Why You'll Never See Fresh Açai At The Grocery Store

Açai has been a tropical fruit favorite for years now, and it's no secret as to why. This small, Central and South American berry has a gorgeous purple hue and strikes the perfect balance between mild and tart. In addition, the fruit has been lauded as a superfood full of vitamins and antioxidants. So, if everyone wants to get their hands on açai, why is it impossible to find fresh in grocery stores? 

Unfortunately, açai spoils incredibly quickly; the berries start to go bad after just a day or two. It turns out that one of the reasons the berry is so popular is also why it is so perishable: its high nutritional content. According to Healthline, açai contains a large amount of healthy fats, including omega-3, omega-6, and monounsaturated oleic acid. 

While this is great news for your body, fats go rancid quickly, giving the berries an unappealing mushy texture and rotten smell. Due to this issue, açai must be preserved — most often by way of freezing — shortly after being harvested in order to last until it reaches store shelves.

How to use frozen açai

While fresh açai may not be an option for your kitchen, the frozen stuff is still a fantastic ingredient, with similar nutrition to fresh ones and packing a punch of flavor (via Healthline). The berry's taste can be compared to blueberries but with a bit more sourness.

It is likely that you've seen açai used in the aptly-named açai bowl, which is a blended fruit dish similar in consistency to a smoothie and then topped with whole fruits, nuts, or granola. This application, or a traditional smoothie, is a fantastic starting point to familiarize yourself with the frozen berry.

Once you are more comfortable, you can branch into the açai recipes of your dreams. Sweeteners like sugar do a lot to bring this ingredient out of its shell. You can stir the berries into your breakfast oatmeal along with some honey, churn them into a batch of fresh and fruity ice cream, or even muddle them in a glass as the base of a unique and beautiful evening cocktail.

Next time you're looking to explore açai, don't be discouraged by the limited availability. By buying frozen, you're getting the berries at their best.