Sunday, May 19, 2013

Botanical Name; Aegle marmelos (L) Corr.

The Bale is an important and an underutilized fruit of Sri Lanka. It is also known as Beli, Eth beli, rata beli in Sinhala and Vilyam Palam in Tamil. Major growing areas include Wet and intermediate zones in the country. Bale fruits are mainly available in April to September. In the monsoon of bael, a lot of baels are found in Sri Lanka but most of them are spoiled due to the lack of preservation knowledge. Jam processing is one of the most economical methods for preservation of bael fruit pulp for longer time.

Bael Fruit


Scientific classification of Bale
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Order: Sapindales
  • Family: Rutaceae
  • Subfamily: Aurantioideae
  • Tribe: Clauseneae
  • Genus: Aegle CorrĂȘa
  • Species: A. marmelos
Value added products of Bale
  • Beli cream, beli juice, beli powder, candy
Medicinal Value

The Bale fruit is of considerable medicinal value when it just begins to ripen. The ripe fruit is aromatic, astringent, cooling and laxative. The unripe or half ripe fruit is astringent, stomatic (a drug that strengthens the stomach and promotes it action), antiscorbutic (a drug which prevents or cures scurvey), and digestive. The fruit is said to act as a tonic for heart and brain. It is best given in sub-acute or chronic cases of diarrhoea and dysentery and in irritation of the alimentary canal. Also Bales are mainly used in the treatment of constipation especially for older people. It is a useful adjunct in the after treatment of bacillary dysentry as it helps to remove constipation which hinders the healing of ulcerated surfaces of intestine. The ripe fruit is prescribed in intestinal disorders and certain terms of dyspepsia (indigestion), characterized by alternate constipation and diarrhea.

Bale fruit

The ripe fruit is eaten fresh. The ripe fruits are woody large, spherical up to 20 cm in diameter, oblong or pear shaped, with smooth or tuberculate surface. The peripheral part within the rind is fleshy and chambers are full of viscous, translucent pulp slightly sweet. The pulp diluted with water and added with requisite amount of sugar and tamarind forms of delicious cooling drink, commonly known as 'Sherbat' in India. The tender green fruit is utilized for making a preserve which occupies an important place in the food industry of the North India.

The fruit is rich in pectin but poor in acid and hence does not give a good jelly unless extra acid is added. Due to the presence of seeds and mucilage in the pulp, the ripe fruit cannot be eaten comfortably. Also due to the presence of oxidative enzymes, the pulp readily turns brown on exposure. To enhance its palatability and homogeneity, it is necessary to add water to the pulp (up to 50% of the pulp) and heat it up to 70°C with constant heat to kill the harmful germs. The mass is then sieved while hot to separate the seeds, mucilage and fiber and is cooled immediately to prevent loss of flavour. The pulp, thus obtained is smooth, uniform and can serve as a base for various food products, like bael fruit squash, jam, and fruit nectar, etc.

Dehydrated Bael Fruit


Seeds

The seeds yield oil (34.4% on dry weight basis). The fatty acid composition of the oil is as follows: palmitic 16.6; stearic 8.8%; Oleic 30.5%; linoleic 36.0%; and linolenic 8.1%.

Nutritional Value of Bale

Nutritive value of Bale per 100 g edible portion


The bael fruit pulp contains many functional and bioactive compounds such as carotenoids, phenolics, alkaloids, coumarins, flavonoids, terpenoids, and other antioxidants which may protect us against chronic diseases. In addition, many researchers reported that it also contains many vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, and phosphorus. There are innumerable references of its uses in traditional medicine. There are many trace elements in the body that directly or indirectly participate in metabolism and play an essential role in it. More than 25% of the enzymes in the body require metals for activation and to function properly in metabolism. Of these metals, iron, magnesium, and zinc have been identified as helping to improve cognitive functions in school children.

Why are they unique?
In Sri Lanka, Bale is naturally grown and no special care is taken for this fruit. A good quality value added product can be produced from Bale. As the fruit has some special religious, medicinal, social and nutritive value, it is assumed that it could fetch a good monetary value from the consumers. 

Potential for Bael fruit processing industry

Bael fruit processing industry in Sri Lanka is not developed. However, Bael can be used to produce different value added products such as bael powder, cordial, leather, jam and flour. These value added products can be produced by either cottage level or large scale level. In addition to that research and development activities should initiate to identify maturity index , storage methods, environmental and consumer friendly ripening methods, development of value added products with enhanced shelf life and preserve nutritional quality etc.

Reference
  • Tropical fruits of Sri Lanka, Department of Agriculture, Sri Lanka

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