Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Good use of cashew apples: Everyone loves crunchy cashew nuts but when it comes to eating the highly nutritious cashew apple, not many would prefer it. Apart from its astringent taste, the cashew apple is highly perishable and thus it ends up in the garbage bins before reaching the market. And now scientists develop technology to preserve cashew apple juice

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Everyone loves crunchy cashew nuts but when it
comes to eating the highly nutritious cashew apple, not many would
prefer it. Apart from its astringent taste, the cashew apple is highly
perishable and thus it ends up in the garbage bins before reaching the
market.

But now a team of researchers from the coastal city of Visakhapatnam,
known for its delicious cashew orchards, has developed technology to
convert cashew apples into highly tasty, perservable and nutritious
juice. This will save thousands of kgs of cashew apples from going
into the garbage bins and help people to derive health benefits from
it. The juice can be preserved for longer periods and used as a
natural health drink

Andhra Pradesh is one of the major cashew-producing States in India
with 1.65 lakh hectares under cultivation in Guntur, Krishna, East and
West Godavari, Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam, Nellore and Prakasam
districts. About 65 tonnes of cashew is produced in the country with
Andhra Pradesh contributing about 10 tonnes. Visakhapatnam district
alone produces about three tonnes of cashew.

“Cashew apples are highly nutritious, possess therapeutic and
medicinal properties. These are considered as a good source of
reducing sugars, vitamins mainly vitamin C (contains six times higher
than that of orange), minerals, amino acids, carotenoids, phenolics,
organic acids and anti-oxidants.  Traditionally, these fruits are used
to cure a number of chronic diseases like scurvy, diarrhoea, uterine
complaints, dropsy, cholera, rheumatism, and sore throat infections,”
said research scholar Ms Uma Talasila. She developed the technology
under the supervision of Dr Shaik Khasim Beebi, associate professor,
department of biotechnology, Gitam University, Visakhapatnam. The
research was funded by the Department of Science and Technology under
fellowship scheme for women scientists.

They said apart from its nutritional and medicinal value, the juice
could also be utilised as fermentation medium for the production of
value added products like as ethanol, single cell protein and
hyaluronic acid, which has an important function in the body.

“Unfortunately, cashew apples are considered as an agricultural waste
and by-product of cashew nut production. About 90 per cent of cashew
apples are disposed of at harvest due to high perishability,
astringency, short shelf life and lack of proper preservation
techniques,” they said adding that their technology helps in
clarification of the juice to make it palatable and perservable. It
will reduce the load of microbes and increases the shelf life.

Improved shelf life of cashew apple juice makes it feasible for the
year-round availability. Preservation of cashew apple juice increases
utilisation of these nutritious fruits, which are otherwise discarded
in the fields. “This will also generate employment among rural
communities and is expected to derive benefits during off-season,”
they pointed out.

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