glossy white, and jambo rosa (pink jambo), which is light rosy pink in color.
|red jambo flower|
The fruit of jambo is smallish, about the size of a child's fist, and slightly elongated - either pear-shaped or bell-shaped. The skin is waxy and thin, and the hollow core of the fruit contains one or two seeds. The flesh is white and is crispy and juicy like an apple. The fruit isn't highly flavored, though it is sweet. It is very aromatic, and the similarity of the fruit's aroma to roses accounts for such English names as plum rose or rose apple.
Jambo isn't highly commercialized, and is usually only seen in markets in areas where the fruit is cultivated. Most of the fruits consumed are eaten fresh, although jambo can be successfully preserved in syrup or made into a compote.