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Bael Fruit 


Indian Name :  Sriphal, Bael 
Botanical Name :  Aegle marmelos
Family:  Feronia limonia Swingle 
Parts Use:  Fruits, leaves

Description:

The bael fruit tree is slow-growing, of medium size, up to 40 or 50 ft (12-15 m) tall with short trunk, thick, soft, flaking bark, and spreading, sometimes spiny branches, the lower ones drooping. Young suckers bear many stiff, straight spines. A clear, gummy sap, resembling gum arabic, exudes from wounded branches and hangs down in long strands, becoming gradually solid. It is sweet at first taste and then irritating to the throat. The deciduous, alternate leaves, borne singly or in 2's or 3's, are composed of 3 to 5 oval, pointed, shallowly toothed leaflets, 1 1/2 to 4 in (4-10 cm) long, 3/4 to 2 in (2-5 cm) wide, the terminal one with a long petiole. New foliage is glossy and pinkish-maroon. Mature leaves emit a disagreeable odor when bruised. Fragrant flowers, in clusters of 4 to 7 along the young branchlets, have 4 recurved, fleshy petals, green outside, yellowish inside, and 50 or more greenish-yellow stamens. The fruit, round, pyriform, oval, or oblong, 2 to 8 in (5-20 cm) in diameter, may have a thin, hard, woody shell or a more or less soft rind, gray-green until the fruit is fully ripe, when it turns yellowish. It is dotted with aromatic, minute oil glands. Inside, there is a hard central core and 8 to 20 faintly defined triangular segments, with thin, dark-orange walls, filled with aromatic, pale-orange, pasty, sweet, resinous, more or less astringent, pulp. Embedded in the pulp are 10 to 15 seeds, flattened-oblong, about 3/8 in (1 cm) long, bearing woolly hairs and each enclosed in a sac of adhesive, transparent mucilage that solidifies on drying.

Cultivation :  

Climate

The bael fruit tree is a subtropical species. In the Punjab, it grows up to an altitude of 4,000 ft (1,200 m) where the temperature rises to 120º F (48.89º C) in the shade in summer and descends to 20º F (-6.67º C) in the winter, and prolonged droughts occur. It will not fruit where there is no long, dry season, as in southern Malaya.

Soil

The bael fruit is said to do best on rich, well-drained soil, but it has grown well and fruited on the oolitic limestone of southern Florida. According to L. B. Singh (1961), it "grows well in swampy, alkaline or stony soils". . . "grows luxuriantly in the soils having pH range from 5 to 8". In India it has the reputation of thriving where other fruit trees cannot survive.

Propagation

The bael fruit is commonly grown from seed in nurseries and transplanted into the field. Seedlings show great variation in form, size, texture of rind, quantity and quality of pulp and number of seeds. The flavor ranges from disagreeable to pleasant. Therefore, superior types must be multiplied vegetatively. L.B. Singh achieved 80% to 95% success in 1954 when he budded 1-month-old shoots onto 2-year-old seedling bael rootstocks in the month of June. Experimental shield-budding onto related species of Afraegle and onto Swinglea glutinosa Merr. has been successful. Occasionally, air-layers or root cuttings have been used for propagation.

Culture

The tree has no exacting cultural requirements, doing well with a minimum of fertilizer and irrigation. The spacing in orchards is 25 to 30 ft (6-9 m) between trees. Seedlings begin to bear in 6 to 7 years, vegetatively propagated trees in 5 years. Full production is reached in 15 years. In India flowering occurs in April and May soon after the new leaves appear and the fruit ripens in 10 to 11 months from bloom–March to June of the following year.

Harvesting

Normally, the fruit is harvested when yellowish-green and kept for 8 days while it loses its green tint. Then the stem readily separates from the fruit. The fruits can be harvested in January (2 to 3 months before full maturity) and ripened artificially in 18 to 24 days by treatment with 1,000 to 1,500 ppm ethrel (2-chloroethane phosphonic acid) and storage at 86º F (30º C). Care is needed in harvesting and handling to avoid causing cracks in the rind.

A tree may yield as many as 800 fruits in a season but an average crop is 150 to 200, or, in the better cultivars, up to 400.

Keeping Quality

Normally-harvested bael fruits can be held for 2 weeks at 86º F (30º C), 4 months at 48.2º F (9º C). Thereafter, mold is likely to develop at the stem-end and any crack in the rind.

Pests and Diseases

The bael fruit seems to be relatively free from pests and diseases except for the fungi causing deterioration in storage.

Purchase Advice : The Best time to buy this herb :

January to March

Benefits of Bael

Bael fruits may be cut in half, or the soft types broken open, and the pulp, dressed with palm sugar, eaten for breakfast, as is a common practice in Indonesia. The pulp is often processed as nectar or "squash" (diluted nectar). A popular drink (called "sherbet" in India) is made by beating the seeded pulp together with milk and sugar. A beverage is also made by combining bael fruit pulp with that of tamarind. These drinks are consumed perhaps less as food or refreshment than for their medicinal effects.

Mature but still unripe fruits are made into jam, with the addition of citric acid. The pulp is also converted into marmalade or sirup, likewise for both food and therapeutic use, the marmalade being eaten at breakfast by those convalescing from diarrhea and dysentery. A firm jelly is made from the pulp alone, or, better still, combined with guava to modify the astringent flavor. The pulp is also pickled.

Bael pulp is steeped in water, strained, preserved with 350 ppm S02, blended with 30% sugar, then dehydrated for 15 hrs at 120º F (48.89º C) and pulverized. The powder is enriched with 66 mg per 100 g ascorbic acid and can be stored for 3 months for use in making cold drinks ("squashes"). A confection, bael fruit toffee, is prepared by combining the pulp with sugar, glucose, skim milk powder and hydrogenated fat. Indian food technologists view the prospects for expanded bael fruit processing as highly promising.

The young leaves and shoots are eaten as a vegetable in Thailand and used to season food in Indonesia. They are said to reduce the appetite. An infusion of the flowers is a cooling drink.

Fruit: The fruit pulp has detergent action and has been used for washing clothes. Quisumbing says that bael fruit is employed to eliminate scum in vinegar-making. The gum enveloping the seeds is most abundant in wild fruits and especially when they are unripe. It is commonly used as a household glue and is employed as an adhesive by jewelers. Sometimes it is resorted to as a soap-substitute. It is mixed with lime plaster for waterproofing wells and is added to cement when building walls. Artists add it to their watercolors, and it may be applied as a protective coating on paintings.

The limonene-rich oil has been distilled from the rind for scenting hair oil. The shell of hard fruits has been fashioned into pill- and snuff boxes, sometimes decorated with gold and silver. The rind of the unripe fruit is employed in tanning and also yields a yellow dye for calico and silk fabrics.

Leaves: In the Hindu culture, the leaves are indispensable offerings to the 'Lord Shiva'. The leaves and twigs are lopped for fodder.

Flowers: A cologne is obtained by distillation from the flowers.

Quality of Bael :

  • Red

  • Dry

  • Whole & Slice

For bulk purchase of the above qualities :
Please send us an email mentioning the quantity you require and your delivery destination at order@allayurveda.com

Other Ayurvedic Products which also contain Bael :

 Packs  
Isabbael (H) Granules
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