Make best use of low-profile Indian plum this summer

Indian plum flowers and fruits twice a year. Photo: Karshakasree

The Indian plum, locally known as ‘loovikka', is a sight to behold when its deep purple fruits go ripe. It is deemed as an ornamental plant but the fruit can be used for multifarious things. This tree is commonly found in tropical and subtropical regions like India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, and Sri Lanka. It can reach heights up to 10 meters and its leaves have a nice gloss and texture. The young leaves start with a red hue and later turn white.

September-October is the flowering season. It flowers and fruits twice a year. The flowers are white with a green tint. They have a mild fragrance. The fruits are round and turn an attractive red when ripe. The ripe fruits have a sweet and sour taste. The fruit can be consumed raw.

Each fruit contains 4-5 flat seeds. The seeds are thick and the germination is difficult. If grafted plants are used, they will flower and fruit faster. It takes about three months from flowering to fruit setting. A warm and humid climate is ideal for growth. Well-drained sandy soil is best. Pits should be dug and the soil prepared by mixing the topsoil with compost. Trichoderma-enriched cow dung, bone meal, and neem cake should be added and mixed well. After a week, the grafted seedlings could be planted.

The flowers that appear early should be culled. Flowering is ideal only after one year. The fruit can be used to make value-added products like pickles, squash, wine, chutney, and jam. It can also be used instead of tamarind in some fish recipes. The fruit contains various vitamins, phosphorus, calcium, iron, and antioxidants.

Wine preparation
To make wine, select ripe and undamaged fruits and wash them thoroughly. After wiping them dry with a clean cloth, place one cup of fruits in a clean jar. Add half a cup of sugar over them. Continue layering in this manner until the jar is almost full. Top the jar with one cup of sugar. Add 4 cloves, 10 grams of cinnamon, and 4 cardamom pods. Shake the jar occasionally. After 40 days, strain the mixture well.

To make chutney, grind the salted fruit with onions, curry leaves, green chillies, and coconut.

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