Salaca: what is this fruit and why is it useful?
Exotic countries give travelers a chance to try unusual fruits. These fruits include salak. Most of our compatriots first met it in Thailand, once and for all deciding for themselves whether it is worth trying again. Nevertheless, the taste of the fruit is markedly different in different countries, so you should not draw final conclusions after the first tasting.
What kind of fruit is it?
Salak or Salaca also has the name "snake fruit". This is how it was nicknamed by the British. This fruit owes its original name to a volcano in Indonesia. This place is considered the birthplace of the lettuce palm, which has spread to many countries with a suitable climate for it thanks to its edible fruit.
The unique taste of lettuce is unlike anything that residents of northern regions are accustomed to. To some it resembles a mixture of familiar fruits or berries, and to some it seems unpleasant and similar to medicine. It is almost impossible to try herring without going to the south, because the harvested fruit spoils quickly.
The tropical palm Salacca zalacca is a relatively short plant, averaging two to three meters. It forms several trunks, each of which has spines and is covered with peculiar scales. The feathery leaves are noticeably larger than the trunk and sometimes grow up to seven meters long. One plant may have both male and female flowers of a brownish color. They are differentiated by size: male flowers grow to 1 meter, female flowers remain small and are about three times as long as the first. Pollination is engaged in numerous insects, which are attracted by the strong smell.
The fruits grow in clusters at the base of the plant and overhang low above the ground.
What does the fruit look like?
Externally the fruit looks like an elongated egg with a pointed top, measuring 5-10 centimeters and weighing no more than 100 grams. Because of the unusual rind that covers the flesh, lettuce is often referred to as snake fruit, as the scales resemble the skin of reptiles. Some varieties are smooth, but most have small thorns on the skin.
Under the brown or reddish skin is the fruit itself. It consists of two or three light-colored, yellowish or pink segments. Slices are separated from each other before eating. The pips, which are in almost every segment, are not edible.
Unripe lettuce is sour and has astringent properties. The taste of the ripe fruit can vary, depending on the variety of palm and where it grows.
Where it grows
Salak palm is a heat-loving plant and cannot tolerate cold weather. Therefore, it can only be found in tropical climates. It is cultivated in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, New Guinea, the Philippines, Australia and the Fiji Islands. In some countries the plant bears fruit all year round, but in Thailand and Malaysia it is possible to try fresh fruit only in the summer months.
It is believed that Java and Bali are home to the tastiest herring.
Salad palms are grown in huge plantations, the largest of which are located in Indonesia. There, this fruit generates considerable income and plays a significant role in the economy of the state. Therefore, nurseries are developed across the country, where they not only grow trees from selected seeds, but also breed new varieties.
In normal life, these plants are used as hedges, the leaves are used to make fences and roofs of houses. The bark is used as a building material, and from cuttings weave original mats.
What is the usefulness of the fruit salak
For the local population where this plant grows, salak is an important part of the diet. The beneficial substances it contains help to avoid many diseases:
- Beta-carotene. Prevents cardiovascular disease and stroke, as it is an antioxidant.
- Tanin. Helps to eliminate harmful substances from the body, increases immunity.
- Calcium. Serves to strengthen bones and help keep teeth healthy and hair and nails beautiful.
- Phosphorus. Necessary for the formation of bone tissue, as well as maintains energy balance, which prevents the development of diabetes, obesity, and gout.
- Potassium. Salak is often called the fruit of memory. Because of its high potassium content, which is also important for cardiovascular health and the regulation of water balance in the body, the consumption of the fruit of lettuce helps to improve memory and increases concentration.
- Iron. Helps avoid iron deficiency anemia by keeping hemoglobin at proper levels.
- Vitamins C, B1, B2. Prevent avitaminosis, strengthen immunity, improve the gastrointestinal tract.
Widely used in slimming diets. Low calories and high fiber content lead to fast satiety, without weight gain.
Another undeniable advantage of herring is its ability to reduce the so-called "harmful cholesterol". It is enough to eat one fruit a week to keep it in the normal range.
They recommend it for neuroses caused by an increased excitability of the nervous system. The calming properties of the fruit help to lead a normal life and improve a person's psychological state.
What harm can come of it
For all its usefulness, lettuce has contraindications:
- Unripe fruit should not be consumed by people with high acidity, gastritis and predisposition to peptic ulcer disease. Its juice has the ability to corrode the mucous membrane of the stomach, just like the juice of pineapple.
- The body may react negatively to unfamiliar food. However, this applies to any exotic food. So you should not eat it immediately in large quantities. It is also undesirable to feed it to children, especially small children.
- Salak is not compatible with fresh milk. This applies primarily to unripe fruits. Tannins, binding with fiber, form a dense mass. This can lead to constipation and bowel obstruction.
- If the fruit is not washed before consumption, there is a risk of ingesting harmful bacteria and chemicals that treat the fruit before it is shipped for sale. This can cause severe poisoning.
How to eat salak fruit correctly
In order for the fruit not to disappoint, you need to choose it carefully before you buy it. Unripe fruit will do more harm than good.
- The first indicator for the readiness of the fruit will be the smell. It should be good and pleasant.
- If it can be easily squeezed, it is probably overripe. It can be dangerous to eat such a fruit.
- A large fruit is sweeter than a small one. The rind can also tell you what it tastes like. The lighter color of the skin tells you that the lettuce is sourer than the brown fruit.
Lettuce should be kept in the cold for no longer than 5-7 days. After that time, it is no longer edible.
Most often eat fresh lettuce, pre-cleaned from the skin, which is easily removed. Care should be taken because the small thorns can easily injure your hand. Therefore, it is better to hold the fruit by the bottom with a napkin or paper towel. Cut off the sharp top with a knife and make incisions along the length of the fruit along the line of slices. Remove the skin by lifting them with the tip of a knife or nail. The flesh is divided into segments.
Serve lettuce as a whole slice or cut into cubes. If the surface of the peeled fruit appeared dark spots, they are cut off and thrown out. Pips are not consumed in food.
What can be cooked from the salak fruit
In countries where the lettuce palm grows, the fruit is not only eaten fresh, but also used to make various jams, smoothies, and jams. Unripe fruit is used for tangy salads to give them a kind of sourness. Candied lettuce is popular. Pickled fruit serves as an appetizer for meat and fish dishes.
Bali is famous for its wine made from the fruit Salacca wine bali, the secrets of which are jealously guarded by the craftsmen.
You cut about half a kilo of fruit, remove the seeds, cover it with 400 grams of sugar and leave for 12 hours to make the juice. After that, it is filled with water and put on the stove. After boiling, the heat is reduced and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Leave to cool for 6 hours. The procedure is repeated 2 more times, then the finished jam poured into sterilized jars and cover.
Avocado salad with shrimp and lettuce
100 gr. Shrimp are cleaned and marinated in a mixture of honey, soy sauce and pepper. The herring will need 200 grams. It should be peeled and sliced. Mix the fruit with the marinated krill and fry it, stirring until it caramelizes. Dice avocado and tofu cheese into 200 grams each, tear Peking cabbage with your hands and mix everything. In a separate bowl prepare a dressing of finely grated garlic, sesame oil and butter. Pour the dressing over the salad before serving.
Folk Medicine Applications
Folk healers use in their recipes along with the fruit and palm rind, its leaves.
- Thai medicine recommends drinking decoctions and extracts of lettuce as an effective remedy for vision problems. It is especially good during rehabilitation after eye surgery. The therapeutic effect of the fruit is based on the presence of beta-carotene and other antioxidants.
- Decoction of their leaves and infusions on the fruit help restore the gastrointestinal tract, relieve hemorrhoids, relieve pain from gastritis of the stomach, eliminate constipation.
- Pregnant women who suffer from toxemia are often given ripe fruit in raw form. This helps to eliminate nausea.
- The peel of the fruit is used to make tea. It helps diabetics to stabilize sugar levels by normalizing the work of the pancreas.
- For cosmetic purposes, the snake fruit is used to improve the condition of the skin, accelerating the renewal of epidermal cells.
- Squeeze of the fruit is used in creams and creams. Beta-carotene contained in the fruit in large quantities, saturates the skin, gives it a fresh and healthy look.
- The extract of lettuce in scrubs enhances the regeneration of the epidermis and helps to make the skin tighter.
How to grow the lettuce fruit
Growing the lettuce palm at home is not easy. Already in a few days, after extraction from the fruit, the seeds noticeably lose their ability to germinate. Therefore, freeing the seed from the pulp, you need to rinse it in water and soak for a few days in warm water. The water should not get cold. After that, place the seed in a mixture consisting of soil, sand and humus. The pot with the future palm is better to tighten the film on top, to bring the humidity and air temperature closer to the natural habitat. After 1.5-2 months you can see the sprouting.
It should be transplanted into a suitable pot, using soil designed for growing palms. The plant does not like direct sunlight, so if it stands at a window on the south side, you need to shade it.
The future palm needs constant watering so that the soil does not dry out. Without high humidity, the tree first stops growing and then dies.
During the cold season, the pot should be heated to create conditions close to tropical. Lateral shoots can be removed so that many trunks do not form. The same can be done with the leaves, so that the crown is more beautiful and not "shaggy"
The flowering tree should be artificially pollinated, otherwise you can not wait for the fruit. The first fruits will appear only on the fourth year. They mature about 6 months. The taste of home herring differs markedly from that grown in natural conditions, and not for the better.
Far from always in northern latitudes it is possible to get fruit from this plant, as climatic conditions for the ideal existence of the tree are very difficult to create. Short daylight hours in winter and reduced humidity in apartments do not correspond to the natural habitat of the plant.
Nevertheless, in itself an unusual palm tree will be a decoration of the house, and delight the owner with its beauty.
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