Malabar tamarind seeds can yield edible oil: Scientists

The tamarind variety, called Garcinia gummi-gutta scientifically, is found in almost all parts of Kerala with an abundance in the central Travancore region.

Published: 21st December 2021 06:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st December 2021 06:10 AM   |  A+A-

Malabar tamarind

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Carrying out innovative research, the scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute in Thiruvananthapuram have hit upon Malabar tamarind, or kudampuli in Malayalam, as a good source of edible oil.

The tamarind variety, called Garcinia gummi-gutta scientifically, is found in almost all parts of Kerala with an abundance in the central Travancore region. The study by Dr K B Rameshkumar and Dr M Priya Rani shows that seeds of Malabar tamarind have a yield of 35 to 40%. That means 350 to 400ml of oil can be extracted from a kilogram of tamarind seeds.

The same quantity of coconut yields 500ml. But tamarind oil outshines coconut oil in illuminating power, says project leader Rameshkumar. “Illuminating power is high for the oil extracted from Garcinia gummi- gutta. Two millilitres of Garcinia oil will light a lamp for 40 minutes while coconut oil, under the same conditions, lasts for 30 to 35 minutes,” he said.

The new variety of oil was found good for cooking though it was not as tasty as coconut oil. It was found ideal for cosmetics and soap production as well. At present, hundreds of tonnes of the seeds are wasted in the state after the rinds are harvested.

Based on a scientific assessment, Rameshkumar says that about 500 tonnes of seeds are wasted in the central Travancore region alone, which would yield 200 tonnes of oil a year. The idea gains significance considering the huge demand for edible oil in the state which is met through domestic production and procurement from other states.

“The research finding has impact on reducing the import of edible oils, sustainable utilisation of local plant resources and increasing the revenue of the rural agriculture sector,” he said. Oil extraction from Malabar tamarind was prevalent in the state in the past. But people abandoned it presumably with the start of commercial oil production.

The fruit rinds are now commonly used as a condiment and as a source of hydroxy citric acid, an antiobesity agent. Dr R Prakashkumar, director of the research institute, said it is involved in developing strategies for the utilisation of regionally available oil seeds with the help of modern science and technology tools. “Various programmes are conducted to handhold emerging entrepreneurs in the herbal technology sector,” he said.


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