(Last Updated on : 10/01/2009)
Woodapple is an ancient fruit of India. The Woodapple is the only species of its genus, in the family Rutaceae. The `kapittha` which is said to be Limonia acidissima, is reputed to be a favourite with elephants. Besides Woodapple, it may be called elephant apple, monkey fruit, curd fruit, `kath bel` and other dialectal names in India.
The rind of the woodapple must be cracked with a hammer. The pulp is a sticky matter. It is pulp lifted out and is eaten raw with or without sugar, or is blended with coconut milk and palm sugar syrup and drunk as a beverage, or frozen as an ice cream. It is also used in chutneys and for making jelly and jam. The jelly is purple and much like that made from black currants.
The acidic brown pulp contains full of tiny hard seeds. It was used as one source of the various `panaka` beverages described by Charaka. Curd acidified with `kapittha`, with pepper and jeera added, yielded the relish `khada`. In `Arthashastra` there is the mention of an `asava` or medicated beverage which was an infusion of `kapittha` with `phanita` (molasses) and honey which could be strong or light depending on the quantity of the ingredients used. The `Arthashastra` also lists `kapittha` seeds among those crushed for oil, a somewhat unusual and now forgotten source. Xuan Zang notes the `kapittha` as a fruit of India and in old Tamil literature it is assorted as one of the principal fruits of the `palai` desert areas. The Woodapple is currently used in the preparation of sour ground chutneys and beverages.
Bottled nectar is made by diluting the pulp with water. After removing the seeds and fiber the pulp is further diluted, strained, and pasteurised. The juice of the woodapple is derived after clarifying the nectar with Pectinol R-10A and then the obtained juice is used for blending with other fruit juices. The pulp is sweetened with syrup of cane or palm sugar and then has been canned and sterilized. The pulp can be freeze-dried for future use but it has not been satisfactorily dried by other methods. Though woodapple is used as food in many states but it has a valuable part to play in the medicinal sectors.