Sugar Palm fruit and its health benefits

Sugar Palm fruit or Ice-apple

Sugar palm or Toddy palm fruit is also called by the name Palmyra palm. It is called Ice-apple in British English. Palmyra palm tree is the national tree of Cambodia and Borassus flabellifer is the Latin name. It grows in the suitable climate of Southeast Asian countries.

The sweet sap of the Palmyra tree is called Toddy and is used in preparation of Palm jaggery. The sap is fermented to make Arrack which is an alcoholic beverage. Almost every part of the tree is useful to mankind. The fan shaped tall tree bears fruits like that of a coconut tree. The pulp is tender and the husk is fibrous similar to that in Coconut. The fruit has a black husk and is 4 to 7 inches in diameter. It is borne in clusters. The top portion of the fruit is cut off to reveal the three sweet jelly seed sockets.

In many places of India where the Toddy palm trees are grown, the ripened fruit is covered with clay as it falls to the ground and a plant thus gets reproduced. Later the tender shoot popping out of the fruit is boiled, roasted and eaten. The fleshy stems are found to be very nutritious and fibrous.

The ripened pulp of the sugar palm is jelly like tender, flat and round with a light brown skin. The inner portion is a juicy socket structure. It has a mild sweet taste. The pulp or the seeds become harder as they grow older.

Tender Sugar Palm seed or pulp
Tender Sugar Palm seed or pulp
Palmyra or Sugar Palm fruits growing on a tree
Palmyra or Sugar Palm fruits growing on a tree

Sugar Palm fruit health benefits and Uses:

1. Palm seeds are considered as a delicacy in India and other asian countries where the Palmyra trees are grown. During early summer, they are sold in markets and for a limited period of time. Summer holidays are enjoyed by preparing different types of drinks, pancakes and dishes prepared from the nutritious pulp.

2. The tender fruit pulp is eaten raw during summer because it gives a cooling effect to the body. The ripened fibrous outer layer of the fruit can be eaten raw, boiled, or roasted.

3. The fruit contains vitamin A, B and also Vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid.

4. It is rich in minerals too. Minerals such as Potassium, Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus and Zinc are found in the fruit.

5. The studies conducted recently to know more about this fruit have given satisfactory results. If the Palmyra trees are grown in large scale commercial farms, it could help solve the world’s malnutrition problem.

6. In some Asian stores they are found in cans but usually they are canned in sugar syrup. Due to the sugar syrup it becomes too sweet.

7. The fresh ones are little crunchy and moderate sweet to taste. They are chopped to small pieces and used in desserts with other variety of fruits like Pineapple, Mangoes, Papaya and offered along with some good flavored ice cream.

8. Matured palm fruit juice is used in making pancakes.

9. The seed sockets of Ice-apple have been the inspiration for some sweets prepared in West Bengal. One such sweet is Jalbhara Sandesh.

10. Its medicinal uses are still unknown to people. The pulp from the mature fruit is used over the skin to cure Dermatitis.

11. Bengalis have perfected the art of preparation of many sweet dishes with the yellowish viscous fluidic substance obtained from a ripe palm fruit. They include the mustard oil fried Taler Bora or the Taalkheer made by mixing it with thickened cow’s milk.

Sugar Palm Fruit Recipes

Recipe of Tender Ice-apple and Coconut water cool drink:

Preparation method:

Take 4 tender Ice-apples and cut them to small pieces. In a bowl, pour 1½ -2 cups of Coconut water as per requirement. Add ½ cup of crushed ice to it. Also add sugar to taste. Mix the ingredients together and garnish it with 4-6 fresh mint leaves.

It is tasty and a very good refreshing cool drink.

Below is another recipe of sweet dish preparation.

Sweet dish prepared using Tapioca pearls (Sabudana in Hindi language) and Sugar Palm seeds:

Necessary Ingredients:

1. Small pieces of Sugar Palm seeds - 2 cups

2. Thick Cream milk – 500ml

3. Water – 2 cups

4. Green cardamom crushed – 3

5. Tapioca pearls soaked in water for ½ an hour - ½ cup

6. Cashew nuts – 10 pieces

7. Raisins – 10-12 seeds

8. Ghee – 2 table spoons

9. Sugar - 1 tablespoon

10. Soaked, peeled and cut Almonds – 10 seeds

11. Saffron – as required

12. Coconut oil – 1 tablespoon

Preparation method:

  1. Pour coconut oil and ghee in a pan and heat it first. Fry the Cardamom, cashew nut pieces, raisin seeds and almond pieces in it.
  2. In the same pan add the creamy milk. Then add water to it and cook Tapioca pearls thoroughly.
  3. As the pearls get cooked add the palm seed pieces, sugar and saffron as required. Mix all the ingredients for 2 minutes and turn off the flame.
  4. Leave it to cool and then refrigerate it for 20 minutes. Serve chilled.

Thailand based companies sell canned Sugar palm fruits online

Some Thailand based companies have websites to sell the fruit in syrup, online. Thai people buy them to use it in recipes of Thai desserts. The pulp or seed is sold as canned fruits in sweet syrup. They are available in tins weighing 500-600g.

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Comments 1 comment

Jona 4 years ago

Hi Vivek,

The article is really good. The recipe also sounds good.

I just love sugar palm fruit, its soooooo yummmmm......Never knew we cud turn it into a dessert, well mainly because we gulp it as soon as we get it. Never lasts more that 5 minutes to think about making dessert from it. But nowadays we don't get it that much. If anybodyt has any idea where to get it fresh (in bulk) please let this fan know.

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