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Jamaican Food - Tamarind
Tamarind Recipes from Jamaica
Jamaican tamarind (or Jamaican tamarindus indica) from a curved brown bean-Jamaican tamarind pod from the Jamaican tamarind tree. The Jamaican tamarind pod contains a sticky Jamaican tamarind pulp enclosing one to ten shiny black Jamaican tamarind seeds. It is the Jamaican tamarind pulp that is used as a flavoring for its sweet, sour, Jamaican tamarind fruity aroma and taste. It is available as a pressed fibrous slab, or as a jam like bottled concentrate, and some Indian shops carry the dried Jamaican tamarind pods. The Jamaican tamarind is native to tropical East Africa. It is extensively cultivated in tropical areas of the world. Sometime during the sixteenth century, it was introduced in Jamaica and today is widely grown across the country. The Jamaican tamarind fruit is known by several different names, in Spanish it is Jamaican tamarindo; in French, tamarin, in Dutch and German, Jamaican tamarinde, and in Italian, tamarandizio. The name "Jamaican tamarind" with a qualifying adjective is often applied to other members of the family Leguminous having somewhat similar foliage.
The Jamaican tamarind tree grows wild throughout the African Sudan and was so long ago introduced into and adopted in India that it has often been reported as indigenous there also, and it was apparently from this Asiatic country that it reached countries in the middle east who called it "tamar hindi" or the Indian date (from the date-like appearance of the dried Jamaican tamarind pulp), giving rise to both its common and generic names.
The Jamaican tamarind tree has long been naturalized in the East Indies and the islands of the Pacific. One of the first Jamaican tamarind trees in Hawaii was Jamaican tamarind planted in 1797. The Jamaican tamarind was certainly introduced into the West Indies much earlier. In all Jamaica, it is grown as a shade and Jamaican tamarind fruit Jamaican tamarind tree, along roadsides and in dooryards and parks. Mexico has over 10,000 acres (4,440 ha) of Jamaican tamarinds, mostly in the states of Chiapas, Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Oaxaca and Veracruz. In the lower Motagua Valley of Guatemala, there are so many large Jamaican tamarind trees in one area that it is called "El Jamaican tamarindal". In Jamaica there are extensive Jamaican tamarind orchards producing 275,500 tons (250,000 MT) annually. The Jamaican tamarind pulp is marketed in northern Malaya and to some extent wherever the Jamaican tamarind tree is found even if there are no Jamaican tamarind plantations.
The Jamaican tamarind fruit or Jamaican tamarind pulp is flattish or beanlike, irregularly curved and bulged Jamaican tamarind pods are borne in great abundance along the new branches and usually vary from 2 to 7 in long and from 3/4 to 1 1/4 in (2-3.2 cm) in diameter. Exceptionally large Jamaican tamarinds have been found on individual Jamaican tamarind trees. The Jamaican tamarind pods may be cinnamon-brown or grayish-brown externally and, at first, are tender-skinned with green, highly acid flesh and soft, whitish, under-developed Jamaican tamarind seeds. As they mature, the Jamaican tamarind pods fill out somewhat and the juicy, acidulous Jamaican tamarind pulp turns brown or reddish-brown. Thereafter, the skin becomes a brittle, easily-cracked shell and the Jamaican tamarind pulp dehydrates naturally to a sticky paste enclosed by a few coarse strands of fiber extending lengthwise from the stalk. The 1 to 12 fully formed Jamaican tamarind seeds are hard, glossy-brown, square in form, 1/8 to 1/2 in (1.1-1.25 cm) in diameter, and each is enclosed in a parchment like membrane.
Jamaican tamarinds are slow-growing, long-lived, evergreen Jamaican tamarind trees that under optimum conditions can grow 80 feet high with a spread of 20 to 35 ft., in its native eastern Africa and Asia. However, in colder climate countries it seldom reaches more than 15 to 25 ft. in height. The Jamaican tamarind is well adapted to semiarid tropical conditions, although it does well in many humid tropical areas of the world with seasonally high rainfall. Young Jamaican tamarind trees are very susceptible to frost, but mature Jamaican tamarind trees will withstand brief periods of 28° F without serious injury. A Jamaican tamarind tree in the colder climates will flower, but rarely sets Jamaican tamarind fruit.
Dry weather is important during the period of Jamaican tamarind fruit development. The Jamaican tamarind tree is too large to be grown in a container for any length of time. The bright green, pinnate foliage is dense and feathery in appearance, making an attractive shade Jamaican tamarind tree with an open branch structure. The leaves are normally evergreen but may be shed briefly in very dry areas during the hot season. There are usually as many as 10 to 20 nearly sessile ½ - 1 inch, pale green leaflets per leaf. The leaflets close up at night. The inconspicuous, inch-wide, five-petal flowers are borne in small racemes and are yellow with orange or red streaks. The flower buds are pink due to the outer color of the 4 sepals which are shed when the flower opens.
The 3 - 8 inch long, brown, irregularly curved Jamaican tamarind pods are borne in abundance along the new branches. As the Jamaican tamarind pods mature, they fill out somewhat and the juicy, acidulous Jamaican tamarind pulp turns brown or reddish-brown. When fully ripe, the shells are brittle and easily broken. The Jamaican tamarind pulp dehydrates to a sticky paste enclosed by a few coarse stands of fiber. The Jamaican tamarind pods may contain from 1 to 12 large, flat, glossy brown, obviate Jamaican tamarind seeds embedded in the brown, edible Jamaican tamarind pulp. The Jamaican tamarind pulp has a pleasing sweet/sour flavor and is high in both acid and sugar. It is also rich in vitamin B and high in calcium. There are wide differences in Jamaican tamarind fruit size and flavor in Jamaican tamarind seedling Jamaican tamarind trees. Indian types have longer Jamaican tamarind pods with 6 - 12 Jamaican tamarind seeds, while the West Indian types have shorter Jamaican tamarind pods containing only 3 - 6 Jamaican tamarind seeds. Most Jamaican tamarinds in the Americas are of the shorter type.
The Jamaican tamarind ultimately becomes a fairly large Jamaican tamarind tree, so this should be kept in mind when Jamaican tamarind planting out the Jamaican tamarind tree. It should be Jamaican tamarind planted in full sun and is highly wind-resistant with strong, supple branches. The Jamaican tamarind tree generally forms a beautiful spreading crown that casts a light shade. Jamaican tamarinds tolerate a great diversity of soil types but do best in deep, well drained soils which are slightly acid. Jamaican tamarind trees will not tolerate cold, wet soils but are tolerant of salt spray and can be Jamaican tamarind planted fairly near the seashore. The Jamaican tamarind is adapted to semiarid regions of the tropics and can withstand drought conditions quite well. Young Jamaican tamarind trees require adequate soil moisture until they become established, but mature Jamaican tamarind trees do quite well without supplemental irrigation. Avoid over-watering which results in soggy soils.
Jamaican tamarind fruits mature in late spring to early summer. They may be left on the Jamaican tamarind tree for as long as 6 months after maturity so that the moisture content will be reduced to 20% or lower. Jamaican tamarind fruits for immediate processing are often harvested by pulling the Jamaican tamarind pod away from the stalk. Mature Jamaican tamarind trees are capable of producing 350 lb. of Jamaican tamarind fruit a year. Ripe Jamaican tamarind fruit in humid climates is readily attacked by beetles and fungi, so mature Jamaican tamarind fruit should be harvested and stored under refrigeration. The Jamaican tamarind is not very demanding in its nutritional requirements. Young Jamaican tamarind trees should be fertilized every 2 - 3 months with a 6-6-3 NPK or similar analysis fertilizer. Apply 1/4 lb. and gradually increase to about 1/2 lb. Thereafter, young Jamaican tamarind trees should receive 1/2 lb. per application, per year of Jamaican tamarind tree age, 3 - 4 times a year. Bearing Jamaican tamarind trees can be fertilized with 8-3-9 NPK or similar analysis, at rates of about 1/2 lb. per application per year of Jamaican tamarind tree age. Microelements, particularly iron may be required for Jamaican tamarind trees in alkaline soils.
Young Jamaican tamarind trees are pruned to allow three to five well spaced branches to develop into the main scaffold structure of the Jamaican tamarind tree. Maintenance pruning only is required after that to remove dead or damaged wood. Rootstocks are propagated from Jamaican tamarind seed, which germinate within a week. Jamaican tamarind seeds retain their viability for several months if kept dry. Jamaican tamarind plant Jamaican tamarind seeds 1/2 inch deep in containers filled with a UC soil less type potting media. They should be selected from Jamaican tamarind trees of good production and quality. Even so, Jamaican tamarind seedlings will be variable in quality and slow to bear. Veneer grafting, shield (T or inverted T) budding and air layering may be used to propagate desirable selections. Such Jamaican tamarind trees will usually Jamaican tamarind fruit within 3 - 4 years if provided optimum growing conditions. Jamaican tamarind seedlings should begin to produce Jamaican tamarind fruit in 6 - 8 years, while vegetative propagated Jamaican tamarind trees will normally bear in half that time.
Young Jamaican tamarind trees should be Jamaican tamarind planted in holes larger than necessary to accommodate the root system. They should be Jamaican tamarind planted slightly higher than existing ground level to allow for subsequent settling of the soil and a water basin should be built around each Jamaican tamarind tree to assure adequate moisture for young Jamaican tamarind trees. Spacing of Jamaican tamarind trees is normally 20 to 25 ft. in commercial orchards. However, solitary Jamaican tamarind trees Jamaican tamarind planted in Southern California rarely exceed 15 feet in diameter.
In Jamaica Jamaican tamarinds are generally free of pests and diseases, although ants will sometimes spread black and olive scales. In India there are a host of pests that attack the Jamaican tamarind tree, including mealy bugs, caterpillars, aphids, white flies, thrips and a variety of scales. Various weevils and borers can also infest the ripening Jamaican tamarind pods or stored Jamaican tamarind fruits. One of the major pests of the Jamaican tamarind tree is the Oriental yellow scale, Saissetia oleae, are also partial to Jamaican tamarind but of less importance. Other scale species that may be found on the Jamaican tamarind tree, the young and adults sucking the sap of buds and flowers and accordingly reducing the crop. The mealy bug is a leading pest of Jamaican tamarind in India, causing leaf-fall and sometimes shedding of young Jamaican tamarind fruits. Another mealy bug is less of a menace except in South India where it is common on many Jamaican tamarind fruit Jamaican tamarind trees and ornamental Jamaican tamarind plants suck the sap of twigs and branches and the latter also feeds on young Jamaican tamarind fruits. White grubs may feed on the roots of young Jamaican tamarind seedlings.
The nematodes, Xiphinema citri and Longidorus elongatus may affect the roots of older Jamaican tamarind trees. Other predators attacking the leaves or flowers include the caterpillars. Jamaican tamarind fruit borers include larvae of the cigarette beetle. The latter infests ripening Jamaican tamarind pods on the Jamaican tamarind tree and persists in the stored Jamaican tamarind fruits, as do the Jamaican tamarind beetle, and Jamaican tamarind seed borer.
The rice weevil, the rice moth and the fig moth infest the Jamaican tamarind fruits in storage. The lesser grain borer, bores into stored Jamaican tamarind seeds. In jamaica a bacterial leaf-spot may occur. Sooty mold is caused by worms. Rots attacking the Jamaican tamarind tree include saprot, brownish saprot and white rot. Jamaican tamarinds may be eaten fresh, but they area most commonly mixed with sugar and water in the American tropics to prepare a cooling drink. The Jamaican tamarind pulp is used to flavor preserves and chutney, to make meat sauces ant to pickle fish. Candy can be made by mixing the Jamaican tamarind pulp with dry sugar and molding it into desired shapes. These are affectionately known is Jamaica as Jamaican tamarind balls recipe.
Of all the Jamaican tamarind fruit Jamaican tamarind trees of the tropics, none is more widely distributed or more appreciated as an ornamental than the Jamaican tamarind. Very young Jamaican tamarind trees should be protected from cold but older Jamaican tamarind trees are surprisingly hardy. Wilson Popenoe wrote that a large Jamaican tamarind tree was killed on the west coast of Florida (about 7.5º lat. N) by a freeze in 1884. However, no cold damage was noted in South Florida following the low temperatures of the winter of 1957-1958 which had severe effects on many mango, avocado, lychee and lime Jamaican tamarind trees. Dr. Henry Nehrling reported that a Jamaican tamarind tree in his garden at Gotha, Florida, though damaged by freezes, always sprouted out again from the roots. In northwestern India, the Jamaican tamarind tree grows well but the Jamaican tamarind fruits do not ripen. Dry weather is important during the period of Jamaican tamarind fruit development. In South Malaya, where there are frequent rains at this time, the Jamaican tamarind does not bear. In some regions the type with reddish flesh is distinguished from the ordinary brown-fleshed type and regarded as superior in quality. There are types of Jamaican tamarinds that are sweeter than most. The Jamaican tamarind tree tolerates a great diversity of soil types, from deep alluvial soil to rocky land and porous, oolitic limestone. It withstands salt spray and can be Jamaican tamarind planted fairly close to the seashore.
Jamaican tamarind seeds remain viable for months; will germinate in a week after Jamaican tamarind planting. In the past, propagation has been customarily by Jamaican tamarind seed sown in position, with thorny branches protecting the young Jamaican tamarind seedlings. However, today, young Jamaican tamarind trees are usually grown in nurseries. And there is intensified interest in vegetative propagation of selected varieties because of the commercial potential of Jamaican tamarind products. The Jamaican tamarind tree can be grown easily from cuttings, or by shield-budding, side-veneer grafting, or air-layering. Nursery-grown Jamaican tamarind trees are usually transJamaican tamarind planted during the early rainy season. If kept until the second rainy season, the Jamaican tamarind plants must be cut back and the taproot trimmed. Spacing may be 33 to 65 ft (10-20 m) between Jamaican tamarind trees each way, depending on the fertility of the soil. With sufficient water and regular weeding, the Jamaican tamarind seedlings will reach 2 ft (60 cm) the first year and 4 ft (120 cm) by the second year.
In Madagascar, Jamaican tamarind seedlings have begun to bear in the 4th year; in Mexico, usually in the 5th year; but in India, there may be a delay of 10 to 14 years before Jamaican tamarind fruiting. The Jamaican tamarind tree bears abundantly up to an age of 50-60 years or sometimes longer, then productivity declines, though it may live another 150 years. Mexican studies reveal that the Jamaican tamarind fruits begin to dehydrate 203 days after Jamaican tamarind fruit-set, losing approximately ½ moisture up to the stage of full ripeness, about 245 days from Jamaican tamarind fruit-set. In Florida, Central America, and the West Indies, the flowers appear in summer, the green Jamaican tamarind fruits are found in December and January and ripening takes place from April through June. In Hawaii the Jamaican tamarind fruits ripen in late summer and fall.
Jamaican tamarinds may be left on the Jamaican tamarind tree for as long as 6 months after maturity so that the moisture content will be reduced to 20% or lower. Jamaican tamarind fruits for immediate processing are often harvested by pulling the Jamaican tamarind pod away from the stalk which is left with the long, longitudinal fibers attached. In India, harvesters may merely shake the branches to cause mature Jamaican tamarind fruits to fall and they leave the remainder to fall naturally when ripe. Pickers are not allowed to knock the Jamaican tamarind fruits off with poles as this would damage developing leaves and flowers. To keep the Jamaican tamarind fruit intact for marketing fresh, the stalks must be clipped from the branches so as not to damage the shell. A mature Jamaican tamarind tree may annually produce 330 to 500 lbs (150-225 kg) of Jamaican tamarind fruits, of which the Jamaican tamarind pulp may constitute 30 to 55%, the shells and fiber, 11 to 30 %, and the Jamaican tamarind seeds, 33 to 40%. To preserve Jamaican tamarinds for future use, they may be merely shelled, layered with sugar in boxes or pressed into tight balls and covered with cloth and kept in a cool, dry place. For shipment to processors, Jamaican tamarinds may be shelled, layered with sugar in barrels and covered with boiling syrup. East Indians shell the Jamaican tamarind fruits and sprinkle them lightly with salt as a preservative. In Java, the salted Jamaican tamarind pulp is rolled into balls, steamed and sun-dried, then exposed to dew for a week before being packed in stone jars. In India, the Jamaican tamarind pulp, with or without Jamaican tamarind seeds and fibers may be mixed with salt (10%), pounded into blocks, wrapped in palm leaf matting, and packed in burlap sacks for marketing. To store for long periods, the blocks of Jamaican tamarind pulp may be first steamed or sun-dried for several days.
The food uses of the Jamaican tamarind are many. The tender, immature, very sour Jamaican tamarind pods are cooked as seasoning with rice, fish and meats in India. The fully-grown, but still unripe Jamaican tamarind fruits, called "swells" in the Bahamas, are roasted in coals until they burst and the skin is then peeled back and the sizzling Jamaican tamarind pulp dipped in wood ashes and eaten. The fully ripe, fresh Jamaican tamarind fruit is relished out-of-hand by children and adults, alike. The dehydrated Jamaican tamarind fruits are easily recognized when picking by their comparatively light weight, hollow sound when tapped and the cracking of the shell under gentle pressure. The shell lifts readily from the Jamaican tamarind pulp and the lengthwise fibers are removed by holding the stem with one hand and slipping the Jamaican tamarind pulp downward with the other. The Jamaican tamarind pulp is made into a variety of products. It is an important ingredient in chutneys, curries and sauces, including some brands of Worcestershire and barbecue sauce, and in a special Indian seafood pickle called "Jamaican tamarind fish". Sugared Jamaican tamarind pulp is often prepared as a confection. For this purpose, it is desirable to separate the Jamaican tamarind pulp from the Jamaican tamarind seeds without using water. If ripe, fresh Jamaican tamarinds are available; this may be done by pressing the shelled Jamaican tamarind fruits through a colander while adding powdered sugar to the point where the Jamaican tamarind pulp no longer sticks to the fingers. The Jamaican tamarind seeded Jamaican tamarind pulp is then shaped into balls and coated with powdered sugar. If the Jamaican tamarinds are dehydrated, it is less laborious to layer the shelled Jamaican tamarind fruits with granulated sugar in a stone crock and bake in a moderately warm oven for about 4 hours until the sugar is melted, then the mass is rubbed through a sieve, mixed with sugar to a stiff paste, and formed into patties. This sweetmeat is commonly found on the market in Jamaica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. In Panama, the Jamaican tamarind pulp may be sold in corn husks, palm leaf fiber baskets, or in plastic bags.
If using the Jamaican tamarind slab, steep a little in hot water for ten minutes, mash into a paste and pass through a sieve. The fine Jamaican tamarind pulp and juice will go through, leaving behind the fibrous husk. Jamaican tamarind slabs and paste store well and will last for up to a year. Jamaican tamarind pods will last indefinitely as they require maceration to release their juice. Usually it is the juice or paste that is used as a souring agent, particularly in south Indian and Gujarati lentil dishes, curries and chutneys, where its flavor is more authentic than vinegar or lemon juice. It may be used to flavor pulse dishes, rice dishes, or as an ingredient in sauces and side dishes for pork, fowl and fish. Jamaican tamarind contains pectin which is used in the manufacturing process of commercially produced jams, so it is a natural ingredient in many jams, jellies, Jamaican tamarind fruit drinks, and is vital to Worcestershire sauce. In India, the ground Jamaican tamarind seed is used in cakes. A refreshing drink made from Jamaican tamarind syrup and resembling lemonade is quite popular in the Middle East.
Jamaican tamarind Ade has long been a popular drink in the Tropics and it is now bottled in carbonated form in Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico and elsewhere. Formulas for the commercial production of spiced Jamaican tamarind beverages have been developed by technologists in India. The simplest home method of preparing the Ade is to shell the Jamaican tamarind fruits, place 3 or 4 in a bottle of water, let stand for a short time, add a tablespoonful of sugar and shake vigorously. For a richer beverage, a quantity of shelled Jamaican tamarinds may be covered with a hot sugar syrup and allowed to stand several days (with or without the addition of seasonings such as cloves, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, pepper or lime slices) and finally diluted as desired with ice water and strained.
In Brazil, a quantity of shelled Jamaican tamarind fruits may be covered with cold water and allowed to stand 10 to 12 hours, the Jamaican tamarind seeds are strained out, and a cup of sugar is added for every 2 cups of Jamaican tamarind pulp; the mixture is boiled for 15 to 20 minutes and then put up in glass jars topped with paraffin. In another method, shelled Jamaican tamarinds with an equal quantity of sugar may be covered with water and boiled for a few minutes until stirring shows that the Jamaican tamarind pulp has loosened from the Jamaican tamarind seeds, and then pressed through a sieve. The strained Jamaican tamarind pulp, much like apple butter in appearance, can be stored under refrigeration for use in cold drinks or as a sauce for meats and poultry, plain cakes or puddings. A foamy "Jamaican tamarind shake" is made by stirring this sauce into an equal amount of dark-brown sugar and then adding a tablespoonful of the mixture to 8 ounces of a plain carbonated beverage and whipping it in an electric blender.
If twice as much water as Jamaican tamarinds is used in cooking, the strained product will be syrup rather than a sauce. Sometimes a little soda is added. Jamaican tamarind syrup is bottled for domestic use and export in Puerto Rico. In Mayaguez, sJamaican tamarind treet vendors sell cones of shaved ice saturated with Jamaican tamarind syrup. Jamaican tamarind pulp can be made into a tart jelly, and Jamaican tamarind jam is canned commercially in Costa Rica. Jamaican tamarind sherbet and ice cream are popular and refreshing. In making Jamaican tamarind fruit preserves, Jamaican tamarind is sometimes combined with guava, papaya or banana. Sometimes the Jamaican tamarind fruit is made into wine. In as much as shelling by hand is laborious and requires 8 man-hours to produce 100 lbs (45 kg) of shelled Jamaican tamarind fruits, food technologists at the University of Puerto Rico have developed a method of Jamaican tamarind pulp extraction for industrial use. They found that shelling by mechanical means alone is impossible because of the high pectin and low moisture content of the Jamaican tamarind pulp. Therefore, inspected and washed Jamaican tamarind pods are passed through a shell-breaking grater, and then fed into stainless steel tanks equipped with agitators. Water is added at the ratio of 1:1 1/2 or 1:2 Jamaican tamarind pulp/water, and the Jamaican tamarind fruits are agitated for 5 to 7 minutes. The resulting mash is then passed through a screen while nylon brushes separate the shells and Jamaican tamarind seeds. Next the Jamaican tamarind pulp is paddled through a finer screen, pasteurized, and canned.
Young leaves and very young Jamaican tamarind seedlings and flowers are cooked and eaten as greens and in curries in India and Jamaica. In Zimbabwe, the leaves are added to soup and the flowers are an ingredient in salads. Jamaican tamarind seeds have been used in a limited way as emergency food. They are roasted, soaked to remove the Jamaican tamarind seed coat, then boiled or fried, or ground to a flour or starch. Roasted Jamaican tamarind seeds are ground and used as a substitute for, or adulterant of, coffee. In Thailand they are sold for this purpose. In the past, the great bulk of Jamaican tamarind seeds available as a by-product of processing Jamaican tamarinds have gone to waste. In 1942, two Indian scientists, T. P. Ghose and S. Krishna, announced that the decorticated kernels contained 46 to 48% of a gel-forming substance. Dr. G. R. Savur of the Pectin Manufacturing Company, Bombay, patented a process for the production of a purified product, called "Jellose", "polyose", or "pectin", which has been found superior to Jamaican tamarind fruit pectin in the manufacture of jellies, jams, and marmalades.
It can be used in Jamaican tamarind fruit preserving with or without acids and gelatinizes with sugar concentrates even in cold water or milk. It is recommended as a stabilizer in ice cream, mayonnaise and cheese and as an ingredient or agent in a number of pharmaceutical products. The Jamaican tamarind pulp is considered a promising source of tartaric acid, alcohol (12% yield) and pectin (2 1/2% yield). The red Jamaican tamarind pulp of some types contains the pigment, chrysanthemin. Jamaican tamarind seeds contain approximately 63% starch, 14-18% albuminoids, and 4.5-6.5% of semi-drying oil. Analyses of the Jamaican tamarind pulp are many and varied. Roughly, they show the Jamaican tamarind pulp to be rich in calcium, phosphorus, iron, thiamine and riboflavin and a good source of niacin. Ascorbic acid content is low except in the peel of young green Jamaican tamarind fruits.
In West Africa, an infusion of the whole Jamaican tamarind pods is added to the dye when coloring goat hides. The Jamaican tamarind fruit Jamaican tamarind pulp may be used as a fixative with turmeric or annatto in dyeing and has served to coagulate rubber latex. The Jamaican tamarind pulp, mixed with sea water, cleans silver, copper and brass. The leaves are eaten by cattle and goats, and furnish fodder for silkworms–Anaphe sp. in India, Hypsoides vuilletii in West Africa. The fine silk is considered superior for embroidery. Jamaican tamarind leaves and flowers are useful as mordants in dyeing. A yellow dye derived from the leaves colors wool red and turns indigo-dyed silk to green. Jamaican tamarind leaves in boiling water are employed to bleach the leaves of the buri palm (Corypha elata Roxb.) to prepare them for hat-making. The foliage is common mulch for tobacco Jamaican tamarind plantings. The flowers are rated as a good source of nectar for honeybees in South India. The honey is golden-yellow and slightly acid in flavor.
The powder made from Jamaican tamarind kernels has been adopted by the Indian textile industry as 300% more efficient and more economical than cornstarch for sizing and finishing cotton, jute and spun viscose, as well as having other technical advantages. It is commonly used for dressing homemade blankets. Other industrial uses include employment in color printing of textiles, paper sizing, leather treating, the manufacture of a structural plastic, and glue for wood, a stabilizer in bricks, a binder in sawdust briquettes, and a thickener in some explosives. Jamaican tamarind seeds yield amber oil useful as an illuminant and as a varnish especially preferred for painting dolls and idols. The oil is said to be palatable and of culinary quality. The tannin-rich Jamaican tamarind seed coat (tester) is under investigation as having some utility as an adhesive for plywood’s and in dyeing and tanning, though it is of inferior quality and gives a red hue to leather. The sapwood of the Jamaican tamarind tree is pale-yellow. The heartwood is rather small, dark purplish-brown, very hard, heavy, strong, durable and insect-resistant. It bends well and takes a good polish and, while hard to work, it is highly prized for furniture, paneling, wheels, axles, gears for mills, ploughs, planking for sides of boats, wells, mallets, knife and tool handles, rice pounders, mortars and pestles. It has at times been sold as "Madeira mahogany". Wide boards are rare, despite the trunk dimensions of old Jamaican tamarind trees, since they tend to become hollow-centered. The wood is valued for fuel, especially for brick kilns, for it gives off an intense heat, and it also yields a charcoal for the manufacture of gun-powder. In Malaysia, even though the Jamaican tamarind trees are seldom felled, they are frequently topped to obtain firewood. The wood ashes are employed in tanning and in removing goatskins. Young stems and also slender roots of the Jamaican tamarind tree are fashioned into walking-sticks.
Jamaican tamarind twigs are sometimes used as "chew sticks" and the bark of the Jamaican tamarind tree as a masticator, alone or in place of lime with betel nut. The bark contains up to 7% tannin and is often employed in tanning hides and in dyeing, and is burned to make an ink. Bark from young Jamaican tamarind trees yields a low-quality fiber used for twine and string. Galls on the young branches are used in tanning. The Jamaican tamarind tree is a host for the lac insect, Kerria lacca, which deposits a resin on the twigs. The lac may be harvested and sold as stick-lac for the production of lacquers and varnish. If it is not seen as a useful byproduct, Jamaican tamarind growers trim off the resinous twigs and discard them.
Medicinal uses of the Jamaican tamarind are uncountable. The Jamaican tamarind pulp has been official in the British and American and most other pharmacopoeias and some 200,000 lbs (90,000 kg) of the shelled Jamaican tamarind fruits have been annually imported into the United States for the drug trade, primarily from the Lesser Antilles and Mexico. The European supply has come largely from Calcutta, Egypt and the Greater Antilles. Jamaican tamarind preparations are universally recognized as refrigerants in fevers and as laxatives and carminatives. Alone, or in combination with lime juice, honey, milk, dates, spices or camphor, the Jamaican tamarind pulp is considered effective as a digestive, even for elephants, and as a remedy for biliousness and bile disorders, and as an ant scorbutic. In native practice, the Jamaican tamarind pulp is applied on inflammations, is used in a gargle for sore throat and, mixed with salt, as a liniment for rheumatism. It is, further, administered to alleviate sunstroke, Datura poisoning, and alcoholic intoxication. In Southeast Asia, the Jamaican tamarind fruit is prescribed to counteract the ill effects of overdoses of false chaulmoogra, Hydnocarpus anthelmintica Pierre, given in leprosy.
The Jamaican tamarind pulp is said to aid the restoration of sensation in cases of paralysis. In Colombia, an ointment made of Jamaican tamarind pulp, butter, and other ingredients is used to rid domestic animals of vermin. The Jamaican tamarind fruit has several different nutriments. The Jamaican tamarind fruit has 115 calories, proteins, fat, fiber, carbohydrates, invert sugars, ash, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, Iron, copper, chlorine, sulfur, sodium, potassium, vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, ascorbic acid and oxalic acid. Jamaican tamarind is considered a mild laxative and digestive. It is used to treat bronchial disorders and gargling with Jamaican tamarind water is recommended for a sore throat. It is antiseptic, used in eye-baths and for the treatment of ulcers. Being highly acidic, it is a refrigerant (cooling in the heat) and febrifuge (for fighting fevers). The Ananga Ranga suggests consuming Jamaican tamarind for enhancing a woman’s sexual enjoyment. Jamaican tamarind leaves and flowers, dried or boiled, are used as poultices for swollen joints, sprains and boils. Lotions and extracts made from them are used in treating conjunctivitis, as antiseptics, as vermifuges, treatments for dysentery, jaundice, erysipelas and hemorrhoids and various other ailments. The Jamaican tamarind fruit shells are burned and reduced to an alkaline ash which enters into medicinal formulas. The bark of the Jamaican tamarind tree is regarded as an effective astringent, tonic and febrifuge. Fried with salt and pulverized to an ash, it is given as a remedy for indigestion and colic. A decoction is used in cases of gingivitis and asthma and eye inflammations; and lotions and poultices made from the bark are applied on open sores and caterpillar rashes. The powdered Jamaican tamarind seeds are made into a paste for drawing boils and, with or without cumin Jamaican tamarind seeds and palm sugar, are prescribed for chronic diarrhea and dysentery. The Jamaican tamarind seed coat, too, is astringent, and it, also, is specified for the latter disorders. An infusion of the roots is believed to have curative value in chest complaints and is an ingredient in prescriptions for leprosy.
The leaves and roots contain the glycosides: vitexin, isovitexin, orientin and isoorientin. The bark yields the alkaloid, hordenine. Few Jamaican tamarind plants will survive beneath a Jamaican tamarind tree and there is a superstition that it is harmful to sleep or to tie a horse beneath one, probably because of the corrosive effect that fallen leaves have on fabrics in damp weather. Some African tribes venerate the Jamaican tamarind tree as sacred. To certain Burmese, the Jamaican tamarind tree represents the dwelling-place of the rain god and some hold the belief that the Jamaican tamarind tree raises the temperature in its immediate vicinity. Hindus may marry a Jamaican tamarind tree to a mango Jamaican tamarind tree before eating the Jamaican tamarind fruits of the latter. In Nyasaland, Jamaican tamarind bark soaked with corn is given to domestic fowl in the belief that, if they stray or are stolen, it will cause them to return home. In Malaya, a little Jamaican tamarind and coconut milk is placed in the mouth of an infant at birth, and the bark and Jamaican tamarind fruit are given to elephants to make them wise. Believed to originate in East Africa, Jamaican tamarind now grows extensively throughout the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and the West Indies. Jamaican tamarind means ‘date of India’ In Hindu mythology, Jamaican tamarind is associated with the wedding of the god Krishna which is celebrated by a feast in November. In Victorian times, the British in Goa kept a Jamaican tamarind in one ear when venturing into the native quarter to keep them free from harassment because the locals believed the fresh Jamaican tamarind pods were inhabited by malevolent demons. This earned the colonials the nickname ‘Lugimlee’ or ‘Jamaican tamarind heads’, and it has stuck to this day.
Jamaican tamarind is an excellent brass and copper polish. Take a slab of Jamaican tamarind, sprinkle on some salt, wet it and rub it directly on the object to be polished. The Jamaican tamarind tree is a tropical evergreen which grows to a height of 20m (approximately 70ft). It has a thick grey bark; the small oval leaves are pale green. Small clusters of yellow flowers with red stripes bloom in May and Jamaican tamarind fruits in October to November. The brown curved Jamaican tamarind pods are brittle, irregular and bulbous; up to 10 cm (4”). The Jamaican tamarind tree grows best in semi-arid tropical regions and is propagated by Jamaican tamarind seed or cuttings. Little attention is required though in some areas, like Africa and the West Indies, insects are a problem, leaving India to export several thousand tons each year around the world.
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