My first sip of the famous Amarula Cream liqueur came after a long day of sight-seeing on one of my trips to South Africa. I wanted to watch the sun set; something that comes recommended for anyone taking in the scenery and sounds of Africa's savannah. And so, I perched myself on the balcony of my hotel room, taking in the sun’s rays as they struck my face, and the breathtaking views of the golf course and swimming pools below. This was going to be one of those work trips that I would at least try to squeeze in some downtime to do absolutely nothing but be present in the moments that came between my very hectic schedule.
I was whisked away into a total abyss of sheer enjoyment. Listen, few things rival an African sunset with a great drink in hand – and for me, it's either a cold dose of Amarula Cream or a Malawi Shandy. I had my first taste on the rocks, as was recommended by friends who are fully versed in world of alcoholic mixology. An interesting liqueur this, especially for those like myself who don't consider ourselves to be regular drinkers. The taste took me back to my sampling of Bailey Irish Cream during my Varsity days, except this tasted more earthy, luxurious to the palate, and all-round delicious.
I had to find out more about how it was made, given the so very distinctive taste Amarula Cream possesses. The gentleman who brought round my second order of room service (yes, I went for a second round) had a tale or two to tell about how the marula fruit, the chief ingredient for my beverage of choice for that evening, was a favourite for Africa's wildlife, especially the elephant.
The marula tree and its fruit are found in Sub-Saharan Africa, and only the female tree produces the fruit. Yes, you read right. The marula tree is a dioecious tree, meaning there are girl-trees and boy-trees. While the male trees bloom, the female trees produce the dream. Need I say more...
Marula fruits are green in colour before ripening, largely in the first quarter of each year. When ripe, marula fruits are golden ovals, with each healthy tree estimated to produce close to 500kgs of the fruit. Note though, that it takes close to 200 fruits to produce a liter of marula wine. That's a lot! Wonder how many fruits go into a bottle of Amarula Cream?
A very difficult source of Vitamin C to find given how the tree only grows wild in Africa, but when you do get your hands on one, a single marula fruit carries 8 times the amount of Vitamin C in an orange! Also, it has been credited for its preventative properties where cancer and heart disease are concerned because of its richness in oleic acids and oxidants. This little fruit has huge benefits for the body as much as it is delicious.
Also, edible are the seeds, which are found inside the small 'stone' inside the fruit, which are rich in protein, mineral content such as iron, phosphorus, copper, zinc and magnesium. It's no wonder oils extracted from marula fruits are used in the manufacture of hair and skin nourishing products.
If one tree can produce close to half a tonne of fruit, think of how many desserts you can get from that! Yes, the marula fruit's rich taste and aroma makes for delectable desserts like South Africa's favourite – malva pudding. Add a shot to your coffee and that will have you sorted as a night cap too!
Few liqueurs bring warmth to my palate, but Amarula Cream ticks all the boxes. Whether it's a movie night at home or like me, watching the sun set while taking in a breathtaking scenery, I have to say, enjoying a glass is a guaranteed way to indulge yourself with the secrets of the marula tree.