Drunken Elephants

Exotic desert fruits
is yellow, round, the size of a plum and makes elephants laugh?

OK. So you need another clue? It is
a hard fruit with a thick peel. In fact, the peel comprises 30% of the fruit’s
weight. The pulp is translucent white, highly aromatic and has a sweet-sour

Need another hint? Here’s the last
one: It belongs to the mango family.

Right, you guessed it! It is the marula.

Native to the wide, open plains of
southern Africa, the marula tree, which grows to a height of 25 meters, is
also known by the scientific name Sclerocarya birrea.

highly fragrant tropical tree is known to lure wild animals from miles around.
According to legend, elephants travel for days to reap the effects of the
marula fruit that ferments in the stomach. The elephants are said to eat
the fruit until they fall into a drunken stupor near the tree, giving it
the nickname of “elephant tree”.

The highly nutritious fruit contains
four-to-five times the vitamin C content of an orange, as well as polyphenols,
an anti-oxidant, and other nutritional fibers.

Researchers at Ben Gurion University
in Be’ersheva have domesticated the fruit of the marula tree. Today the tree
is grown in the western Negev by enterprising agriculturists. The fruits
are in season between July and February. The trees, which are native to a
tropical zone, require less than 1/3 of the water of average crops, an important
factor in desert agriculture. The fruits can be eaten fresh as well as imbibed.
To eat it as a fresh fruit, roll the fruit between your fingers, until the
pulp is soft. Once soft, pierce the skin and suck out the juice and pulp.

Koubo liqueur

@The Source Israel
visited Desert Exotics on a moshav in the Negev. The giant marula
trees were seen in the distance. Under the Desert Exotics label, three natural
gourmet liqueurs, including marula liqueur, are produced.

Text and photos
by M. Kaplan-Green.


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