Wood apples (Limonia acidissima) are native to India, parts of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The history of wood apple is slightly blurry because it’s often referenced as “bael,” which may also be a similar fruit, Aegle marmelos.
Wood apple grows in abundance throughout India’s drier regions and is cultivated along both peninsulas of the country. Along with arid conditions, the fruit requires monsoons to thrive. Wood apples grow along the plains in the north, south, east and central areas of India. Wood apple season is October through March. In these months, the fruit is easily found for those seeking its tangy, musky flesh.
As wood apples ripen, they go from a greenish white color to developing a tough, brown speckled wooden shell that looks and feels similar to tree bark.
To gauge the fruit’s edibility, give it the “bounce test” by dropping the wood apple on a hard surface—if it bounces, it’s not yet ripe. If it merely falls to the ground with a soft thud, it’s ready to eat. Ripe fruits also emit a sugary yet musky aroma.
The pulp of unripe wood apple is a pale gold color. Ideal, fully ripe wood apples are light brown to a toffee brown color.
Wood apple’s texture and taste are quite similar to tamarind. Its flavor is sweet, pungent, lemony and acidic with a pleasantly fermented aftertaste. Some do not care for the taste, as the fermented notes may be interpreted as distasteful putridity and muskiness. Though perhaps a bizarre descriptor, its texture resembles wet marzipan—slightly granular and mealy, yet damp and sticky. Of the two types of fruit, the small wood apples taste significantly more tart and sour than the large ones.
Parts of the fibrous strings encasing the fruit sometimes become part of the spoonful, but these do not detract greatly from the pulp’s taste or texture. The numerous tiny hard seeds require no spitting or removal.
The video below is one way to consume the fruit. Try it and you will love it!
In the movie (Aysha Afifa & Rehan)
According to the National Institute of Nutrition’s book, “Nutritive Value of Indian Foods,” wood apples contain the following values per 100g:
3mg Vitamin C
Wood apple (Bel fruit, villa palam) has great medicinal value for those who consume it.
Good for Digestion: Bel fruit is great for digestion because it helps to destroy worms in the intestine, and is a good remedy for digestive disorders. It is also recommended as a remedy for chronic dysentery. The trunk and branches of bel trees contain a gum-like substance called ‘Feronia gum’. This is commonly used to curing diarrhea and dysentery. Bel fruit is also recommended for people with peptic ulcer or piles since bel leaves contain tannin, which is known to reduce inflammation. The laxative property of wood apple also helps to avoid constipation and the subsequent, pain, discomfort and associated health risks of that condition. This, combined with the anti fungal and antiparisitic activities, make bel fruit ideal for increasing digestive health.
Blood Cleanser: As little as 50 mg of bel fruit juice mixed with warm water and sugar is recommended for blood purification and the removal of toxins that can cause extensive damage to the body. This reduces the strain on the liver and kidneys, which are the normal lines of defense against toxins.
Effective for Ear Aches: The root of the bel tree is integral in the management and treatment of ear conditions and pain.
Prevention of Scurvy: Deficiency of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) causes scurvy. Since Bel fruit is rich in vitamin C, it can guarantees that you do not develop scurvy, a potentially life-threatening condition. This high level of vitamin C also increases the strength and potency of the immune system, thereby protecting people who consume wood apples from a variety of microbial and viral infections.
Good for Diabetic Patients: The ‘Feronia gum’, contained in the trunk and branches of the bel tree, counteracts diabetes by reducing the severity of the condition and helps to manage the flow, secretion, and balance of sugars in the bloodstream. By managing the insulin and glucose levels, it is possible to prevent the spikes and plunges that can be so dangerous to diabetics.
Relief from Respiratory Problems: Leaves of the Bel fruit tree help people avoid chronic or recurring colds and related respiratory conditions. They also help in curing sore throat and treating chronic cough due to its function as an expectorant. It loosens phlegm and helps eliminate the buildup in the respiratory system.
Energy Booster: One hundred grams of Bel fruit pulp provides 140 calories, and the nutrients found in that amount boost organ activity and metabolic speed. This all results in additional energy and reserves in the body. The high protein content also means that the body can heal faster and the muscles can grow stronger, further boosting energy reserves.
Good for Kidney Conditions: Regular consumption of wood apple is recommended for people with kidney complaints. Considering the detoxifying powers of wood apples, the kidney and liver can be protected if the correct organic compounds from wood apples are kept at healthy levels.
Liver Health: As a good source of beta-carotene, wood apples also cure liver problems. They contain thiamine and riboflavin, both of which are known as liver health boosters, this fruit also functions as an ingredient in cardiac tonics.
Cure Snakebites: In Ayurvedic treatments, all parts of the wood apple plant are used to cure snakebites.
Protection Against Malaria: The pulp of bel fruit trees has also been used as a cosmetic component by women in Thai-Myanmar border area. This area is also frequently affected by dengue and malaria, but research studies have suggested that by applying the mixture of this pulp and repellents on the skin of pregnant women may be beneficial in protecting them against malaria.
Apart from the warming sensation upon application of this mix, the repellents are neutral and non-irritating. However, studies are underway to ascertain the mechanisms behind the benefits of this mixture on malaria.
Source: http://theindianvegan.blogspot.ae/, https://www.organicfacts.net/
Woodapple — increases appetite and reduces poison, by Namini Wijedasa
Woodapple (Limonia acidissima) is common in Sri Lanka but uncommon enough around the world for there to be barely anything about it’s medicinal values on the internet. According to Dr. Lakshmi Senaratne, chief scientist (Ayurveda) of the Bandaranaike Memorial Ayurveda Research Institute, the leaves, bark of stem, flowers, fruits and gum are used as medicine.
The raw fruit is not good for the throat, Senaratne said. “Although it kills poison, it causes a sore throat, often leads to constipation and increases vatha.” But the raw fruit is given for diarrhoea. Another effective remedy for diarrhoea is the gum with bee’s honey.
The ripe variety, however, is recommended for a variety of illnesses and general well being. It increases appetite and reduces poison. “We often administer the juice of the ripe fruit after a rat bite,” Senaratne said. “The victim should take it for about a week. It reduces the poison.” For poison reduction, the juice of the ripe fruit with either coconut milk or cow’s milk is recommended.
The ripe fruit heals ulcers, reduces pitta and does not increase kapha. Senaratne also claimed that, taken over a prolonged period of time, it reduces the effects on the body of ageing.
Woodapple is heavy to digest and is cooling. The fruit contains citric acid but though it is sour, it is good for gastric patients. The raw fruit is sometimes dried in the shade and used instead of lime because of its sour taste.
Meanwhile, the juice of the leaf is good for abdominal pain in children. The seeds and the gum are used in treatment of diabetes. A decoction of the bark is effective for uterine disorders.
Woodapple is good for anorexic patients. It helps quench thirst and is used in abdominal distention and dysentery. Even for those passing blood with stools and excessive bleeding during menstruation, take the woodapple drink. For the last ailment, the leaf juice is also recommended.
The leaf juice is said to increase vision and is rubbed on the head before bathing. The same reduces dandruff, head lice and promotes hair growth. It can be applied often but is cooling. “Head lice drop off due to the effect of the leaves,” Senaratne explained.
For oedema, make a bundle of leaves and foment. For anorexia and loss of appetite take woodapple, ginger, pepper and tippili (Piper longum) with bee’s honey. For vomiting, take woodapple juice with tippili and bee’s honey. For vomiting due to vitiated kapha (phlegm), take woodapple, ginger, pepper and tippili.
For haemorrhoids, take woodapple and beli juice drink.
For bleeding from the nose, fry the raw fruit and eat with ghee.
For hiccups, take ripe fruit juice with bee’s honey and tippili. Another good remedy is to burn the leaf powder and to inhale the fumes.
For polyurea (excessive urine), take raw fruit powder with bee’s honey. For leucoderma, take a bark decoction.
Women with excessive vaginal discharge should eat the ripe fruit often, Senaratne said.