Palms are believed to be among the oldest flowering plants in the world. For centuries, many palm species have been tapped throughout the tropical world in order to produce fresh juice (sweet toddy), fermented drinks (toddy, wine, and arak), syrup ("honey"), brown sugar (jaggery) or refined sugar. One of mankind's first sources of sugar was probably Arenga pinnata. Evidence of the use of Borassus flabellifer sugar in India has been reported by the Greek historian Megasthenes, ambassador to the court of Chandragupta, in the 4th centuries BC. Jaggery and treacle extracted from Caryota urens sap in Sri Lanka has been an important source of sugar from antiquity. In Africa, the main traditional use of palm sap is for wine production.
Most tapped palm trees do not only produce sap but are multipurpose (edible fruits, building materials, fuel, fibers, wax, etc.) and their socio-economic importance can be critical for the rural poor: Ghandi used to call Borassus flabellifer, a remedy against poverty. A Tamil classical poem (Tala Vilasam) composed by Arunachalam in Tamil Nadu is entirely dedicated to the glory of this tree and enumerates 801 articles made from its various parts. Nature has made this product in such a way that it cannot be manufactured in the Mills; it is produced in the Cottages. Where there are Palm trees, this Jaggery can be easily produced.
Tamil Nadu is pioneer in development of palm products Industry in India. Out of the estimated 8.59 cores of Palmyra in India, about 5.10 cores of palmyra are in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu is a potential centre for the growth and development of palm products industry to a greater extent so as to attract foreign exchange by way of export of palm products. "Besides quenching thirst, Palmyra fruits are good for health". Preserved Nungu is one of its value-added products promoted for sale. The edible palm products such as neera, palm jaggery, palm sugar, palm candy, preserved nungu, palm fruit jam and palm chocolate varieties are available in the market. But, fruit pulp of Palmyra fruit was not commonly used for the preparation of fruit products.
Professor (Food Science & Nutrition),
Post Harvest Technology Centre,
Agricultural Engineering College & Research Institute,
Tamil Nadu Agricultural University,
Coimbatore – 641003.