Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bitter gourds (Momordica charantia)

Bitter gourds (Momordica charantia) is also known as Karela, bitter melon. The root, leaves and fruit from this plant are used as vegetables and in some medicinal uses. The plant is native from either China or India.

Preparing to serve as food
Slice bitter gourds into circles or lengthwise, and remove the seeds and pulp. Parboil them before cook, to remove the bitterness. They can be then stuffed, steamed, stir-fried, or pickled.

Special dishes using bitter gourds
  • combine prepared gourds with black, fermented soy beans to use in curries.
  • green leaves and young shoots are also edible after parboiling and stir-fried like greens.
  • pickled bitter gourds can be used in making special chutney.

Medicinal uses
  • Recent research suggests that, more than 22 medicinally active substances has been identified in bitter gourds, which are useful in treating diabetes as well as other diseases such as cancer, ulcer, hepatitis, measles, HIV and immune disorders.
  • Bitter gourds contains Gurmarin, a polypeptide considered to be similar to bovine insulin, which has been shown in experimental studies to achieve a positive sugar regulating effect by suppressing the neural response to sweet taste stimuli.
  • Diabetic patients can take the juice of bitter gourds. The seeds of bitter melon also can be added to food in a powdered form.
  • The use of Bitter gourds during pregnancy is not recommended.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Betel nuts (areca nuts)

Betel nuts(areca nuts) are the seeds of Betel palm (Areca catechu), which are native to Malaya. The size of the nuts are about 2 inches(5cm) long and colored between dark-brown to gray.

In general, the betel nuts become mature between the months August and November. The matured betel nuts are boiled in water, cut into slices, and dried in the sun. The driend nuts are then broken down into smaller pieces (sometimes into a powder) and mixed with edible lime (which aids in the absorption of their active ingredients, arecaine and arecoline, to human body). The mixture is then wrappen together in a leaf of the betel pepper (Piper betle) and chewed. To improve the taste and flavor, the betel-lime mixture can be then added with a small amount of nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, tamarind or cardamom.

The alkaloid and arecoline ingredients of Betel nuts are a mild stimulant which produce a feeling of wellbeing, when chewing the above prepared mixture. 

Overuse of betel nuts chewing can cause a feeling of intoxication and convulsions. The habitual and long term betel nut chewers will eventually develop a distinctive red stain of the mouth, teeth, and gums; and sometime it alos cause tooth decay.

Other uses
The betel nuts are used to destroy intestinal worms, and are also used as a dewormer in veterinary medicine.

How betel nut got this name?
Since, the leaves from Piper betle(betel) are chewed together with areca nut and edible lime (the mixture is also called calcium hydroxide,  limbux, or slaked lime); and with that  association, the areca nut has become known as betel nut.
[image: woman holds Betel nut with piper betle]

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas) - Cheenikizhangu

This plant is cultivated for it's large edible tuber, which is being used as vegetable; They are eaten after boiled, baked and fried. The sweet potato can also be dried and ground into flour to make biscuits, and breads. The leaves and shoots of the plant are also edible. The large sweet potato tubers are range in color from purple to white or orange.

The sweet potato plant is vigorous, which spreads over with its dark green heart-shaped or five-lobed leaves closely to the ground.

The sweet potato is a good source of sugars, carbohydrates, calcium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C. It contains carotenoids which can help to stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance, making cells more responsive to insulin.

The leaf decoction from the plant is used in folk remedies for tumors of the mouth and throat.

[sweet potato being cut open]

Yam - Dioscorea alata

Yam is cultivated for their edible underground tuber; and is a popular food item in tropics. Yam tubers are boiled, peeled and then mashed for eating. It can be also prepared like potato chips or french fries. It tastes sweet with starchy.

Yam is native to Southeast Asia. The plant grows for 8 to 10 months, and goes dormant about 3 to 4 months.

The flesh of yam tubers varies colors between white to yellow, and filled up with 15% to 40% starch, with little or no protein. Yam tuber contains more natural sugar than even sweet potatoes and are rich in moisture content.

Yam is termed as kachil kizhangu in tamil language.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mango - Queen of tropical fruits

Mango is one of the most celebrated of all tropical fruits and is regarded as queen among any fruits. In general, the tree is long-lived, and some specimens being known to be 300 years old and still fruiting.

Mango fruits would normally reach maturity in 4 to 5 months after the flowering season. The fruits can be eaten fresh and raw. The fruit has one seed that is flattened and sticks centrally with the flesh.

The fruits can be cut in half or side-by-side to the stone. the slices are twisted in opposite directions to free the stone which has to be removed, and the long slices served for eating as appetizers or dessert. Or the two "cheeks" may be cut off, following the contour of the stone; then the remaining side long finger slices of flesh are cut off for use in fruit cups, etc.

The frozen and dried/ canned fruits are used in jams, jellies, preserves, pies, chutney and ice cream. The young green mangoes are also can be eaten raw.

The fruit weighs about 1/4 pound to 3 pounds. The shape of the fruit may be round, ovate, or obovate differ between various cultivar and variety. The immature and young fruits has their skin in green color and as the fruit gets mature, the color of the skin may gradually turns to yellow, orange, purple, red, or combinations of these colors. The flesh of mature fruit is pale yellow to orange. The flesh is juicy, sweet, and sometimes with fibrous.

India produces mango crop, which is 9,920,700 tons and 65% of the world's total mango crop; in 2,471,000 acres of mango cultivation land (which is roughly 70% of its fruit-growing area in the world). Chief importers of mangoes are England and France, absorbing 82% of all mango shipments.

Mango cultivation are native to southern Asia, eastern India, Burma, and the Andaman Islands. Reduction in the size and height of mango plants would be a most desirable goal for the commercial planter, to assist easy harvesting and easy maintainance of trees in different fruiting seasons.

To induce early fruiting, double-grafting has been done in dwarf mango trees. A cultivar 'Julie' is a hybrid dwarf, which has been developed naturally. The polyembryonic Indian cultivars, 'Olour' and 'Vellai Colamban', when used as rootstocks, have a dwarfing effect; so has the polyembryonic 'Sabre' in experiments in Israel and South Africa.

The chemicals in this mangos plant are sometime very irritating to persons who are allergic to poison ivy (Toxicodendron).

Health benefits
  • In general, mango fruits are low in calories and high in dietary fibre.
  • Mangoes contains phenols compound, which has rich antioxidant and anticancer properties.
  • Pregnant women and people with anemia are advised to eat mango fruit regularly. since the iron rich contents of mango.
  • Mango is effective in relieving clogged pores of the skin.
  • Mangoe fruits are particularly rich in potassium, which can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
  • It is also valuable to combat acidity and poor digestion.
  • Even a small size mango holds a quarter of your recommended daily allowance for vitamin C, nearly 2/3's of your daily quota for vitamin A(beta-carotene), and a good amount of vitamin E and Selenium, which help to protect against heart disease.
  • In Chinese Medicine, mangoes are considered sweet and sour with a good cooling energy and are made as tonic.
  • Recent researches suggest mango fruits are a powerful cancer-fighters.
See nutrition values for raw mango fruit at bloodindex

Other uses

The fat from the mango seeds has high stearic acid content and is desirable for soap-making. The seed residue from the extraction of this fat is used for cattle feed and soil enrichment.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Persimmons are grown for it's edible fruits. The persimmon fruit is known to be "the fruit of the gods" in the ancient Greeks. The tree can grow high up to 25 feet (7.6 m).

The fruit is size 3.5 inch(8.9 cm) in diameter, and the shape of the fruit varies between spherical, acorn-like, and pumpkin-shaped; with color pale yellow, orange, or red exterior with an orange flesh inside.

There are two types of persimmon fruits, one is with the astringent flavor while the other is non-astringent.

The fresh persimmon fruits can be eaten raw out-of-hand, or dried, or after cooked. When the fresh fruit is eaten raw, the outer skin is cut and removed, and the flesh is often cut into quarters or eaten whole like apples.

[image: sliced persimmon fruits]

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia is grown fot it's edible nuts. The tree can grows up to 12 meter in height. The nut is shaped globose and follicle with a pointed apex. The nuts have a smooth and hard shell, which contains one or two seeds. The inside kernel is white with uniform quality and will shrink slightly after the harvest.

Macadamia nuts can be eaten raw after removed the husks, which covers the nuts. The white kernals are also eaten sometimes roasted by cooking in oil or salted. An edible bland salad oil also made from these nuts. A coffee names 'almond coffee' also made from these nuts.

Macadamia nuts are highly nutritious; and they are very rich in beneficial monounsaturated fats.

[image: the shelled macadamia nuts]

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pecan Nuts

The pecans tree are large and can grow up height well over 100 feets.

The pecan nuts are shape oval, smooth, up to 2.5 inches long. The outer husk is fleshy at immature and turns to fibrous, and splitting open at maturity. The shells of the fruit are hard, thin, woody. The kernel can be easily separated when mature.

The pecan nuts are edible, with a rich, buttery flavor; and can be directly eaten raw. They can be also prepared into sweet desserts, ice creams and cookery. An oil pressed from pecan nuts are good for salad dressing.

The pecan nuts are shelled and put in the refrigerator in cold storage, to keep about nine months; and it can be keep upto two years if it kept in the freezer. These shelled pecan nuts can also stay good to another additional two months after being removed from the cold storage.

Medicinal facts: A diet rich in these pecan nuts can lower the risk of gallstones, in women. The antioxidants and plant sterols found in pecan nuts can be reduce high cholesterol by reducing the "bad" LDL cholesterol levels. There are scientific evidence suggests, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pecan nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Pecans tree is native to the lower Mississippi Valley and westward through Texas, and in northern Mexico.
[image: the ripe pecan nuts]

Santol - wild mangosteen

The santol fruits are shape globose to oblate, with size about 1 1/2 to 3 inch (4 to 7.5 cm) wide. There are two different varieties within this fruits; and they are, the 'pink to red' variety and the 'yellow to golden'. The tree can be grows upto 150 feet in height.

The inner part of the fruits are the edible white, translucent, milky, juicy pulp; which is sorrounded by a thin and thick downy rind. The taste of the pulp is sweet, subacid or sour. The pulp also contains 3 to 5 small brown seeds, which are inedible.

The fresh fruit can be eaten raw and plain or salted or with other spices added. These fruits can be eaten without peeling, as the rind is also edible; only the seeds are inedible. These fruits are sometimes candied and also prepared into some alcoholic beverages.

Santol is native to Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia; and are now being cultivated throughout India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and many Pacific Islands.
[image: the Santol fruit after cut open]

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Brazil Nut

The brazil nut tree is grown for it's edible seeds. The brazil trees are among the largest of trees in the Amazon Rainforests, and grows high up to 100 feet. These trees can live upto 500 years and more.

The fruit of the tree is a large capsule with round shape, which is size about 6 inches in diameter, and weighing around 2 kg(4-5 pounds). The outer skin of the fruit is a hard woody shell, which has thickness about 0.5 inch (8 to 12 mm). The capsule contains a small hole at one end. The inside of the fruit capsule contains about 8 to 24 3-sided angular nuts, each with size about 4 to 5 cm long, and are packed compfortably very similar to that of the segments of an orange. The shell of each of these individual 3-sided angular thin nuts are woody and, are fully filled with a white and creamy kernel.

Brazil nuts are often substituted for macadamia nuts and sometimes coconuts in recipes. An oil pressed from these nuts are used as a lubricant in clocks, for making artist's paints, and also in the cosmetics industry.

Nutrition facts: The Brazil nuts are rich in lipid and protein content.

Other facts: Brazil nuts are contains barium and small amounts of radioactive radium. The shell of the nuts contains high levl of aflatoxins, which can lead to liver cancer; and hence restrictions imposed for importing to some countries.
[image: a cut open view of brazil nut pod]


Abiu fruits are shaped from round to oval with a point, and sometimes with a short nipple at the apex. The skin of the fruit is smooth, tough, pale-yellow in color when mature. This fruit is also relative to sapodilla.

The pulp of the fruit is translucent and white, with a creamy and jelly-like texture along with 1 to 4 shiny brownish ovate seeds. The immature and young fruits are permeated with latex and are very gummy and astringent. The taste of the flesh is sweet like caramel.

The fresh fruit can be eaten raw out-of-hand as table fruits. These fruits are also used in making ice creams.

Abiu fruits are native to the Amazonian region of South America, and are now being cultivated throughout the tropics of Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


The Guava plants are mainly grown for it's edible fruits.

Guava fruits are shaped from round to oval and sometime peer shaped. The thin outer skin is rough, green to light-yellow color, sometimes bitter taste. Next to the skin, a thick layer 1/8 to 1/2 inch (3-12.5 mm) granular flesh, and the color varies between cultivars as pink, red, white or yellowish; the flavor is juicy and tastes sweet or subacid; The central pulp is juicy and also with the same color or slightly dark towards the center. The central pulp filled fully with many yellowish chewable seeds; each with size about 1/8 inch (3 mm) long. Seed counts may varies between 110 to 540 per fruit.

The fresh guava fruits can be eaten raw as table fruits, after removing the outer skin which is sometimes bitter in taste. A tea also prepared from guava fruits and leaves. Sometime, the young or mature guava fruits are boiled to be used in making candies, preserves, marmalades, jams and jellies. The juice made from guava fruits are also a very popular beverage.

Medicinal uses:

A mixed decoction is prepared from the guava leaves and bark is taken to expel the placenta after childbirth.
[image: sliced guava fruits]

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Canistel (egg fruit or yellow sapota)

This plant is grown for it's edible fruits which is relative to sapodilla.

The canistel fruits are shape nearly round, with a pointed apex, with 3 to 5 inch (7.5-12.5 cm) length, 2 to 3 inch (5-7.5 cm) width. The immature fruits are green skinned, hard and gummy internally and turn to lemon-yellow, golden-yellow or pale orange-yellow (color variation depends on cultivars) with smooth outside when fully mature.

The yellow flesh is immediately beneath the skin, which is mealy with a few fine fibers, in a mature fruit. The flesh is softer and more pasty toward the center of the fruit, with the texture similar to the yolk of a hard-boiled egg. The flavor of the flesh tastes sweet, more or less musky, and somewhat like a boiled sweet potato. Thu fruit contains about 1 to 4 hard, freestone seeds.

The fresh mature fruit can be eaten raw out of hand. The fruits are sometime eaten after added with salt, pepper and mayonnaise or lemon juice. Also these fruits are used as preparations like custards, pies and milk shakes.

Canistel fruits are rich in Vitamins A, B3, C; and contains 2.5% protein, 40% carbohydrates, with 2000 IU/100g of carotene contents.

Canistel fruits are cultivated mainly in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Central America, Taiwan, Vietnam and West Indies.
[image: sliced canistel fruit]

Monday, April 20, 2009

Nutmeg and Mace

This nutmeg plant is grown mainly for it's fruits; and two spices are derived from the fruits are, nutmeg and mace.

The nutmeg fruit is shape oval or pyriform about 2 inches long, colored mottled yellow, and consists of an outer fleshy husk with an inner seed. The husk splits when ripe, exposing the seed. Immediately surrounding the seed, a dried lacy membrane - a leathery in texture, the seed coat(aril of the fruit) is called as 'mace'. The seed kernel inside the fruit is called as 'nutmeg'.

Both nutmeg and mace are similar in taste. The nutmeg has a warm, spicy sweet flavor. The flavors of the nutmeg and mace is due to the volatile oils, present in both tissues. The oil of the nutmeg is obtained by crushing and pressing the seeds, and is called as nutmeg butter.

Nutmeg is usually associated with sweet and spicy dishes — pies, custards, puddings, spice cakes and cookies. It can be also added in soups such as tomatoes, slit pea, chicken or black beans. One whole nutmeg grated equals two to three teaspoons of grounded nutmeg.

The freshness and shelf storage life can be maintained longer if stored in an airtight container.

The first harvest will starts about 7-9 years after planting of the tree, but the trees takes up to 20 years to turn their full potential.

The nutmeg tree is native to the Moluccas and is now cultivated in the West Indies and especially in Grenada.
[image: nutmeg and mace]


This plant is grown mainly for it's edible fruits.

The pomegranate fruits are shape nearly round, crowned at the base by prominent calyx, which is surrounded by a tough, leathery rind - (skin of the fruit). The color of the rind vaies between cultivars as yellow, light or deep pink, or rich red. The segmented interior is separated by thin membranous walls and white spongy tissue. Each segments are packed with transparent sacs wich are filled with tart, flavorful, fleshy and juicy pulp(aril). The color of these sacs varies between cultivars as red, pink or white, and a white or red seed will be at the center of each sacs. These seeds itself represents almost 52 percentage of the total weight of the fruit.

Pomegranate fruits become mature(ripe) between 5 to 7 months after bloom, and the mature fruits has long shelf storage life as the apples.

These are table fruits and can be eaten raw. Generally the fruit is deeply scored three or four times vertically and then can be easily broken apart; now the clusters of juice sacs can be lifted out from the rind and eaten at hand.

The juice made from the fruit is a very popular beverage. Adding 7 1/2 cups of sugar and one bottle of liquid pectin for every four cups of pomegranate juice results pomegranate jelly. The juice is sometime used as sauce by making it as thick sirup. The juice is also made into grenadine for the use in mixed drinks. A spice also made by putting the juice-sacs into dry in the sun for about 10 to 15 days.

The pomegranate is native to Iran and the sorroundings of Himalayas in northern India; and are now being cultivated through out the world.

Medicinal uses:

A decoction is taken from the pomegranate flowers, are gargled to relieve oral and throat inflammation.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Palm sugar

Palm sugar is made from the sweet, watery sap which drips from the cut flower-buds of the palmyra palm or coconut palm. The palm sugar made from both palmyra palm and coconut palm are different.

Palm sugar made from palmyra palm are two types, as one will be in the form of a medium-hard blocks of brown-dark-colored, mostly available as rounded, cone shaped; and the other is a light-colored, hard, mostly available as cone-shaped or granules of crystalline sugar. The light colored palm sugar called in local names as 'panam karkandu', and the other called as 'karupetti'.

The light-colored, 'panam karkandu' palm sugar has the power to liquefy phlegm from the lungs. This palm sugar is dissolved in boiled concentrated milk and taken as remedy for sore throat.

Both variety of palm sugar is often used to sweeten savory food, candying, sweets and desserts.

Indian Sarsaparilla (Hemidesmus indicus)

The plant Indian Sarsaparilla is grown for it's root. The extract taken from the roots are the natural coolant and has a lot of medicinal qualities.

This medicinal plant is native to South Asia. The plant is a slender, laticiferous, twining shrub. The leaves are opposite, short-petioled, elliptic-oblong to linear-lanceolate. The roots are woody and aromatic. The inner part of the roots are white in color and the outer part is brown in color. The root has a pleasant odour with astringent taste.

Indian Sarsaparilla roots are mainly used to make beverages. An extract is prepared from its roots by means of steam distillation. It is then mixed with sugar or (palm sugar), water and citric acid proportionately to evolve a concentrate drink. Sugar is added, since to remove the astringent taste from it. These mixture acts as diaphoretic and also used as demulcent to relieve body pain. It keeps the body cool. Besides, Indian Sarsaparilla root is diuretic, as it tones up the urinary system and helps in preventing stone formation. It also controls tonsillitis.

It is also a component of several medicinal preparations in Ayurveda and administered in the form of powder, infusion or decoction as syrup.

local name: nannari
[image: the roots of Indian Sarsaparilla plant]

Jatropha (a biofuel plant)

Jatropha plants are grown for it's seeds which yields oil. The seeds are poisonous and are yields about 27-40% jatropha oil. Jatropha oil is generally being used as vegetable oil and to make soap and candles.

Jatropha oil can be processed further to produce a high-quality biodiesel (bio-fuel), which can be used in a standard diesel car and can be burned in almost any diesel engine with no modification. The residue of the oil is used as biomass feedstock to power electricity plants or used as fertilizer. A hectare of jatropha can produce about 1,892 litres of fuel.

Countries all over the world are demanding soloutions like this, since the impact of global warming becoming ever more apparent now a days.

The Indian Railways has started to use the oil (blended with diesel fuel in various ratios) to power its diesel engines with great success.

The 'Air New Zealand' has successfully completed a test flight, by using the mix of jatropha oil and Jet A1 in 50-50 ratio. ref: New "Second-Generation" Biofuel Passes Airliner Test

see an article from BBC, Could jatropha be a biofuel panacea?

tamil name: kadalazhi

Saturday, April 18, 2009


The rambutan fruit is shape ovoid or ellipsoid and size 1 1/3 to 3 1/8 inch (3.4 to 8 cm) long. Color varies between different cultivars as pinkish-red, bright-or deep-red, orange-red, maroon or dark-purple, yellowish-red, or all yellow or orange-yellow. A thin, hairy and leathery rind is covered the edible flesh. The flesh is colored white to rose-tinted, translucent, juicy, subacid or sweet, adhering to fairly the ovoid or oblong, with a small flattened seed at center.

The name of the fruit 'rambutan' comes from the Malay word, 'rambut' meaning hair; as the fruit sorrounded by hairy rind.

The fresh rambutan fruits can be eaten raw out-of-hand after tearing the rind open, or cutting it around the middle and pulling it out. The seeds are tastes bitter and reported poisonous if eaten raw, but are sometimes eaten after roasted, in the Philippines.

A decoction from the astringent bark is taken as a remedy for thrush. A decoction of the roots is taken as a medication that reduces fever.
[image: rambutan fruits at closer view]

Lotus and its secrets

Lotus is a perennial water plant, grown as ornamental and for its edible rhizomes (roots) and seeds. The rhizomes are rich in starch and when baked (after steeped in water to remove any bitterness) it becomes sweet and mealy, somewhat like a sweet potato. These starchy rhizomes are eaten boiled, roasted and fried as chips.

The fruit(torus) of the plant is an enlarged receptacle containing 8 to 15 embedded seeds. The young fresh green seeds can be eaten raw after the removal of the bitter embryo, and the hard ripe acorn-like black seeds can be eaten raw like nuts, boiled or roasted like chestnuts. They can be dried and ground into flour, which is used for making bread. In China the roasted seeds are sold like peanuts.

These seeds contains 19 percent protein content and an edible oil also can be extracted from it.

The lotus flowers are used for the production of perfume.

In India, honey made by bees visiting Lotus flowers is considered a tonic known as 'Padmammadjhu' and it is used to treat eye disorders. The rhizome extract showed anti-diabetic and anti-obesity attributes.
[image: edible seeds embedded in torus]

[image: the edible roots(rhizomes) of the plant]


Cassava (yuca or tapioca or manioc)

Cassava is grown for its edible starch-filled tuberous root. The cassava root is shape long and tapered, with a firm homogeneous flesh encased in a detachable rind, which is about 1 mm thick, and brown colored on the outside.

Cassava roots are a major source of carbohydrates with less protein, and are very rich in starch with calcium, phosphorus and vitamin C.

Cassava roots can be eaten after peeled and cooked in water, baked, or fried. Fresh roots are sliced and fried to make chips which are similar to potato chips. In south india cassava is a secondary staple food and is used in preparing variety of cuisines.

Dried roots are milled to produce cassava flour, which are mainly used for baking breads, crackers, pasta and pearls of tapioca. Cassava flour may be used sometime as partial substitute for wheat flour in making bread. Bread made wholly from cassava are useful to people whome with allergies to wheat flour. Alcoholic beverages also can be made from cassava roots.

Unpeeled roots are dried and grated for the use of livestock feed.

The shelf life of cassava roots are only a few days unless they receive special treatment or fermented. Removing the leaves from the plant two weeks before harvest, lengthens the shelf life up to two weeks.

Cassava are native to Brazil and Paraguay. Cassava is called by some other common or tropical names are yuca, tapioca, manioc and maracheeni.
[image: a south indian cuisine from cassava roots]

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pomelo or Pummelo (Bamplimas)

The Pomelo or Pummelo (Bamplimas) fruits are the largest size of all the citrus fruits, and are native to South East Asia and Malaysia. The shape of the fruit is nearly round to oblate or pear shaped, and the size vary between 4 to 12 inch (10-30 cm) in wide.

The peel colored greenish-yellow or pale-yellow, and thick about 1/2 to 3/4 inch (1.25-2 cm) with a soft albedo. The outer surface of the fruit is minutely hairy with green color dotted around.

The color of the edible pulp ranges from white or greenish-yellow or pale-yellow to pink or red varies between cultivars; is divided inside into 11 to 18 segments, are very juicy to fairly dry. Few yellowish-white seeds may presents inside of each segments.

The flavor varies from mildly sweet and bland to subacid. To eat edible juicy pulp, which presents inside the segments, peel the fresh pomelos and skin the segments carefully.
[image: sliced pomelo red fruit]

Medicinal uses

A hot decoction taken from the leaf are applied on swellings and ulcers.

The fruit juice is taken as a febrifuge.

In Brazil, a cough remedy is taken from a gum that exudes from declining trees.

Sesame (Sesamum indicum) - Ellu in tamil

Sesame plants grows upto 1 to 2 feet high, grown for their small, obovate and flattened seeds. The harvesting season of sesame seeds are about 4 to 5 months. Sesame seeds are mainly used in baking, candy making and are also extracted for oil. Sesame oil is generally used as salad oil and in other foods.

Sesame seeds are rich in manganese, copper, calcium, vitamin B1 and vitamin E. They contain lignans, including unique content of sesamin, which are phytoestrogens with antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. Sesame seeds are also contain phytosterols associated with reduced levels of blood cholesterol. The nutrients of sesame seeds are better absorbed if they are ground or pulverized before consumption.

Since the sesame oil contains an antioxidant called sesamol, sesame oil itself and the foods fried in sesame oil will have a long shelf life. The ancient Babylon would eat a mixture of honey and sesame seeds (the mixture is called as halva) to prolong youth and beauty. Sesame oil can be used as a substitute for Olive oil in making the liniments, ointments and plasters.

Sesame oil is used for massage and health treatments of the body in the ayurvedic medicine system. Ayurveda views sesame oil as the most viscous of the plant oils.

Sesame meal, which is left after the oil is pressed from the seed, is an excellent high-protein feed for poultry and livestock.
[image: sesame seeds]

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chrysophyllum cainito (Star Apple)

The fruit is round shape, purple-skinned and is often green around the calyx, with a star pattern in the pulp. The flesh pulp are sweet, soft, white, milky and surrounding the 6 to 11 gelatinous, somewhat rubbery, seed cells in the center.

The leaves of the tree are greeny upside and a shimmering gold velvety underside. When seen from a distance, the underside of the leaves shines with a golden color, and hence this tree has also got a name 'golden leaf tree'.

The matured fruit can be eaten fresh; they are sweet and best served chilled. The flesh pulp is usually spooned out as to avoid the bitter tasting of the rind and skin (the skin and rind itself constituting approximately 33% of the total fruit).

Matured fruits can be kept in good condition for 3 weeks at 37.4' F to 42.8' F (3' C to 6' C)

Chrysophyllum cainito are native to Central America and the West Indies.
[image: sliced greeny variety]

Medicinal uses

Infusions of the leaf is used against diabetes and articular rheumatism. A decoction of the rind, or of the leaves, is taken as a pectoral.

Annona muricata (Soursop or Annasi)

Annona muricata (Soursop) fruits are shape oval or irregular, about 10 to 30 cm long and up to 15 cm in width, colored dark-green, and the color turns to yellowish-green when mature. Fully matured fruit will be soft to the touch.

The inner surface of the fully matured fruit is cream-colored and granular, can be separated easily from the mass of snow-white, fibrous, juicy segments—much like flakes of raw fish—surrounding the central, soft-pithy core. The edible pulp has the aroma somewhat pineapple-like, but its musky, subacid to acid flavor is unique. In each fertile segment there is a single oval, shiny, hard, black seed; but some segment may seedless. Generally a large fruit may contain a few dozen to 200 or more seeds.

Annona muricata trees are native to the Caribbean and Central America, and now are widely cultivated throughout the world.
Add Image

Medicinal uses

The juice of the matured fruit is used as diuretic and a remedy for haematuria and urethritis.

The chewed leaves, mixed with saliva, are then applied to incisions after surgery, causing proud flesh to disappear without leaving a scar. The leaf decoction is lethal to bedbugs.

A decoction is taken from the pulverized immature fruits, are used as a dysentery remedy.

The roots of the tree are employed as a vermifuge and the root bark are used as an antidote for poisoning. The flowers are believed to alleviate catarrh.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Otaheite gooseberry

The otaheite gooseberry fruits are shape oblate with 6 to 8 ribs; size about 1 to 2.5 cm wide; colored green to pale-yellow and turns to dark yellow when mature. The fruit is waxy, fleshy, crisp, juicy and highly acid. About four to six seeds are embedded in the center of the hard stone which is in middle of the fruit.

The fresh fruit can be eaten raw after removing the hard stone in it. When cooked with sugar, the fruit changes color to ruby red and from which a jelly is made, which can be then salted.

When the sliced raw flesh covered with sugar and let stand in the refrigerator for a day. The sugar content draws out the juice and modifies the acidity, which make the flesh and juice become a sauce.

Otaheite gooseberry are native to Madagascar, and then it was spread long ago by humans throughout much of India, southeast Asia, and some Pacific islands.

Medicinal uses

In India, the fruits are taken as liver tonic, to enrich the blood. The sirup is prescribed as a stomachic; and the seeds are cathartic. The leaves, with added pepper, are poulticed on sciatica, lumbago or rheumatism.

A decoction of the leaves is given as a sudorific. Because of the mucilaginous nature of the leaves, they are taken as a demulcent in cases of gonorrhea.

The root is drastically purgative and regarded as toxic in Malaya but is boiled and the steam inhaled to relieve coughs and headache. The root infusion is taken in very small doses to alleviate asthma. Externally, the root is used to treat psoriasis of the soles of feet.

The juice of the root bark, which contains saponin, gallic acid, tannin and a crystalline substance which may be lupeol, has been employed in criminal poisoning.

The acrid latex of various parts of the tree is emetic and purgative.


Peppermint is a hybrid mint variety, which is a cross between the watermint and spearmint. It is naturalized from Europe; and now it is largely being cultivated in Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, and California. It is also called by other names like american mint, brandy mint, lamb mint, lammint.

There has been constant demand for the leaves and flowering tops, and are collected as soon as the flowers begin to open and then carefully dried. The main product derived from this herb is it's oil, which is produced by distillation of the cultivated herb; and is called as peppermint oil.

Peppermint has high in menthol content, and is often used as a flavouring in tea, ice cream, confectionery, chewing gum, and toothpaste. Peppermint is added in some shampoos and soaps, to give the hair a minty scent and to produce a cooling sensation on the skin.

Various medicinal uses and effects of peppermint oil are described in the following article,


The Passionfruits are generally with the shape round or ovoid, about 4 to 7.5 cm wide, with a tough rind, smooth, waxy, color ranging in hue from dark-purple with faint - fine white specks - light-yellow or pumpkin-color. Inside of the fruit is cavity which is filled with an aromatic mass of double-walled, membranous sacs filled with orange-colored, pulpy juice and as many as 250 small - hard - black - pitted seeds. The flavor is appealing, musky and similar to guava-like.

The pulp of the mature fruit can be eaten fresh, directly from the shell with a spoon or after a little sugar has been added. The most popular use of this fruit is preparing a refreshing drink, by blending the fruit pulp with ice, water, sugar, and a pinch of bicarbonate of soda. Passionfruits are high in vitamin A, potassium, and dietary fiber. The juice is an excellent source of vitamin C.

A sirup is prepared by boiling down the fruit, which is used in making sauce, gelatin desserts, candy, ice cream, sherbet, cake icing, cake filling, meringue or chiffon pie, cold fruit soup, or in cocktails. The seeded pulp can be made into jelly or they can be combined with pineapple/ tomato in making jam. The frozen juice can be kept about 1 year without deterioration if maintained at 0'F (-17.78'C), and is a very appealing product.

The oil prepared from the seeds of the Passionfruits, which is also similar to sunflower and soybean oil and accordingly has edible as well as industrial uses.

The rinds are chopped, dried, and combined with molasses as cattle or pig feed. They can also be converted into silage.

Passionfruits are considered in the pharmaceutical industries, in the use of the glycoside, passiflorine, and as a sedative or tranquilizer.
In Madeira, the passionfruits juice is given as a digestive stimulant and the treatment for gastric cancer.

Passionfruits are native to southern Brazil through Paraguay to northern Argentina and now being cultivated widely in New Zealand, the Caribbean, Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Hawaii, California, southern Florida, Australia, Israel, South Africa and East Africa.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Guarana fruits are about the size of a coffee berry. The color of guarana fruit's are ranges from brown to red and contains black seeds, and the seeds are partly covered by white arils. Guarana contains almost about twice the amount of caffeine found in coffee beans; and hence, these are considered as an effective energy booster.

Guarana is used mainly to produce soft drink. Guarana soft-drink and beverages may cause jitters-which is also associated with drinking coffee.