Bitter but beautiful, Paradise fruit gives you goodness
Dr. A. Gangaprasad who is a teacher of the department of botany in Kerala University has been in search of a rare fruit for six months for research purposes. Finally, he found it with a farmer in Thodupuzha, but had to pay Rs 1400 to get its seeds and saplings.
The rare but expensive fruit is called Paradise fruit which is also known as Chinese bitter cucumber, spiny bitter gourd, gac, red melon and baby jackfruit. The fruit is very common in Southeast Asian countries, but is not familiar in Kerala.
Dr. Gangaprasad sowed the seeds in his house compound at Venganoor and the plant has grown and started bearing fruit. A research is progressing under his supervision to assess the nutrient content in it, possibilities of financial gain through farming the fruit, possibilities of producing value added products and developing tissue culture saplings. They have also developed a natural orange food colour from its seed.
Paradise fruit plant takes two weeks to sprout once its seed is sowed. It is a vine plant and can be grown on support trees or frames. The female plant gives yield up to 15 years. It needs the presence of male plant to bear fruit.
The fruit grows in the shape of egg with a length of 10-13 cm. It has thorns on it. Raw fruit is green in colour and it turns yellow, orange and red as it ripens. Raw fruit that tastes like bitter gourd can be used to make curry. The taste changes as it ripens.
The ripe fruit tastes like cucumber. Its flesh is in cream colour and seeds are found covered in a red pulp. The fruit contains five times more lycopene than in tomato and eight times more beta carotene than in carrot. Also it is rich with antioxidants and proteins. It is good for vision and also prevents cancer.
It is called paradise fruit for its nutrient richness that help to treat fatigue, depression, cholesterol, heart disease etc. This is exported on large scale due to its high demand. In Vietnam, the pulp and seeds of the fruit is used to make a special dish.