Nut of the Week – Pili Nuts

March 12, 2012 at 8:58 AM | Posted in diabetes, nuts | Leave a comment
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Pili Nuts

Canarium ovatum, commonly known as pili (play /piːliː/ pee-LEE), is a species of tropical tree belonging to the genus Canarium. It is one of approximately 600 species in the family Burseraceae. Pili are native to maritime Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea, and Northern Australia.

Unshelled pili nuts

Unshelled pili nuts

They are commercially cultivated in the Philippines for their edible nuts.

The pili tree is an attractive symmetrically shaped evergreen, averaging 20 m (66 ft) tall with resinous wood and resistance to strong winds. It is dioecious, with flowers borne on cymose inflorescence at the leaf axils of young shoots. As in papaya and rambutan, functional hermaphrodites exist in pili. Pollination is by insects. Flowering of pili is frequent and fruits ripen through a prolonged period of time. The ovary contains three locules, each with two ovules, most of the time only one ovule develops (Chandler 1958).

The pili fruit is a drupe, 4 to 7 cm (1.6 to 2.8 in) long, 2.3 to 3.8 cm (0.91 to 1.5 in) in diameter, and weighs 15.7 to 45.7 g (0.035 to 0.101 lb). The skin (exocarp) is smooth, thin, shiny, and turns purplish black when the fruit ripens; the pulp (mesocarp) is fibrous, fleshy, and greenish yellow in color, and the hard shell (endocarp) within protects a normally dicotyledonous embryo. The basal end of the shell (endocarp) is pointed and the apical end is more or less blunt; between the seed and the hard shell (endocarp) is a thin, brownish, fibrous seed coat developed from the inner layer of the endocarp. This thin coat usually adheres tightly to the shell and/or the seed. Much of the kernel weight is made up of the cotyledons, which are about 4.1 to 16.6% of the whole fruit; it is composed of approximately 8% carbohydrate, 11.5 to 13.9% protein, and 70% fat. Kernels from some trees may be bitter, fibrous or have a turpentine odor.

Pili is native to Malesia, a biogeographical region which includes maritime Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines), Papua New Guinea, and Northern Australia.

Pili is a tropical tree preferring deep, fertile, well drained soil, warm temperatures, and well distributed rainfall. It can not tolerate the slightest frost or low temperature. Refrigeration of seeds at 4 to 13 °C (39 to 55 °F) resulted in loss of viability after 5 days. Seed germination is highly recalcitrant, reduced from 98 to 19% after 12 weeks of storage at room temperature; seeds stored for more than 137 days did not germinate. Asexual propagations using marcotting, budding, and grafting were too inconsistent to be used in commercial production. Young shoots of pili were believed to have functional internal phloems, which rendered bark ringing ineffective as a way of building up carbohydrate levels in the wood. Success in marcottage may be cultivar dependent. Production standards for a mature pili tree is between 100 to 150 kg (220 to 330 lb) of in-shell nut with the harvest season from May to October and peaking between June and August. There are high variations in kernel qualities and production between seedling trees.

Most pili kernels tend to stick to the shell when fresh, but come off easily after being dried to 3 to 5% moisture (30 °C (86 °F) for 27 to 28 h). Shelled nuts, with a moisture content of 2.5 to 4.6%, can be stored in the shade for one year without deterioration of quality (Coronel et al. 1983).

Although they are grown as ornamental trees in many areas of the Old World tropics of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, only the Philippines produces and processes pili nuts commercially. Production centers are located in the Bicol region, provinces of Sorsogon, Albay, and Camarines Sur, southern Tagalog, and eastern Visaya. There is no commercial planting of this crop, fruits are collected from natural stands in the mountains near these provinces. In 1977, the Philippines exported approximately 3.8 t of pili preparation to Guam and Australia.

The most important product from pili is the kernel. When raw, it resembles the flavor of roasted pumpkin seed, and when roasted, its mild, nutty flavor and tender-crispy texture is superior to that of the almond. In Indonesia, epecially in Minahasa and Moluccas islands, the kernels are used for making cake, bobengka in Minahasan or bubengka in Maluku. Pili kernel is also used in chocolate, ice cream, and baked goods. The largest buyers of pili nuts are in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the kernel is one of the major ingredients in one type of the famous Chinese festive desserts known as the “moon cake”.

Nutritionally, the kernel is high in calcium, phosphorus, and potassium, and rich in fats and protein. It yields a light yellowish oil, mainly of glycerides of oleic (44.4 to 59.6%) and palmitic acids (32.6 to 38.2%).

The young shoots and the fruit pulp are edible. The shoots are used in salads, and the pulp is eaten after it is boiled and seasoned. Boiled pili pulp resembles the sweet potato in texture, it is oily (about 12%) and is considered to have food value similar to the avocado. Pulp oil can be extracted and used for cooking or as a substitute for cotton seed oil in the manufacture of soap and edible products. The stony shells are excellent as fuel or as porous, inert growth medium for orchids and anthurium.

Fruit of the Week – Jackfruit

December 20, 2011 at 12:04 PM | Posted in baking, diabetes, Food, fruits | 1 Comment
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The jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is a species of tree in the Artocarpus genus of the mulberry family (Moraceae). It is native

Jackfruit tree with fruit

to parts of Southern and Southeast Asia. Jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh, and is known as “kathal.” The jackfruit tree is believed to be indigenous to the southwestern rain forests of India. It is widely cultivated in tropical regions of the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia. Jackfruit is also found in East Africa, e.g., in Uganda and Mauritius, as well as throughout Brazil and Caribbean nations like Jamaica. It is well suited to tropical lowlands, and its fruit is the largest tree-born fruit, reaching as much as 80 pounds (36 kg) in weight and up to 36 inches (90 cm) long and 20 inches (50 cm) in diameter.

The common English name jackfruit is a name used by the physician and naturalist Garcia de Orta in his 1563 book Colóquios dos simples e drogas da India. A botanist, Ralph Randles Stewart suggests that it was named after William Jack (1795–1822), a Scottish botanist who worked for the East India Company in Bengal, Sumatra and Malaysia. This is apocryphal as the fruit was called a “Jack” in English before William Jack was born: for instance, in Dampier’s 1699 book, A new voyage round the world.

The jackfruit has played a significant role in Indian agriculture for centuries. Archeological findings in India have revealed that jackfruit was cultivated in India 3000 to 6000 years ago[citation needed]. Varahamihira, the Indian astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer, mentioned jackfruit trees in his Brhat Samhita.. His treatise includes a specific reference on grafting to be performed on trees such as jackfruit. Maturing in 35–40 years, their wood can be used for furniture. The gum from this tree is used to repair small holes in pots. In Kerala (India), Jackfruit trees support the Black Pepper vine, which is a climber. Thus, the trunks of jackfruit trees of Kerala are usually covered with the dark green leaves of the pepper vine cultivated by the farmers.

The jackfruit is considered an invasive species in Brazil, especially in the Tijuca Forest National Park in Rio de Janeiro. The Tijuca forest is mostly an artificial secondary forest, whose planting began during the mid-nineteenth century, and jackfruit trees have been a part of the park’s flora since its founding. Recently, the species expanded excessively, due to the fact that its fruits, once they had naturally fallen to the ground and opened, were eagerly eaten by small mammals such as the common marmoset and the coati. The seeds are dispersed by these animals, which allows the jackfruit to compete for space with native tree-species. Additionally, as the marmoset and coati also prey opportunistically on bird’s eggs and nestlings, the supply of jackfruit as a ready source of food has allowed them to expand their populations, to the detriment of the local bird population. Between 2002 and 2007, 55,662 jackfruit saplings were destroyed in the Tijuca Forest area in a deliberate culling effort by the park’s management.

Outside of its countries of origin, fresh jackfruit can be found at Asian food markets, especially in the Philippines. It is also extensively cultivated in the Brazilian coastal region, where it is sold in local markets. It is available canned in sugar syrup, or frozen. Dried jackfruit chips are produced by various manufacturers. In northern Australia, particularly in Darwin, Australia, jackfruit can be found at outdoor produce markets during the dry season. Outside of countries where it is grown, jackfruit can be obtained year-round both canned or dried. It has a ripening season in Asia of late Spring to late Summer.

The flesh of the jackfruit is starchy, fibrous and is a source of dietary fiber. The flavor is similar to a tart banana. Varieties of jackfruit

Jackfruit opened

are distinguished according to the characteristics of the fruits’ flesh. In Brazil, three varieties are recognized. These are: jaca-dura, or “hard” variety, which has firm flesh and the largest fruits that can weigh between 15 and 40 kilograms each; jaca-mole, or “soft” variety, which bears smaller fruits, with softer and sweeter flesh; and jaca-manteiga, or “butter” variety, which bears sweet fruits, whose flesh has a consistency intermediate between the “hard” and “soft” varieties.

In Kerala, two varieties of jackfruit predominate: varikka and kuzha. Varikka has slightly hard inner flesh when ripe, while the inner flesh of the ripe kuzha fruit is very soft and almost dissolving. A sweet preparation called Chakka Varattiyathu is made by seasoning the Varikka fruit flesh pieces in jaggery, which can be preserved and used for many months. Huge jackfruits up to 4 feet in length with matching girth are sometimes seen in Kerala. In Mangalore, Karnataka the varieties are called bakke and imba. The pulp of the imba jackruit is ground and is made into a paste. It is then spread over a mat and is allowed to dry in the sun to create a natural chewy candy.

Jackfruit is commonly used in South and Southeast Asian cuisines. It can be eaten unripe (young) when cooked, or ripe uncooked. The seeds may be boiled or baked like beans. The leaves are used as a wrapping for steamed idlis.

The young fruit is called Polos in Sri Lanka. It is a dish with spices to replace meat curries in Sri Lankan and eastern-Indian (Bengali) cuisine. The skin of unripe (young) jack fruit must be pared first and discarded and then the whole fruit can be chopped into edible portions and cooked to be eaten. The raw young fruit is not edible. Young jackfruit has a mild flavour and distinctive poultry-like texture. The cuisines of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Vietnam use cooked young jackfruit. In Indonesia, young jackfruit is cooked with coconut milk as gudeg. In many cultures, jackfruit is boiled and used in curries as a staple food. In the Philippines it is cooked with coconut milk (Ginataang langka)

Ripe jackfruit is naturally sweet with subtle flavouring. It can be used to make a variety of dishes including custards, cakes, halo-halo and more. Ripe jackfruit arils are sometimes seeded, fried or freeze-dried and sold as jackfruit chips.

Illustration of the size of jackfruit.

Seeds from ripe fruits are edible and are prepared by boiling in salted water for about 25 minutes. They have a milky, sweet taste. In many parts of India, roasted salted seed is also eaten and considered a delicacy.

The wood of the tree is used for the production of musical instruments. In Indonesia it forms part of the gamelan and in the Philippines, its soft wood is made into the hull of a kutiyapi, a type of Philippine boat lute. It is also used to make the body of the Indian string instrument Veena and the drums Mridangam and Kanjira, the Golden yellow coloured timber with good grains is used for building furniture and house construction in India. The ornated wooden plank called Avani Palaka made of the wood of Jackfruit tree is used as the priest’s seat during Hindu ceremonies in Kerala.

Jackfruit wood is widely used in the manufacture of furniture, doors and windows, and in roof construction. The heartwood of the jackfruit tree is used by Buddhist forest monastics in Southeast Asia as a dye, giving the robes of the monks in those traditions their distinctive light brown color.

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