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

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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.

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