Refreshing and nutritious: antioxidant-rich ready to serve bael juice – perfect for a healthy lifestyle

Bael fruit

The demand for processed tropical fruit products is on the rise in both domestic and international markets. However, the number of commercially processed fruits is limited to fewer than 15. Because these fruits are seasonal and perishable, their surpluses in different regions often go to waste due to inadequate handling, distribution, marketing, and storage facilities. This results in postharvest losses of around 30-35%, according to the National Horticultural Board. To minimize these losses, excess fruits require immediate processing into value-added products. Fruit beverages are a popular processed food product that appeals to all age groups and can help meet the daily nutrient requirements of a healthy diet. The bael fruit is gaining importance in functional food production and has economic significance. Although the pulp is typically consumed fresh, the juice extracted from bael fruit is rich in bioactive compounds, such as carotenoids, phenols, alkaloids, coumarins, flavonoids, terpenoids, and other antioxidants.

Therefore, in order to promote the health benefits of bael fruit and develop new value-added products a study was undertaken at ICAR-IIHR to optimize the process conditions for the preparation of a Ready-To-Serve (RTS) beverage made from bael fruit and to evaluate the physicochemical and sensory characteristics during storage. A range of pulp and sugar concentrations, including 10%, 15%, and 20% pulp and 10ºB and 15ºB TSS, were used to develop the RTS beverage. The formulation with 15% pulp and 15ºB was found to be the best, with a pH of 3.23, acidity of 0.38%, ascorbic acid content of 37.60 mg/100g, total sugar content of 23.54%, and total antioxidant activity of 84.52 mg AEAC/100ml. This combination also had the highest overall acceptability (7.7) on a 9-point Hedonic scale, along with high ratings for color (7.60), flavor (7.30), taste (7.6), and body (7.10). Overall, there is significant potential for the commercialization of bael fruit, and with the right investments and support, the bael tree can be uplifted from an underutilized crop to a profitable commercial crop.

Bael fruit RTS beverage

Further Reading:

Authors: Udayakumar K.P, Kanupriya Chaturvedi, Swamy G.S.K, Anuradha Sane, Pritee Singh and Suresh G.J., ICAR-IIHR, Bengaluru

Cite this article as: Udayakumar K.P, Kanupriya Chaturvedi, Swamy G.S.K, Anuradha Sane, Pritee Singh and Suresh G.J. , “Refreshing and nutritious:  antioxidant-rich ready to serve bael juice – perfect for a healthy lifestyle,” in National Horticulture Fair 2023, Feb. 22-25, 2023.

Kokum: A potential source of hydroxycitric acid, anthocyanin, and phenolic compounds

Image Source: University of Queensland

Kokum (Garcinia indica), is a medicinally important, underexploited tree species that is native to the Western Ghats of India. The fruits of Garcinia indica are globose or spherical in shape, dark purple in color in ripened stage with myriad health-promoting properties. Ayurveda, it has antidiabetic, anthelmintic, cardiotonic, and antiobesity properties. They are also useful in piles, dysentery, tumor, pain, and heart ailments. The dried rind of Garcinia indica is traditionally used as a culinary spice to provide a sour taste to food and is also widely used for the preparation of welcome drinks. The savory taste of the fruit is imparted by a major organic acid component called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which is a potential anti-obesity agent and widely used in anti-obesity medicines.

 The purple color of the Garcinia indica fruit rind is mainly due to anthocyanin. Anthocyanin pigments are responsible for the red, blue, and purple colors of many fruits, vegetables, flowers, and cereal grains. Anthocyanin is considered a potential replacement for synthetic colors because of their brightness and water solubility, which allows their easy incorporation into aqueous food systems. There is a huge demand for natural food colorants and anthocyanin can be a potent alternative to synthetic dyes which takes care of consumer concerns over the use of synthetic additives. With the increasing interest in natural and biologically active compounds as a substitute for synthetic chemicals in the food industry, anthocyanin offers a particularly attractive option.

Apart from anthocyanin, Garcinia indica also contains other phenolic compounds like phenolic acid and flavonoids and could serve as natural sources for these compounds. These bioactive phenolic compounds have a wide range of biological activities: antioxidant, anti-microbial, antityrosinase,  anticholinesterase, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancerous, antihyperglycemic/antidiabetic, and antinociceptive activities which ensure enormous role as a natural food preservative, cosmetics and curing and preventing many diseases.

Indigenous fruits and vegetables are a major source of nutrition and exploration of them as natural plant-based raw materials for use in the food and pharmaceutical industry has received the attention of researchers. In the present study, principal bioactive compounds present in the 6 accessions of G. indica, an edible fruit of medicinal value, were investigated using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). This information about the bioactive compounds would help in the effective utilization of Garcinia indica fruit as nutraceuticals in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

The fruits were particularly rich in hydroxycitric acid (15.60%–22.92%), which makes them a suitable candidate for weight-loss supplements. The fruit rinds of G. cambogia is a prime natural source of HCA (10-30%) for commercial extraction. The extent of HCA  in G. indica “Vengrula”  was found to be comparable to G. cambogia, thus it could also be used as a source of HCA for commercial extraction.

Anthocyanin yield is a very important quality parameter as well as a key attribute from the industrial point of view. As pigments, they are almost exclusively responsible for the red color in fruits. In the present study, all the accessions showed very high anthocyanin content (4.47–7.08 mg g−1), a value much higher than that recorded for the majority of fruits and vegetables, which makes the fruit a good source of natural colour. Thirty phenolic compounds were successfully separated, identified, and quantified; these included para and ortho coumaric acid, naringenin, and apigenin. These compounds are known to be natural preservatives and anti-browning and therapeutic agents. Two-way hierarchal cluster analysis was performed and six accessions fell into two clusters: one comprised G. indica “Red” and “IIHR-2”, both rich in total phenols and with high antioxidant potential, whereas the other comprised accessions were low in total phenols and with poor antioxidant potential, namely G. indica “Local”, “Amruth Kokum”, “Vengurla”, and “IIHR-1”, although G. indica “Local” and “Vengurla” were rich in HCA. Heat map enabled easy depiction of the variability of analyzing parameters among the accessions. For example, G. indica “IIHR-2” found to be the richest source of anthocyanin, coumaric acid, naringenin, and apigenin which was clearly visible in the heat map. Two-way hierarchal clustering and a heat map helped in choosing the best accessions with optimal quality parameters. Overall, the present study highlights G. indica as a rich, new, and sustainable source of bioactive substances with food, pharmaceutical, and other industrial applications.

Further Reading:

Authors: Pritee Singh and C. Kanupriya, ICAR-IIHR, Bengaluru

Dragon fruit/Kamalam RTS beverage: A soothing and a sparkling drink

The ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research has developed a technology for the preparation of Ready-to-Serve (RTS) beverages from dragon fruit. Dragon fruit which is commonly called pitaya/kamalam belongs to the family Cactaceae. Both the red-pulped (Hylocereus polyrhizus) and white-pulped (Hylocereus undatus) fruits are grown in Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, China, etc. In India, the dragon fruit is cultivated on around 3,000 hectares. With rising demand for this fruit, the GOI is targeting to expand its cultivation to 50,000 hectares in five years. Currently, the fruits are sold at Rs 150-200/kg in the market and primarily it is consumed as table fruit, as salad, and as fresh juice in juice shops and restaurants. This fruit is a good source of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, betalains, and antioxidants, which are known for reducing the risk of developing many non-communicable diseases. In India, currently, no ready-to-serve (RTS) beverage from dragon fruit in packaged form is available commercially even on e-platforms. Further, the tiny seeds and the nature of its pulp, which is not like any other fruit make it very difficult to prepare a RTS beverage. Therefore, ICAR-IIHR has developed a RTS from dragon fruit using a method where the seeds and the mucilage have been removed but with the retention of its exotic color and taste. Not only it has a good appearance, but it is also filled with vitamin C, polyphenols, and a red color natural pigment called betalains. The developed RTS will provide consumers with a soothing lighter taste bright pink colored dragon fruit beverage. This beverage has a shelf life of six months under ambient conditions. No synthetic flavor or color has been used. One can really relish the unique taste of this fruit in the form of a beverage now.

Source: Dr. Pushpa Chethan Kumar, Senior Scientist, ICAR-IIHR, Bengaluru

Tamarind for rural livelihood and nutritional security

Tamarind is an important source of food for rural communities. Tamarind pulp is commonly used in cooking, and it adds a sour and tangy taste to dishes. This fruit is also rich in nutrients, such as vitamins B and C, and minerals like calcium and iron, which are essential for maintaining good health. Additionally, tamarind seeds can be roasted and eaten as a snack or ground into flour and used to make bread. Tamarind is used in traditional medicine to treat a wide range of ailments. The bark, leaves, and fruit of the tamarind tree contain various medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant effects. This tree is also a significant source of income for many rural communities. The fruit and its products are in high demand in many industries, such as food, cosmetics, and medicine. Rural communities can sell tamarind products, such as tamarind paste, tamarind juice, and tamarind candy, to local markets or export them to other regions. Tamarind processing is a labor-intensive industry that creates jobs and employment opportunities for many people in rural areas. Furthermore, the cultivation of tamarind has several benefits for the environment. Tamarind trees are well adapted to drought and can grow in various soil types, making them ideal for reforestation projects in arid regions. Tamarind trees also improve soil fertility, prevent soil erosion, and provide shade, which benefits other crops and wildlife.

In light of the growing significance of the crop, the aim was to pinpoint superior-quality trees with high pulp recovery. To accomplish this, a survey was conducted in the Tumkur district of Karnataka to assess the variability of tree and pod characteristics and to identify elite trees based on their horticultural traits. Samples were gathered from the region and analyzed at the ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticulture Research in Bengaluru, leading to the identification of an elite tamarind variety “Lakshamana,” with broad pods exhibiting good pulp color and recovery. This variety had a higher yield and pod characteristics, with an average annual yield of 251.4 kg/tree compared to 165.0 kg/tree in local trees over a 4-year period from 2016 to 2020. Additionally, this elite tree demonstrated a high pulp recovery of 43% compared to local tamarind trees, which exhibited 28% pulp recovery and had nutritional traits such as total acidity and total sugar of 20% and 29.78%, respectively. The compact and spreading form of the tree structure was found to be advantageous for harvesting the pods.

Lakshamana farmer’s variety of tamarind

For further reading:

Authors: Kanupriya C, Karunakaran G and Pritee Singh, ICAR-IIHR, Hesaraghatta, Bengaluru

Harnessing the power of native bees in polyhouse farming

Indian honey bee foraging on cucumber

The ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (ICAR-IIHR), Bengaluru has developed a protocol for using two native bee species, the Indian honeybee (Apis cerana) and the stingless bee (Tetragonula iridipennis), to pollinate cucurbit vegetables like muskmelon, ridge gourd, and cucumber in polyhouses. This technology helps to overcome the pollination problem of cross-pollinated vegetables under polyhouse without the need for laborious and time-consuming hand pollination. In Eurpose and other temperate countries, bumblebees are used for polyhouse pollination. But these species are not present in India and a biodiversity point of view, import of exotic species is not desirable.

The technology involves placing a honeybee hive or two hives of stingless bees at the border of the polyhouse, with the main entrance facing inside the polyhouse and other exits provided for the bees to move in either direction. The hives are placed when the crops are about to flower. The native bee species forage efficiently on the flowers of the cucurbit vegetables, visiting both male and female flowers and effecting pollen transfer to the stigma, resulting in a high fruit set and yield. The fruit weight and quality parameters obtained through bee pollination were found to be at par with those resulting from hand pollination.

Using these two native species, the ICAR-IIHR has successfully demonstrated growing muskmelon, cucumber, and ridge gourd under polyhouse without hand pollination, resulting in superior yields and fruit quality compared to open field cultivation. For instance, the yield of muskmelon (Arka Siri) was 50 tonnes per hectare (92% fruit-set), and the estimated yield of cucumber was 80 t/ha, which is 2.5 times more than open field cultivation. The technology also provides avenues for existing beekeepers to rent out beehives for pollination purposes and for farmers to save on labour costs while getting returns through honey from the hives. The initial cost of investment in this technology is about Rs. 24,000/- for six hives of stingless bees per acre, the returns are approximately eight times the cost incurred for honey bees. Additionally, it is an environmentally friendly approach he that avoids importing exotic species and promotes biodiversity conservation.

Video on honeybee pollination in a polyhouse:

Source: Dr. P. Venkata Rami Reddy, Principal Scientist, ICAR-IIHR

జాతీయ ఉద్యాన పంటల ప్రదర్శన 2023

భారతదేశంలోనే అతిపెద్ద జాతీయ ఉద్యాన పంటల ప్రదర్శన, “వినూత్న ఉద్యాన కృషి తో స్వావలంబన” అనే నేపథ్యం పై, ఫిబ్రవరి 22 నుండి 25 వరకు భారతీయ ఉద్యాన పంటల పరిశోధన సంస్థ, హెసరఘట్ట, బెంగళూరులో  నిర్వహించబడుతోంది.

ఇందులో 250 హైటెక్ స్టాల్స్, పండ్లు, కూరగాయలు మరియు పువ్వుల యొక్క మెరుగైన రకాలు మరియు సాంకేతికతల ప్రత్యక్ష ప్రదర్శన, శాస్త్రవేత్తలతో రైతుల పరస్పర చర్చ, ప్రయోగాత్మక శిక్షణ, వర్క్‌షాప్‌లు, సమావేశాలు ప్రత్యేక ఆకర్షణలుగా ఉంటాయి. 

ఔత్సాహిక రైతులు మేళాలో పాల్గొనేందుకు హృదయపూర్వకంగా స్వాగతం పలుకుతున్నాము.

“రండి ఉద్యాన పంటల తో కనెక్ట్ అవుదాం”. “ఉద్యాన ఉద్యమం ద్వారా దేశ ప్రగతికి తోడ్పడుదాం”.