Benefits Of: RED SALAK

Arecaceae (Palm family)

Description. Very short-stemmed, clump-building palm with pinnate leaves 3-5 m (10-16 ft) long. Rachis densely covered in sharp yellowish-brown spines,

6-10 cm (2.4-4 in) long, and clustered, fan-shaped leaflets. Dioecious reddish flowers are produced in short catkinlike, axillary, branched inflorescences, 50100 cm (20-40 in) long. Bright red ovoid fruits 4-6 cm (1.6-2.4 in) long covered in characteristic smooth, reflexed scales that resemble a snakeskin. Fruits usually contain 2 or 3 large light brown seeds and a white, sweet-tasting flesh with applelike consistency.

Benefits Of: RED SALAK Photo Gallery

Origin and Distribution. Native to tropical regions of Malaysia, Borneo, and Sumatra, where the palm grows in lowland freshwater swamp forests. The tree is rare and endangered in the wild as a result of habitat destruction in coastal areas. It was considered extinct in Singapore and only recently rediscovered. Rarely cultivated except in rare tree collections and botanical gardens.

Food uses. The ripe fruits have a sweet, tart flavor and are usually eaten fresh. The flesh can be used in desserts or fruit salads.

Comments. The genus Salacca, distributed throughout Southeast Asia, includes 20 species; several, including the snake fruit (Salacca zalacca, p. 257), are commonly cultivated as fruit trees. The word salak means “rough bark” in Malay and refers to the typical scaly rind of many Salacca fruits.

Description. Creeping, short-stemmed palm with multiple trunks reaching 2-4 m (2.6-13 ft) in height. Pinnate leaves, covered in long, flat spines, are 3-6 m (10-20 ft) long with linear leaflets 6080 cm (24-31 in) long. Dioecious flowers are borne in branched inflorescences 1-2 m (3.3-6.6 ft) long. Male and female flowers with 3 sepals and 3 petals and reddish spadices. Fruits, which are produced in dense clusters, are orange-brown to reddish-brown drupes with a thin brittle skin made up of small scales. Inside, 1-3 seeds are embedded in a fleshy, juicy sarcotesta that can be yellow, pink, or yellowish-brown in color.

Origin and Distribution: Native to Myanmar, Thailand, and parts of the Malaysian peninsula. The palm grows naturally in humid tropical lowland rainforests with a short dry season. Cultivated on a small scale in Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand, where the fruits are sometimes found in local markets. Rarely grown in tropical Africa or America, except occasionally in rarefruit collections.

Food uses: Ripe fruits, which have an agreeable, tart to sweet flavor, are mainly consumed fresh or used in fruit salads. Unripe, acidic fruits are used as a substitute for limes.

Comments: The leaves of the rakum palm are used in rural areas of Southeast Asia for thatching, and the plant is a source of cork. The palm is also known by the synonym S. rumphii.

Description. Short-stemmed palm with clustered stems and pinnate leaves that grow up to 6 m (20 ft) long. Petiole 2 m (6.6 ft) long and densely covered in long, blackish-brown, very sharp spines. Dioecious flowers originate at the base of the palm, hidden among the petioles. Fruits round or oval; skin reddish-brown with scales like snake skin that give the plant its common name. Pulp with 3 lobes with 1 seed in each. The yellowish-white flesh has an applelike texture and an aromatic, subacid to sweet taste.

Origin and Distribution. The salak palm is native to the Malay Archipelago. This popular palm is grown as a fully or partly domesticated palm throughout its native habitat. The fruits are commonly sold in local markets.

Food uses. The leathery skin of the fruit is peeled and the pulp usually eaten out of hand. This fruit is valued for its refreshing sweet-sour flavor. Slices can be used in fruit salads, desserts, and as food decoration. The flesh of the seeded fruits is often candied or pickled. On the island of Bali, fruits are fermented to produce a sweet wine.

Comments. The genus contains more than 15 species, with S. zalacca the most important. At least 20 cultivars of the salak palm exist, with differences in fruit texture, moisture, and acidity. The most popular varieties are ‘Salak Bali’ from Bali, with a crunchy consistency, and ‘Salak Pondoh’ from the Indonesian province of Yogyakarta, with an intensely sweet aroma.

3 Tubers

Potatoes, taro, cassava, yams and other tubers are actually the underground storage organs of their respective plants. The many tuber species, although often not even closely related, all mainly contain carbohydrates in the form of starch. A variety of species are used for human consumption, forming daily food staples for people around the world.

Each continent seems to have its preferred tuber. In Europe and North America, people mainly eat potatoes and/or sweet potato; in South America, cassava and potatoes are popular; in Africa, it is yam and cassava; and in Asia, taro is widely eaten. Nevertheless, tubers generally play a larger role in the diets of people who live in the tropics.

Besides being food, some tubers are fermented into alcohol, and maca is even consumed as an aphrodisiac. This chapter describes many important tuber species from tropical regions throughout the world, both popular species and lesser known tubers like oca, maca, and malanga.

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