Proc. Interamer. Soc. Trop. Hort. 46:11-13. Fruit/Frutales – October 2002
Camu-Camu (Myrciaria dubia Mc Vaugh): A Rich Natural Source of Vitamin C
Ricardo Elesbão Alves, Heloisa Almeida Cunha Filgueiras, Carlos Farley Hebster Moura, Nágela Cristina Costa Araújo and
Adriano Silva Almeida, Embrapa Agroindústria Tropical, CP 3761, 60.511-110, Fortaleza, CE, Brazil, elesbao@cnpat.embrapa.br.
Abstract. Fruit were harvested and analyzed in three stages of
maturation according to color – green, ¾ green and ¾ red.
Ascorbic acid content was higher in more mature fruit, varying
from 1791 to 2061 mg/100g. The tart flavor of camu-camu is due
to its high titrable acidity, even in ¾ red fruits – 2.6% as citric
acid, and low soluble sugar content – 1.5% as glucose in ¾ red
fruit. The contents of starch and pectin, varying respectively from
0.43 to 0.34% and 0.17 to 0.11% as fruit matures from green to ¾
red, suggest that the extraction of juice or pulp may be relatively
easy and will benefit little from the use of processing enzymes. On
the other hand, phenolic content may indicate a factor of
restriction to palatability,because they are associated to
astringency. All the extracted fractions methanol-soluble; 50%
methanol-soluble and water-soluble, gave high phenolic contents,
even though they reduced as fruit matured from green to ¾ red.
Resumen. Los frutos fueron cosechados y analizados en 3 estados
de madurez, según el color: verde, ¾ verde y ¾ rojo. El contenido de
ácido ascórbico hallado fue superior en muchos frutos maduros,
variando de 1791,48 a 2061,04 mg/100g. El sabor ácido del camucamu
es debido a su alta acidez titulable, así distribuida en frutos ¾
rojos – 2,63% de ácido cítrico, y bajo contenido de azúcares solubles
– 1,48% de glucosa en frutos ¾ rojos. Los contenidos de almidón y
pectina variaron, respectivamente, desde 0,43 hasta 0,34% y 0.17
hasta 0,11% en frutos maduros, analizados desde verdes hasta ¾
rojos, sugiriendo que la extracción de zumo o pulpa podría ser
relativamente fácil y seria poco beneficiada por el uso de enzimas
procesadoras. Por otro lado, el contenido en fenólicos podría indicar
un factor de restricción para su palatabilidad, una vez que ese factor
está generalmente asociado con la astringencia y todas las fracciones
solubles en metanol y en agua, alcanzaron altos contenidos de
fenólicos, aunque su contenido disminuyó con la maduración, desde
el fruto verde hasta ¾ rojo.
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The species Myrciaria dubia H.B.K. McVaugh, belongs to Myrtaceae family and is dispersed in almost all the Amazon region and
found in the wild state in the margins of the rivers and lakes. The plant is a 3 to 8 m high shrub, the fruits are known in Brazil as camucamu,
caçari or araçá-de-água;in Colombia as guayabo; in Venezuela, guayabato and in Peru camu-camu (Souza et al., 1996). The
fruits are globe berries, very similar to jaboticaba (Myrciaria spp.), the skin color varying from red to violet when mature and very
resistant, which facilitates the transport. Fruits are normally eaten by fishes, that are the main agents of dispersion for this species. The
pulp has a pleasant flavor and is soft, juicy and very sour (INPA, 1989; Souza et al., 1996; Silva, 1998). At harvest time plants are
submerged and it is possible to harvest only those that are above water surface, using small canoes. Fruits are harvested when the first
signs of red color appear (Villachica, 1996a). The most probably origin for this species is the Western Amazon, and the biggest source
of genetic diversity is in Peruvian Amazon. The species is widely distributed in the Amazon Basin, mainly in the margins of rivers and
lakes in Peru, Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela. The main characteristic of camu-camu is its extremely high content of ascorbic acid,
much higher than those found in the pulp of acerola or citrus juices , known as rich sources of vitamin C (Souza et al. 1996; Silva, 1998).
Camu-camu is used in the manufacture of juice, ice cream or in blends with other fruits to enrich vitamin C content. In United States,
Japan and France markets, products can be found as candies of vitamin C produced with camu-camu (Silva, 1996). In Peru, according
to Villachica (1996b), research is being developed towards the industrial exploitation of camu-camu. However, the lack of organized
orchards is still one of the obstacles to be surpassed for camu-camu industrialization. This work aimed to evaluate the physical,
physical-chemical, chemical and biochemical characteristics of camu-camu pulp to be used as subsidies for industrial processing,
maximizing its potentialities and adding value to the fruit.
Materials and Methods
Fruits were harvested in March 1999, in the experimental station of Embrapa Amazônia Oriental, in Belém, Pará, Brazil, transported
by air to Fortaleza, Ceará, where the analysis were carried out, in the the Laboratory of Postharvest Physiology and Technology of
Embrapa Agroindústria Tropical. Analysis of physical characteristics were performed immediately upon arrival of the samples – fresh
weight, seed weight, rind + pulp weight; size (diameter and length). Fruits were then pulped and frozen for further analysis: total soluble
solids – TSS (AOAC, 1992); total titrable acidity – TTA (IAL, 1985); palatability index – TSS/TTA; pH (IAL, 1985); total soluble sugars –
TSA (Yenm y Willis, 1954); reducing sugars – RS (Miller, 1959); vitamin C (Strohecker y Henning, 1967); starch (AOAC, 1992); water,
methanol and 50% methanol soluble phenolic compounds (Reicher et al., 1981); total and soluble pectin (McCready and McComb,
1952; Blumenkrantz and Asboe-Hansen, 1973); pectic fractions in alcohol insoluble solids (Mangas et al., 1992; Blumenkrantz and
Asboe-Hansen, 1973) in alcoho. Fruits for native enzyme activity determination – pectinmethylesterase (PME) and polygalacturonase
(PG), were frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored in ultra low temperature freezer at -85ºC. All analysis were carried out in three repetitions
of 25 fruits, and in fruits harvested in two maturity stages identified by skin color as predominantly green and predominantly purple
(Miller, 1959; Ratner et al., 1969; Pressey and Avants, 1973).
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Results and Discussion
The characteristics of camu-camu in two maturity stages are shown in Table 1. It was observed

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