Posted in CAMBODIA, Flora & Fauna, INDONESIA, Life, MALAYSIA

Pineapple

Pineapple[1]Pineapple

The pineapple is technically not a single fruit, but a sorosis. The fruits of a hundred or more separate flowers grow on the plant spike. As they grow, they swell with juice and pulp, expanding to become the “fruit.”

Pineapples have exceptional juiciness and a vibrant tropical flavour that balances the tastes of sweet and tart. They are second only to bananas as America’s favourite tropical fruit. Although the season for pineapple runs from March through June, they are available year-round in local markets.

Pineapples are a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. Each fruitlet can be identified by an “eye,” the rough spiny marking on the pineapple’s surface. Pineapples have a wide cylindrical shape, a scaly green, brown or yellow skin and a regal crown of spiny, blue-green leaves and fibrous yellow flesh. The area closer to the base of the fruit has more sugar content and therefore a sweeter taste and more tender texture.

Pineapple[2]Ripe Pineapples

Pineapple are consumed both fresh and cooked, canned, juiced, are found in a wide array of food stuffs –dessert, fruit salad, jam, yogurt, ice cream, crisps, candy- and as a complement to meat dishes. In addition to consumption, in the Philippines the pineapple’s leaves are used to produce the textile fibre – piña – as a component of wall paper and furnishings, amongst other uses

Pineapple, Ananas comosus, belongs to the Bromeliaceae family, from which one of its most important health-promoting compounds, the enzyme bromelain, was named. The Spanish name for pineapple, pina, and the root of its English name, reflects the fruit’s visual similarity to the pinecone.

Pineapples have a wide cylindrical shape, a scaly green, brown or yellow skin and a regal crown of spiny, blue-green leaves. The fibrous flesh of pineapple is yellow in colour and has a vibrant tropical flavour that balances the tastes of sweet and tart. The area closer to the base of the fruit has more sugar content and therefore a sweeter taste and more tender texture.

Although thought to have originated in South America, pineapples were first discovered by Europeans in 1493 on the Caribbean island that came to be known as Guadalupe. When Columbus and other discovers brought pineapples back to Europe, attempts were made to cultivate the sweet, prized fruit until it was realized that the fruit’s need for a tropical climate inhibited its ability to flourish in this region. By the end of the 16th century, Portuguese and Spanish explorers introduced pineapples into many of their Asian, African and South Pacific colonies, countries in which the pineapple is still being grown today.

Since pineapples are very perishable, and modes of transportation to bring them stateside from the Caribbean Islands were relatively slow centuries ago, fresh pineapples were a rarity that became coveted by the early American colonists. While glazed, sugar-coated pineapples were a luxurious treat, it was the fresh pineapple itself that became the sought after true symbol of prestige and social class. In fact, the pineapple, because of its rarity and expense, was such a status item in those times that all a party hostess had to do was to display the fruit as part of a decorative centrepiece, and she would be awarded more than just a modicum of social awe and recognition.

In the 18th century, pineapples began to be cultivated in Hawaii, the only state in the U.S. in which they are still grown. In addition to Hawaii, other countries that commercially grow pineapples include Thailand, the Philippines, China, Brazil and Mexico.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPineapples have a wide cylindrical shape, a scaly green, brown or yellow skin and a regal crown of spiny, blue-green leaves. The fibrous flesh of pineapple is yellow in colour and has a vibrant tropical flavour that balances the tastes of sweet and tart.

The nutritional profile of pineapple includes a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fibre, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Pineapples are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. They’re also a good source of Dietary Fibre, Thiamin, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6 and Copper, and a very good source of Vitamin C and Manganese.

Pineapple[4]Pineapples are actually not just one fruit but a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. Each fruitlet can be identified by an “eye,” the rough spiny marking on the pineapple’s surface.

Agricultural waste from pineapple, which is eco-friendly can be used as alternative materials for production of home textiles, apparels, non-woven and industrial fabrics and upholsteries. The waste parts left from canning plants, including the skin, core and ends, are used to make alcohol, vinegar and food for livestock.

Pineapple fibres are obtained from pineapple waste, which has high lignin and cellulose content. These were already being used as organic waste till recently, but with recent experiments proving successful in producing silk-like textiles when fused with polyester or silk, these fibres have a new utility.

Pineapple FiberPiña (as it called in Philippines) fibre is extracted from the leaves of the pineapple plant, Ananas comosus.  Piña fibre can be extracted by hand-scraping, decortication or retting.  Pineapple fibres are very lightweight, soft and easy to maintain and wash, and also it fuses well with other fabrics and provides an elegant look.

Pineapple fibres are very lightweight, soft and easy to maintain and wash, and also it fuses well with other fabrics and provides an elegant look. With increasing awareness regarding eco-friendly fabrics, these fibres are now being increasingly used for preparation of apparels and home furnishings such as cloth, shirt, handbag, coaster, floor mat, paper etc.

Piña fibre can be extracted by hand-scraping, decortication or retting. However, it is only by hand-scraping that good quality fibres are produced for handweaving.

Pineapple Shirt[1]

Handwoven piña cloth embroidered intricately were greatly prized then and believed to have matched, or even surpassed, the most intricate laces or other luxurious handiworks. Piña cloth became one of the most sought after handwoven materials because it was a suitable wear to tropical climate and due to its uniqueness and beauty, it offered the most feminine and refined look in an age of elegance and romanticism.

The processes involved in piña fibre and cloth production are too laborious and time-consuming as each step – from fibre production to weaving – is done by hand. Thus, through the years, the younger generation lost interest in pursuing this undertaking, leaving only the old folks to engage in the diverse activities of the industry.

Pineapple Shirt[2]Piña cloth then was described as one of the most beautiful fabrics; only used in the dress of the wealthy, being too costly for common use.

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Posted in Art & Culture, Flora & Fauna, Life, MALAYSIA, Travel

Fruit Carving

I was specially invited by the organiser to attend the soft launching of MAHA International 2012 or Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture & Agrotourism International Show 2012 by the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, at Putrajaya Mariott Hotel & Spa, Malaysia on 16 July 2012.

MAHA International 2012 will be held from 23 November to 2 December 2012 at Malaysia Agro Exposition Park, Serdang (MAEPS), Selangor, Malaysia.

While waiting for the official function to begin, I was fascinated by the decorations prepared for the event i.e. tropical fruits and fruit carving as well as it small flowers as table decoration.

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Posted in Flora & Fauna, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, Travel

Durian

Nick named ‘King of Fruits’; durian is highly valued in Southeast Asian countries. Durian has a very distinguished smell and its skin is thorny and hard. The dimension of a durian fruit is about 30 – 15 cm and its weight is about three Kgs. Durian flowers bloom in a cluster and there are about three to thirty identical clusters borne on its trunk and large branches. Every flower has sepals and about five to six petals. Durian is round although the oblong shape is not irregular. The shells are green or brown while its flesh is a luminous yellowish or reddish color.

Common Names – Durian (Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia)
Origin – Durian originated from Southeast Asia.
Scientific Name – Durio zibethinus

The degree of ripeness has an effect on the flavor of durian. Scientific analysis done on the durian aroma has found a mixture of esters, ketones, and different sulphur compounds, but could not distinguish which one is the primary contributor of the strong odor. The odor of the edible parts of durian is so penetrating; it spreads a long distance even without removing the shell. Some like the aroma of durian very much while some others highly despise its scent.

Durian trees yield two harvests per year, but it may vary in keeping with the various climates, cultivars and places. Durian trees bear fruit after 4 -5 years and they take about three months to ripe. From a great variety of durian, only the Durio ziebethinus variety is marketed internationally.

Durian shells are green or brown while its flesh is a luminous yellowish or reddish color. The odor of the edible parts of durian is so penetrating; it spreads a long distance even without removing the shell. Some like the aroma of durian very much while some others highly despise its scent.

Without refrigeration the fruit has a shelf life of only 2 -5 days. Fermented durian, wrapped in palm leaves, remain palatable for up to a year. The preparation is called “tempoyak” in Malaysia and Indonesia and is a popular side dish. They may also be used mixed with rice and sugar to make “lempok”, or minced with salt, onions and vinegar, for “boder”. Durian seeds may be roasted in hot ashes, or cut into slices and fried in spiced coconut oil. They are eaten with rice, or mixed with sugar to make a sweetmeat. Half-ripe fruit are used in soups. The durian is not only a meal to the lover, but has in fact the requisite food values. Though the fruit has much waste, it is very filling and high in proteins, minerals and fats.

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Posted in Flora & Fauna, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, Tourism, Travel

Mangosteen

Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical fruiting tree in the family Clusiaceae, native to the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas of Indonesia.  It is known as manggis in Malaysia and Singapore. Mangosteen is one of the most tasty tropical fruits and rightfully deserves the title “Queen of Fruits”.

Common Names – Manggis (Malaysia and Indonesia)
Origin – Pulasan originated from Southeast Asia.
Scientific Name – Garcinia mangostana

Mangosteen tree is a slow-growing, erect, with a pyramidal crown tree, growing 7-25 m tall. It has scaly, dark-brown or nearly black bark, with inner bark that produce yellow, gummy and bitter latex. The leaves are evergreen, dark green, opposite, ovate or elliptic, thick with leathery texture, 9-25 cm long and  4.5-10 cm wide, with conspicuous midrib. New leaves appear rosy. The flowers, may be male or hermaphrodite on the same tree. They are 4-5 cm wide and fleshy. Male flowers, 4 sepals and 4 ovate, thick and fleshy petals, appear in clusters of 3-9 at the branch tips, are green with red spots on the outside and yellowish-red on the inside, with many stamens. The hermaphrodite flowers, with petals that are yellowish-green edged with red or mostly red, are borne singly or in pairs at the tip of young branchlets, and are quickly shed. The juvenile mangosteen fruit, which does not require fertilisation to form is initially pale green or almost white, ripening to a deep, purplish burgundy in 2-3 months time.

Mangosteen fruit is round, dark purple to red purple and smooth externally, 3-8 cm in diameter. It is capped by the prominent calyx at the stem end, and with 4 to 8 triangular, flat remnants of the stigma in a rosette at the apex, corresponding to the numbers of aril segments inside the fruit. The best fruit has the most numbers of stigma lobes at the apex, for these have the highest number of fleshy segments and accordingly the fewest seeds. The rind, 6-10 mm thick, contains purple, staining juice and bitter yellow latex. The purple juice may stain skin or fabric. The flattened seeds are ovoid-oblong, 2.5 cm long and 1.6 cm wide, and cling to the arils. The white arils is sweet, tangy, fibrous with slightly acidic taste.

Mangosteen is delicious and usually eaten fresh as dessert , rich in xanthones and tannin and is commonly used as an astringent, which are known to help your body function healthily.  It is also made into jam. 


Mangosteen is delicious and usually eaten fresh as dessert. It is also made into jam. The rind of the mangosteen is rich in xanthones and tannin and is commonly used as an astringent, which are known to help your body function healthily. In addition to this, each serving of this fruit can contain up to five grams of fibre.

Xanthones are the name given to a group of polyphenolic compounds, which are similar in structure to bioflavanoids and are biologically active. They are very rarely found occurring in nature, and the majority of them are found in just two different families of plants. So far, there have been two hundred xanthones that occur naturally which have been identified, and of those two hundred, forty were discovered in the Mangosteen fruit.

Xanthones, along with their derivatives, have been scientifically proven to have many benefits. Some of these are anti-inflammatory properties, anti convulsion abilities and anti-allergic properties. Other components that are found in Mangosteen also have some medicinal qualities, and examples of a few of these components would be catechins, sterols, polysaccharides and proanthocyanidins. While these compounds are not as nutritionally important or as biologically active as xanthones, they still go a long way in providing the Mangosteen with the medicinal benefits that it is treasured for, because many of these components are antioxidants.

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Posted in Flora & Fauna, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, Travel

Pulasan

Pulasan (Nephelium mutabile) is a tropical fruit closely related to the rambutan, in the family Sapindaceae, native to Peninsular Malaysia. The name pulasan is derived from Malay word ‘pulas’ meaning twist, in referrence to the act of opening the fruit via twisting. It is known as pulasan in English, Spanish and Malay, kepulasan in Indonesia, bulala in the Philippines, and ngoh-khonsan in Thailand. Pulasan is common in Southeast Asia and the Philippines, and rare to the rest of the world.

Common Names – Pulasan, kapulasan (Indonesia), ngoh-khonsan (Thailand) and bulala (Philippines)
Origin – Pulasan originated from Malaysia.
Scientific Name – Nephelium mutabile

Pulasan tree is a tropical ornamental tree, growing 10-15 m tall, with short trunk, 30-40 cm diameter. The branches are brown and hairy when young. The pinnate leaves are alternate, 17-45 cm long, with 2-5 pairs of opposite leaflets, oblong or elliptic-lanceolate, 6-17.5 cm long and 5 cm wide. The leaves are dark-green, slightly wavy on the upper side, and pale bluish-green with few hairs on the underside. The petaless flowers are small, greenish, with 4-5 hairy sepals, borne singly or in clusters, on erect, axillaries or terminal branches. The panicles are covered with fine yellowish or brownish hairs. The fruit is 5-7.5 cm long, ovoid, red or dark-red in color. The fruit is covered with short, stiff, fleshy straight spines, 1 cm long.

This ovoid dark red colour fruit has a thick, leathery rind closely set with narrowed, blunt tipped tubercles. The straight spines of the fruit grow up to 1 cm long. The oblong shaped seed appears to be flattened on one side with grayish brown in colour. On by twisting the fruit with both the hands, the fruit can be opened and the flesh can be consumed.

Pulasan is juicy and sweet, usually eaten fresh, though it resembles much like Rambutan, it is different from Rambutan and haves its own characteristics. Pulasan is sweeter than rambutan and lychee.  The wood is light red, harder and heavier than that of rambutan. The decotion of the fruit is highly used bathing fever patients. There are two varieties of Pulasan one is dark red and the other one is light red.

The dark red fruit haves a seed that separates easily from the flesh whereas the light red fruit haves a seed that sticks on to the flesh of the fruit.  The seed of pulasan can be eaten raw, and has a flavor quite similar to that of almonds.

Pulasan is propagated by seeds which can be either male or female, but there are a number of named varieties propagated by grafting and air layering.  The seeds lose viability quickly, and should not be allowed to dry out. Germination occurs in 10-15 days. Seed propagation is not usually preferred, as the trees may be males or have fruit of inferior quality. Both bud and approach grafting are used. Grafted trees begin to produce fruit at about 3-5 years.

The most important related species is the rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum), but there are at least 30 other wild species of Nephelium with edible fruits.

The pulasan is primarily eaten fresh, but can also be used in jams and juices.

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Posted in MALI

Musim Panas dan Musim Buah Mangga

Sekarang ni musim panas di Mali.  Musim Panas biasanya bermula dalam bulan Januari atau Februari dan biasanya berakhir dalam Julai atau Ogos bilamana musim hujan akan tiba….namun musim hujannya tidaklah seperti musim hujan ditempat kita. Dua bulan lalu di minggu ketiga bulan January 2008 ketika baru tiba di Bamako Mali untuk kali keempat, cuaca masih agak sejuk, walaupun panas matahari terik tapi tiupan anginnya sejuk, terasa dalam sekitar 23-24C dan malam harinya bertambah sejuk dalam sekitar 18-20C.   Bangun pagi airnya dingin sekali perlu water heater  untuk air mandi panas.   Tapi ini kepada yang mampu sahaja, yang tidak mampu pada kemewahan seperti itu tidak perlulah mandi dipagi hari……….

Musim Panas dan Buah Mangga

Sungai Niger (Koulikoro)

Dipertengahan bulan Februari lalu cuaca dah panas tapi sekitar 33C sahaja dan malam hari masih sejuk kerana adanya tiupan angin.  Disiang hari kelihatan seperti jerebu kerana angin datang membawa debu.  Rumah atau peralatan dalam rumah perlu dibersihkan, kalau boleh dua kali sehari tapi saya tak mampu melakukan kerana tidak punya pembantu rumah yang ramai.  Saya hanya punya satu orang yang datang membersihkan lantai sahaja setiap pagi.  Golongan yang mampu disini memang mempunyai pembantu setidak-tidaknya dua atau tiga orang.  Seorang menjadi penjaga rumah dan yang lain pembantu rumah malah yang mampu mempunyai lebih dari tiga orang. 

Musim Panas dan Buah Mangga

Sungai Niger (Bamako) 

Mulai minggu lalu cuaca bertambah panas, cuaca disiang hari dah menjadi 40C dan malam hari terasa dalam sekitar 23C.  Terasa sangat panas kerana minggu ni tidak ada tiupan angina jadi bahang panas amat terasa.  Dimalam hari memang bahang panasnya terasa amat sangat tambah pula tiada angin sejuk bertiup.  Apatah lagi bahang dalam rumah, jadi lebih selesa berada di luar rumah.  Sudah menjadi budaya disini, setiap petang setelah teduh dan mandi petang mereka akan berkumpul hingga ke malam malah ada masanya hingga  ke dini hari berbual dan minum teh. 

Ya, panas dan kehangatan sudah amat terasa, yang amat dibimbangi ketika musim panas ni ialah terputusnya bekalan air dan bekalan elektrik makin kerap. Hari ini sahaja sudah tiga kali bekalan elektrik terputus.  Tetapi selalunya putus bekalan elektrik atau air selalu agak sekejap mungkin kerana catuan bekalan. 

Terasa tahun ni cuaca panas melebihi dari apa yang pernah dialami ditahun lalu.  Lebih membimbangkan ialah air sungai akan bertambah kering atau memang sudah kering, jadi tanaman para petani tidak mungkin akan menghasilkan tuaian yang diidamkan.  Dikhuatiri mungkin tanaman boleh mati.  Tanaman padi, kentang, millet, ubi kayu, pisang, limau, betik dan sayuran seperti tomato, bawang, kacang dan lain banyak ditanam dikampung-kampung.

Musim Panas dan Musim Buah Mangga

Tanaman Bawang (Bandiagara)

Tapi yang saya nantikan dimusim ini ialah kedatangan buah mangga.  Musim buah tembikai sudah berlalu sebulan lalu.  Sekarang sudah tiba musim buah mangga.   Dimana-mana kelihatan pohon mangga berbunga malah sudah ada yang sudah berbuah.   Dalam perjalanan ada juga kelihatan para petani sudah mula berjualan ditepi jalan, namun  dipasar atau dijalanan Bamako belum lagi kelihatan jualan mangga. 

Musim Panas dan Buah Mangga

Bunga Mangga

Jenis mangga disini diberitahu oleh teman-teman, ada bermacam-macam namun yang biasa dan ada terjual ialah; Griffe atau Gill, Americain, Miska, Noungourouni dan Soumale.

Musim Panas dan Buah Mangga

Mangga Miska

Yang paling saya suka ialah mangga jenis Griffe dan Americain.  Saiznya besar dan mempunyai berat lebih kurang 300 gram sebiji, rasanya pun enak.  Miska juga enak rasanya tetapi bersaiz kecil satu pertiga dari saiz Griffe, dan mempunyai banyak air.  Orang disini siuka makan mangga Miska begitu sahaja tanpa dibuang kulitnya.  Harganya pula berbeza bergantung kepada lokasi.  Jika di Bamako harga mangga sekitar FCFA1,000 (~USD2.00) satu kilogram tetapi di luar Bamako biasanya dijual dalam kiraan longgok, satu longgok FCFA1,000.  Jika dihitung, bilangan buah dalam satu longgok lebih banyak dari yang jual secara kiraan berat.

Musim Panas dan Buah Mangga

Mangga Americain

Ada perusahaan disini yang membuat jus minuman asli dari buah mangga.  Malah jus buah-buahan lain juga seperti jambu batu, nenas, asam jawa, betik atau halia.

Inilah salah satu hasil pertanian Negara Mali.  Pertanian moden mungkin mengambil masa yang lebih lama untuk dipraktikkan walaupun banyak bantuan telah dan sedang diberikan oleh agensi antarabangsa seperti FAO dan USAID.  Apakah bezaya dengan negara kita, pertanian masih ditahap lama, tidak moden dan tidak memberikan pulangan yang baik.

mamadou