Our beautiful and fertile planet provides us with abundance of food, with thousands of varieties to choose from. Thanks to generous mother nature, we can enjoy many different types of healthy fruits, some of the tastiest foods available! They are delicious eaten fresh, but can be dried and preserved and are also widely used in manufactured foods like cakes, yoghurt, vinegar etc. Apples are among the world's most popular fruits. This article, however, isn't about them. What I have in mind is an entirely different fruit and it is called ice apple. Don't get fooled by its name, it has nothing to do with frozen fruit. Ice apple is actually a fruit of Palmyra palm, also called sugar or toddy palm. This delicacy grows in bunches on top of the female trees and looks similar to coconut but is much smaller and more rounded. It has a dark brown husk that turns black with a shade of purple when picked. Underneath the hard protective layer, soft, edible, translucent, jelly like flesh (similar to lychee) can be found. It's often sold by street vendors and can be found in India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, parts of tropical Africa as well as Hawaii and Florida. It's known for excellent cooling properties that make it a perfect summer snack. There's nothing more refreshing than a juicy bite of Palmyra fruit on a hot day.
Ice apple can be eaten raw, pickled or made into delicious desserts such as Indian "payasam" or sorbets. Palmyra fruit has a high water content and is soft so the juice can be extracted easily, turning it into a healthy beverage. It has a very subtle and refreshing taste, similar to tender coconut but less sweet. It's an excellent thirst quencher and is packed with nutrition. This tasty fruit contains zinc, calcium, iron and potassium. It is also a good source of vitamins. It's fat free, has very little carbohydrates, low glycemic index and is diabetes-friendly. It is traditionally used for digestive problems and is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
To open the fruit, the top part needs to be cut off with a sharp knife. Once out of its husk, it is best consumed right away but can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days. It really is worth trying given it's fantastic health-promoting properties. If you're nowhere near the sugar palms, you may still be able to get it. Ice apple can be found canned and frozen in some Asian markets in the West.