The most common way we eat this fruit is just sprinkled with salt, a favorite of Dominican children. but If you can find vinagrillos, then make these amazing encurtido y vinagre de vinagrillo (bilimbi pickle and vinegar).
This is not a fruit you can find at supermarkets and markets. It's usually procured from neighborhood trees, or maroteadas (scrumped). A favorite of Dominican children
If you are lucky enough to find it, here's what you can make with them.
What is bilimbi (vinagrillo)
Averrhoa bilimbi is the scientific name for a fruit-bearing tree native to Indonesia. The fruit, similar to a small cucumber, has a strong vinegary taste (hence the name "vinagrillo", meaning "little vinegar"). The sourness does not survive well heat or cooking, so it's best used raw or pickled.
Bilimbi tree thrives in tropical climates with a rainy season, which means it grows happily in the Dominican Republic, where it is known as vinagrillo. In other countries, it is known as bilimbi, cucumber tree, or tree sorel.
How to eat bilimbi
This intensely sour fruit is commonly eaten sprinkled with salt. Dominican grownups use it to make homemade vinegar, or pickle it. It can be also made into a kind of compote by cooking it with sugar and spices, the sourness mostly dissipates with heat.
You can make a bilimbi dessert by following this recipe.
About these recipes
Vinagre de vinagrillo, or agrio de vinagrillo are not as well-known or liked as agrio de naranja, another homemade Dominican "vinegar", used to add spiciness to stews. But while not as widespread, it's always appreciated if we're presented with it.
For the agrio de vinagrillo I used Scotch bonnet peppers, a fiercely spicy pepper favored in the Caribbean. Less-spicy and easier to find, habaneros make a great substitute.
The pickled vinagrillo, however, is not a traditional recipe. I simply like pickles, and wondered if vinagrillo would work as well, and without having to actually pickle anything (pre-pickled pickles!). It did, I loved it in my burgers, and was sad when I ran out of it. So, if you like pickles, and have vinagrillo, you're in luck. Also, send me some.
[Recipe + Video] Encurtido y Agrio de Vinagrillo (Bilimbi Pickle and Vinegar)
For agrio de vinagrillo (bilimbi vinegar)
- 2 dozen bilimbi fruits, rinsed, divided
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1 Scotch bonnnet pepper, (or two habaneros, see notes)
- 3 allspice berries
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 bilimbi fruits
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoon sugar
- 3 allspice berries
To make agrio
- Blending: Blend half the bilimbi fruit and sift to obtain the juice. Discard solids, set juice aside.
- Combining: Cut the remaining bilimbi fruit and garlic into thin slices. Place them in a lidded jar. Add Scotch bonnet pepper (halved), and allspice.Pour in the bilimbi juice.
- Resting: Cover with a clean cloth and let it rest on the kitchen counter for 24 hours. Once rested, add salt and cover with tight-fitting lid.
- Serving and storing: This agrio can be used to make your stews spicy and more flavorful. It's left on the table for guests to add it to their own taste. It will get more potent as time passes, so keep that in mind.Always maintain refrigerated, and use within the next two weeks.
To pickle bilimbi
- Combining: Cut the bilimbi fruit into thin slices. Place them in a lidded jar. Add salt, sugar, and allspice. Add enough hot water to cover.
- Resting: Cover with tight-fitting lid. Let it rest in the fridge for 48 hours.
- Serving and storing: Use this pickle as you would regular pickle. I loved it in my burgers and sandwiches.Always maintain refrigerated, and use within the next two weeks.
Tips and Notes
Nutritional information is calculated automatically based on ingredients listed. Please consult your doctor if you need precise nutritional information.