The wood apple is a strange looking kind of fruit, and is a little less known worldwide. Other names for wood apple fruit are monkey fruit, curd fruit, kath bel and other dialectal names. In some parts of the world, this fruit is called elephant apple because it is a favorite food of elephants. In Ayurvedic medicine, Wood apples are cooling, purifying fruits, believed to help stimulate digestion and cleanse the liver and kidneys.
Wood apple is Limonia acidissima, the only species within the monotypicgenus Limonia. It is native to India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka for their unique flavor and purifying properties. The species has also been introduce to Indochina and Malesia. Another species of this fruits Aegle marmelos (bhel fruits) are consider auspicious as a offering to Lord Shiva and Ganesha in rituals. The hard exterior is why these both fruits has been called a wood apple. However, they look similar but both can have different textures, fragrances, and tastes.
Wood apple has a very hard rind which can be difficult to crack open, and thus must be crack with a hammer. It appears greenish-brown in colour from outside and contains sticky brown pulp and small white seeds. Wood apple pulp has a sour, funky taste that is delicious with a touch of sugar in desserts, or alternatively, with warm spices for savoury dishes. Whereas Bael fruit is a round or oval fruit that may have a thin, hard, woody shell or a gray-green rind that turns more yellow when ripe.
Eat the raw scoop-out pulp, though sticky, with or without sugar, or is then blend with coconut milk and palm-sugar sirup and use as a beverage, or frozen as an ice cream. Ripe fruit can be use as pickle (mashed with green chili pepper, sugar and salt only). It is also use in chutneys and for making jelly and jam. The jelly is purple and much like that made from black currants.
Wood apple contains considerable amount of protein, carbohydrate, iron, fat, calcium, Vit-B & C etc. 100 g of ripe fruit pulp contains up to 49 KCal. The fruit is consider highly effective against sunstroke and other health issues related to the summer season. In Sri Lanka, locals make wood apple juice by adding sugar and coconut milk to the strained pulp. The resulting juice is tart, sweet and creamy, and is a refreshing street food option that’s popular in the summertime.
The fruit is much used in India as a liver and cardiac tonic, and, when unripe, as an astringent means of halting diarrhea and dysentery and effective treatment for hiccough, sore throat and diseases of the gums. The pulp is poulticed onto bites and stings of venomous insects, as is the powdered rind. Wood apples are an excellent source of beta-carotene, and convert into vitamin A in the body to help improve skin complexion and protect against vision loss.
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