Vernacular Name: Stone fruit, Bengal/Indian quince
Botanical Name: Aegle marmelos
Specimens From India
Specimens Weight: 438 gm [15.45 oz]
Bael fruit is indigenous to India. It is also grown throughout the Indian subcontinent and South-east Asia. The Bael tree can be found in the vincinity of many Hindu temples as the Hindus highly value it as a sacred tree.
Bael fruit is green when unripe but will turn dull yellow when ripe. Traces of minute, brownish spots of oil glands will appear and you will notice the smell of its sourish aroma. The fruit shown in the photo above is considered as small size, as some fruits will grow to the size of a pomelo! But it may be round or pear-shaped.
Depending on the culivars, the woody shell can be hard or soft. So soft that you can just use your thumbs to prise it. The fruit shown here is the hard shell, almost similar to the shell of a young coconut.
If you want a nice clean cut, place the fruit on a thick cloth. Take a heavy, sharp knife and place it on the center of the fruit. Put another cloth on top of the knife and use a hammer to slowly bang it till crack into two pieces! But if you do not care about clean up, just smash two fruits together or simply smash it on a concrete floor! You may create a mess too if you hit it too hard!
The pulp inside the shell is mushy when it is ripe. It is orange in colour, similar to the inside of the pumpkin or sweet potato. The taste is sweet and sour or some parts is sweet and some is sour. You may use a spoon to scoop the pulp directly from the shell if you like or do not mind the taste. Those pulps nearer to the rind are quite fibrous.
Or scoop all the pulps into a bowl and add sugar water to sweeten the taste. There are many seeds in a single fruit, which gets in the way. Although the hairy seeds are small and edible, I still prefer to spit it out as the seeds can be quite hard.
Alternatively, drink it as a smoothie, milkshake or sharbat (Indian fruit juice). Pour everything into the blender, of cause minus the shell. Not much choice about the seeds unless you can be bothered to dig it out one by one! You may add ice, sugar, milk or other sweet fruit juice to your taste and preferences.
In some parts of India, there are make-shift stalls that sell fresh bael fruit juice, similar to this. There are also those commercial bael juice drink in bottled/packet form. And it also comes in dried form that can be kept. It is actually dried slices of bael fruits that are supposed to simmer with water for an insant bael juice drink.
Bael fruits contain carotene, Vitamin B1, B2, B3 and C. This fruit is also used as a laxative. Do not mix up with another similar looking fruit of the same family by the botanical name of "limonia acidissima". It is known as 'wood apple' or even 'bael' as sometimes, this vernacular names are interchangeable between the two fruits and hence, the confusion!
Bael fruit; Aegle marmelos; Aurantioideae; Rutaceae.
Other fruits in the same family: Blood Orange, Kumquat
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