Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Learn to mix a baobab drink!

Check out this video which provides a how-to on mixing a refreshing baobab drink.

Video courtesy of Baobabfruitcosn

The Many Wonders of the Baobab Fruit

A recent article in The Guardian highlights the use of the baobab fruit by a London-based chef who is very excited about the use of baobab in cooking.


"It is a wonderful fruit!" rhapsodises Antonio Perez, who spent many years travelling around its native land before opening the African Kitchen Gallery Restaurant in central London. "It is very nutritious, full of vitamin C and vitamin A. It has a very special flavour, but the closest I can get to it is jackfruit, which is like melon."

But what can you do with it? Well, when it comes to the baobab fruit, it seems simpler to ask what can't you do with it. In Africa, it is used to alleviate various medical complaints, the leaves are eaten as a vegetable, and the seeds can be eaten raw or roasted, or ground to make an edible oil and thickener for soups and stews.

"For the fruit itself, you can peel it and slice it and cook it with anything - beef, chicken, even bake or grill it with fish," says Perez. "Roast it, mash it, puree it ..." Coming as it does from a culture with no tradition of writing down cookery methods, he says there is no master recipe. "They are learned from family to family, everybody will cook it differently. It will bring the flavour. You must bring your imagination."

You may need a smidgen more imagination than usual for now, as the EU has so far only approved the powdery pulp of the fruit for dismally denatured use in things like cereal bars and smoothies, but Perez remains undaunted. "It is like flour - you can blend it with anything," he urges. "You could make it into something like polenta, into porridge and have it for supper. It is a fantastic fruit."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Baobab fruit pulp perfect for healthy snacks


We are constantly subjected to media reports detailing the detrimental effects of obesity, poor nutrition, and disease on people across the globe. Can something as simple as changing your diet help to provide a solution?

Eating the right foods has been recommended for years as a course of action to correct many health problems. The pulp of the baobab fruit, sometimes referred to as a superfruit, contains many nutritious properties that are helpful to the human body. Combined with a sweet and tangy taste, the result is an ingredient that can add some zing to your food and some energy to your body.

Baobab nutritional information

According to PhytoTrade Africa, baobab fruit pulp has the following characteristics:

-High natural Vitamin C content (at least 150mg/100g).
-Strong antioxidant properties: Integral Antioxidant Capacity (IAC) - 11.1 mmol/g. This value is significantly higher than that of an orange pulp (IAC = 0.103 mmol/g), and grape seed Oligomers (IAC = 10.25 mmol/g).
-A natural source of minerals including Calcium (293 mg/100g), Phosphorus (96-118 mg/100g), Iron (7-8.6 mg/100g) and Potassium (2.31 mg/100g).
-Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and Vitamin B3 (niacin).
-High levels of pectin (23%), making it a useful binding and thickening agent.
-Gelling and viscosity modification.
-Soluble and insoluble dietary fibres with prebiotic effects.
-The acidulous taste is attributed to the presence of organic acids, such as citric acid, malic acid and succinic acid.

Uses for baobab fruit pulp

PhytoTrade Africa has done quite a bit of work to develop and lobby for the baobab fruit industry. Some recommendations from them for using baobab fruit pulp include its use in product formulation to provide nutritional fortification, flavor enhancement, viscosity and texture modification, and as a source of dietary fiber and nutrients.

Additional potential lies in using baobab fruit pulp in the following applications:

-Soft drinks and beverages
-Snack bars, breakfast cereals, biscuits and snacks
-Natural fruit smoothies
-Health supplements; botanical extracts including antioxidants
-Fruit fillings, jams, sauces, puddings and desserts
-Baking products
-Various active cosmetic uses, including antioxidants for anti-aging, skin tightening, moisturizers, and hair and nail strengthening products

My related posts

* Baobab use goes beyond fruits
* New king of the superfruits? A look at the baobab

Monday, August 11, 2008

Baobab use goes beyond fruits


Baobab fruit is known for its nutritional properties and delicious taste. Some may query whether there is any other useful part of the baobab tree?

The entire baobab tree has been used in its various parts for many years across Africa. Its leaves, fruit, seeds and trunk all provide a variety of uses - including water storage, medicine, oils, and clothes.

Photo courtesy of giamplume

Food products from the baobab

Many parts of the baobab are edible. The fruit is mixed with water and drunk as lemonade or dissolved into milk and used as a drink, and is also enjoyed raw. Beyond the fruit, the seeds can be eaten raw or roasted and made into coffee, and they yield an edible oil. The leaves can be made into spinach or eaten as relish and the fruit dissolved in milk or water and used as a drink. In Senegal, baobab pulp is mostly used to make a drink called Bouye, a milky, tart juice made by boiling the pulp and seeds together with water and sugar.

The citric and tartaric acids found in the pulp provide the base for cream of tartar, often used as a baking ingredient. Other uses for tartar include a milk-curdling agent and a yoghurt or ice-cream flavoring.

* Baobab pulp has many food applications, including the basis for cream of tartar.
* Baobab seeds and leaves are also prepared and eaten.

Uses of the baobab tree?

Some baobab trees, which are 80% water, are hollow and have been used as bars, shops and even prisons. The trunk is often home to bats and snakes, and even humans. A district commissioner in Zambia once set up his office inside, and a tree still standing in Western Australia was used to imprison Aboriginal convicts in the 1890s.

The bark is stewed to wash newborn babies to give them strength, but some people in Zambia believe eating baobab attracts crocodiles and therefore fisherman may avoid it. The bark can be used to make rope. In some African cultures, the pulp has also been used as an ingredient in traditional cosmetics.

* Baobab trunks are sometimes hollow and can be used as shelters.
* The bark can be used for rope and medicine and the pulp can be used for cosmetics.

The baobab tree produces many usable products from its fruit, bark, leaves and seeds. Recent focus has been on products derived from baobab fruit pulp, and the hope is that this burgeoning industry will provide jobs and money for many Africans in the coming years.

My related posts:

* New king of the superfruits? A look at the baobab

New king of the superfruits? A look at the baobab


Why is the baobab suddenly on the radar of health foodies worldwide?

The baobab is considered a superfruit high in calcium, vitamin C and antioxidants. After lobbying by a fair trade organization, the EU recently approved the use of parts of the baobab fruit in smoothies and cereal bars. The ruling opens the door for development of new products incorporating the native African fruit.

Photo courtesy of Blah Blah Blog

Why is the baobab considered a superfruit?

A superfruit refers to a fruit that contains exceptional nutrient richness and antioxidant qualities yet still has an appealing taste. These fruits are often considered exotic in the sense that they are not usually widely available outside of local areas of cultivation.

The baobab fruit has twice as much calcium as milk and six times the Vitamin C of an orange. According to the International Centre for Underutilized Crops at the University of Southhampton (UK), the baobab is "a fruit of the future", rich also in vitamin B1, B2 and chock-full of antioxidants. It also contains high levels of iron and potassium.

Baobab joins the ranks of other superfruits such as the açaí, blueberry, cranberry, goji, guarana, mangosteen, noni and pomegranate - many of which have already achieved popularity through juice drinks, supplements and other health-related products.

* Contains exceptionally high amounts of Vitamin C, calcium, and antioxidants.
* Also contains generous amounts of Vitamin A and iron.

Fair trade organization lobbies successfully for approval

Legislation preventing the imports of food not commonly consumed in the EU before 1997 had previously prevented the sale of baobab throughout the EU. The EU approved the use of parts of the baobab fruit in smoothies and cereal bars on July 15, 2008, after considering an application filed by PhytoTrade Africa.

PhytoTrade Africa is dedicated to the development of a fair trade and environmentally sustainable natural products industry. An application for novel foods approval for baobab was filed by PhytoTrade in 2006 and was supported by an independent committee of scientists appointed by the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA).

PhytoTrade Africa's Cyril Lombard hopes that "Novel foods approval will be a winner for consumers, manufacturers and producers. It will also be fantastic news for Africa, making a real difference to poor rural communities by offering them a potentially life changing source of income."

* EU legislation prevents the import of foods not commonly consumed before 1997.
* PhytoTrade Africa, a nonprofit organization, successfully lobbied for EU approval of baobab fruit.

Gus Le Breton, chief executive of PhytoTrade Africa, said: "The EU decision is a crucial step to developing the global market which could be worth up to £500 million a year." This is likely based on a 2007 report by the UK’s Natural Resources Institute which estimates that baobab has the potential to be a billion dollar industry for Africa and could employ over 2.5 million households.