You may not know it but the fruit of our ubiquitous sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera) is edible. The grapes hang in long, stiff clusters from the branches of this small tree and are reddish-purple when ripe. They have a refreshing sub-acid flavor and are relished by young and old alike on the island. To make sea grape ade at your rental home or villa, simply harvest the ripe berries and wash thoroughly under the tap, transfer to zip lock plastic bags and freeze. When frozen solid, place an amount in a pitcher and cover with tap water. As the fruit defrosts, it will release all of its delicious juice all by itself – although an agitation or two with a wooden spoon by you is helpful. Sweeten to taste and enjoy. It’s that easy. Or make your own “Jello” by adding unsweetened gelatin to the resulting liquid and following package directions.
Called uva de playa in Spanish, you’ll find this highly salt-resistant and wind tolerant bush-like tree on most any Vieques beach. The long, pendant clusters of reddish-purple “grapes” are delicious, mellow and sweet, and prove to be highly popular with Viequenses of all ages.