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In Brazil, using fresh fruit instead of packaged juice is not a special summertime treat or bartending trend. It’s the most basic of necessities, as evidenced in São Paulo’s Municipal Market, where there are stacks of fruits both semi-familiar (oblong yellow passion fruits and bright reddish-orange persimmons) and totally exotic (brown pod-like cupuaçu and deep purple jabuticabas).
Simplifying matters, there are about four levels of fruit freshness for Brazilians. The best is natural—the fruit in its entirety is present and accounted for, awaiting smashing, muddling, blending or squeezing. (In juice stands, you can see what’s natural; in restaurants, you may have to ask.) Acceptable is fruta em polpa, generally frozen pulp. That’s how you’ll usually find fruits that come from far-away corners of the Amazon, like açaí, but in São Paulo things like guava can go either way. Then there are packaged juices from brands like Minute Maid Mais, which usually come with added sugar or artificial sweetener and are used mostly at home. Finally come sugar-water concoctions that are packaged in pastry-and-juice-for-a-dollar packages that are generally consumed by school kids and the poor.
The importance of fruit freshness goes double for drinks like batidas, a general Portuguese term for any shaken or blended drink but more often used specifically to refer to what happens when cachaça or other spirits meet fruit, condensed milk, ice and spinning blades. Click here for a traditional coconut batida recipe from Brazil a Gosto in São Paulo.
Read about the versatility of cachaça in cocktails.