Varieties: wild (small), cultivated (larger size)
Dimension of Tree: height: up to 40 to 50 ft (12-15 m)
Dimension of Fruit: shape: round or oval; diameter: 5 – 12.5 cm; weight 1-2.5 kg.
Rind/Pulp: thin, hard, woody rind. When unripe the rind color is grayish green and yellow when ripe.
Culinary uses of bael fruit: eaten fresh; also prepared as sun-dried slices, pickled, sherbet, marmalade and syrup. The young leaves and shoots are eaten as a vegetable in Thailand and used to season food in Indonesia.
Common name of Bael fruit in different countries:
- English name: Stone Apple
- India: bael, bel or sirphal
- Thailand: matum
- Malaysia and Indonesia: maja
- Australia: Bengal quine
- French: oranger du Malabar
- Portuguese: marnelos
Bael Fruit: Bael belongs to the same family as the orange; it has a thin hard woody shell that turns yellow when ripe. The pulp of the fruit is orange-colored, with numerous, hairy seeds embedded in it. The fruit’s medicinal value is very high when it is just beginning to ripen; therefore it is best eaten fresh just as it ripens. Bael fruit’s claim to fame rests most on its medicinal properties.
Bael Tree: The bael fruit tree which is commonly grown in India is found mostly near the temples, as the leaves of the tree bark is traditionally used as sacred offering to Lord Shiva. The tree is also regarded as sacred in Indonesia and Malaysia. In Florida only the small, hard-shelled type is known and this has to be sawed open, cracked with a hammer, or flung forcefully against a rock. Fruits of this type are standard for medicinal uses rather than for consuming as normal food.
Health Benefits of Bael Fruit:
- Bael has a high tannin content which makes it an effective cure for dysentery and cholera. There is as much as 9% tannin in the pulp of wild fruits, less in the cultivated types. The rind contains up to 20%. The leaves also contain tannin.
- Bael is beneficial in the digestive system and it is also a mild laxative.
- A decoction of the unripe Bael fruit with ginger and fennel is said to be effective for the treatment of hemorrhoids.
- The juice of Bael leaves mixed with honey, can relieve catarrh and fever.
- Bael pulp is used in the treatment of Vitiligo.
- Bael leaf decoction is said to alleviate asthma.
- A hot poultice of Bael leaves is considered an effective treatment for various inflammations.
- Bael bark decoction is administered in cases of malaria.
- Bael fruit, roots and leaves have antibiotic activity.
- Bael root, leaves and bark are used in treating snakebite.
- An infusion from bael leaves is an effective remedy for peptic ulcer.
Nutrient Content of Bael per 100 g of Edible Portion:
- Vitamin A: 55 mg
- Vitamin C: 8-60 mg
- Thiamine: 0.13 mg
- Riboflavin: 1.19 mg
- Niacin: 1.1 mg
- Protein: 1.8-2.62 g
- Fat: 0.2-0.39 g
- Carbohydrates: 28.11-31.8 g
- Water: 54.96-61.5 g
- Bael leaves are said to cause abortion and sterility in women.
- Tannin, ingested frequently and in quantity over a long period of time, is anti-nutrient and carcinogenic.
Shelf Life of Bael Fruit: Harvested bael fruits can be stored for 2 weeks outside the refrigerator and 4 in a refrigerator. Thereafter, mold is likely to develop at the stem-end.
Other Uses of Bael:
- From the bael flowers, cologne is obtained by distillation.
- Artists add fruit pulp to their water color, and it may be applied as a protective coating on paintings.
- In rural areas, the fruit, which has binding qualities, is mixed with lime plaster for water proofing wells and is added to cement for building walls in villages.
- Bael fruit is use to eliminate the scum in vinegar making.