Ask the Chef: Camu Berry Powder

by Julie Morris, Navitas Naturals Executive Chef
July 28, 2014

All About Camu

Q: What is camu berry powder and how do I use it?

Reddish-purple camu berries grow on small shrub-like trees in tropical wet climates, like the Peruvian Amazon region, where Navitas’ camu is cultivated. Amazonian natives have used camu berries as a natural medicine for centuries. Today, we think of camu as “nature’s vitamin C pill." Camu berries are one of the world’s most abundant natural sources of vitamin C, boasting quantities that are over 60 times that of oranges! Vitamin C is an incredibly important micronutrient: it acts as an antioxidant, protects our cells from damage, and helps our bodies heal. Vitamin C also assists in iron absorption, is an essential anti-inflammatory nutrient, protects skin health, and boosts our immune system. And beyond the powerful “C’ content, these berries are also an excellent source of potassium, protein, calcium, beta carotene, amino acids, and powerful phytochemicals.

Since fresh camu berries can be difficult to find in your local supermarket, Navitas Naturals offers convenient and easy-to-use freeze-dried Camu Powder, which is made by picking the berries at peak ripeness and gently freeze-drying them into a powder to retain optimum nutrition content. This powder is 100% camu, and just one tiny teaspoon contains a whopping 1,180% of vitamin C!

Peruvians have traditionally used camu berries in ice creams, beverages, and sweet treats – all smart culinary methods as it’s important not to heat camu during cooking or its precious vitamin C content will be destroyed. In terms of taste a la carte, camu berries are naturally quite tart (because of the incredibly high vitamin C content) and similar to cranberries – so admittedly the powder is not exactly the kind of flavor you “feature” in a recipe. However, camu offers such a condensed nutritional impact that it’s worth finding ways to sneak it in (an easy thing to do as a little goes a very long way in recipes). Most people find that anything from a pinch up to a teaspoon is perfect to add into smoothies, juices, energy bars, and raw food recipes.

One of the most popular ways to use camu powder is by adding it to just about any smoothie or blender drink you make, such as the amazingly refreshing Camu-Grapefruit Slushie -- a summertime favorite! Or, instead of pouring store-bought dressing on your lunchtime salad, try making my Raspberry Camu Vinaigrette for a mid-day immune system boost. You can even simply whisk in a pinch into your favorite juice – enjoying the incredible benefits of camu powder is literally just that easy.

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