Sometimes it is the most underrated and under-appreciated of things that emerge as the show-stealer. In the case of Vizag, it could well be the humble jackfruit that is set to create a home-grown fine wine revolution. This bright green and fantastic fruit, grown in abundance in the Araku region, will soon be a major draw for tourists from across the country and abroad, once the Girijan Cooperative Corporation (GCC)’s pilot project of making jackfruit wine gets completed. For who can resist the temptation for something that manages to be both fruity and held down, yet jaunty and refreshing at the same time? And if all goes well, Vizag could well be known for its jackfruit wines just the way Goa is synonymous with its locally produced alcoholic spirit feni.
Metroplus got a chance to taste the first version of the jackfruit wine and it surely felt like a winner! If there’s an obvious fresh fruit, it reaches in that direction and yet never quite gets there. Toasty and fruity, the aroma seems unlikely for a wine of such junior age and modest alcohol. To drink, it’s a bit gooey. If you don’t like acid, this can be somewhat reassuring, and perhaps even comforting wine. It’s soft without being sweet. Clean and white, it creates the luscious mouth-feel and gives us just a kiss of jackfruit.
The first trial session of producing the jackfruit wine has got a thumbs-up from Mysore’s Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI). Buoyed by the initial positive response, GCC is determined to further refine it to turn it into the best of fine wines available in the market and a signature wine of Araku. “CFTRI gave us a very encouraging feedback and said it was a good sample. In the first samples, the alcohol content is around 5 % which can be enhanced to 7 % with some modifications. The final sample will be the best versions and we are working hard on it,” says GCC Managing Director A.S.P.S. Ravi Prakash. A team will head to CFTRI next month to get training on improving the current version of jackfruit wine. Once the final version is tried and tested, it might just become your new favourite!
The national fruit of Bangladesh, jackfruit is sustainable, organic and GMO-free. India produces approximately 70 percent of the world’s crop. In peak season, Vizag alone produces 100 lorry loads of the fruit, with each load having 10 tonnes of jackfruit. These enormous jackfruits are scattered all over the Agency Area. “We saw that it was one of the most underutilized crops that the farmers in the tribal areas could capitalise on. Even after local demands are met, huge loads of these fruits are wasted or left unused,” Prakash says. GCC’s plan is to have a small plant that would make the wines in Araku and offer training to the locals.
The process of making
We learnt the process of making the jackfruit wine from the experienced and friendly J. Yustus, Deputy General Manager of GCC, who is overseeing the wine project. “It is a simple, linear process. Just that the measurements should be perfect,” he explains. For making the wine, the bulbs are cut into small pieces, boiled and then ground. Sugar syrup is made separately and set aside. “For every 2 kg of bulb, we use 500 gms of sugar,” he adds.
After adding warm water (3 litres) to the ground bulbs, sugar syrup and yeast is added for fermentation. This concoction is then kept in a mud pot at a dark place for 18 days. Finally, the top part of the liquid is filtered out for the wine. “The CFTRI directed us to carry out some minor corrections and adjustments to improve on the final product. Adding some other catalysts other than yeast will help enhance the alcohol percentage.
There are plans to also introduce a non-alcoholic version of jackfruit drink in tetra packs,” says Yustus. GCC isn’t stopping just at this. To make its signature jackfruit wine of a world-class standard, it is planning to also reach out to the Defence Food Research Laboratory for further inputs and has already collected samples from Coorg where jackfruit wines are produced at the homes of local villagers. While this season of jackfruit is coming to an end, get ready to clink your wine glasses and say cheers to Araku’s signature jackfruit wine which is coming soon.