The Indian cherry is what sits proudly atop a scoop of ice cream. It is widely used as a canned product
While smacking the lips after savouring an ice cream or pudding, how often do we think of the decorative, sweet, glossy red cherry on it? It is the canned ripe fruit of 'Karanda' or the Indian cherry plant. The plant is a hardy, straggly growing shrub, which can attain a height of two to three metres. As a garden plant, it is suitable as a protective hedge. A member of Apocynaceae plant family, it is native to India. Scientifically 'karanda' is Carissa carandas and is seldom known as Christ's thorn. In South India, the edible fruit of Karanda is 'Karakka'. The plant has numerous spreading and rigid branches with two sharp thorns on the axils of leaves. The faintly scented flowers, seen in small clusters on the branches, are white or pale rose coloured. The fruits are reddish purple or black when ripe. Two to four flat seeds are seen inside the ripe fruit. The tree blossoms in May - June and bears edible berry fruits in June - August. Karanda is conventionally propagated by seeds, budding or by air layering. The unripe fruits are commonly used for making pickles while the ripe fruits are nutritious and are often eaten fresh. The ripe fruits are also canned in sugar to prepare the 'red cherry'. Canning red cherryTo prepare the 'red cherry' for canning freshly collected fruits are cleaned and cut open by vertical incision to de-seed.
- These are then kept in two per cent clear lime solution with 10 per cent common salt for about five to six hours to remove the acid content.
- The fruits are then taken in a cotton cloth bag and immersed in boiling water for five minutes followed by immersing them in cold water to bring down the temperature.
- The fruits are then spread on a clean cotton cloth to remove the excess water.
- After this they are transferred into sugary syrup; prepared with a kg of table sugar in 500ml of water (for 1kg of fruits).
- Red or orange food dye can also be added to the syrup for imparting colour to the fruits (10ml of colour for the above preparation), if needed.
- Fruits are kept in this syrup for a day, during which water is forced out of the fruits into the syrup.
- After a day, the fruits are taken out of the syrup and the syrup is concentrated by boiling. This removes the excess water in it.
- Partially canned fruits are again transferred into this syrup and this procedure is repeated thrice.
- After this, the fruits are boiled in the syrup for a few minutes and are taken out of the boiled syrup and allowed to cool.
- Fresh syrup is prepared for the long time preservation of the canned fruits with one kg of table sugar in one litre of water.
- The fruits are transferred into this syrup and one gm of sodium benzoate and five gm of citric acid are added as preservatives.
- The canned 'karanda' or cherry fruits can be kept for many months in this syrup. J.V.JACOB VARGHESE