By Marika Mohammed. It’s the first time I’ve heard of such a thing, balata. It has a nice ring to it though. Balata, like a song. But what is it really? Continuously awed of the things grown right here in Trinidad, balata is another little rare gem.
The rare balata
First off, it’s a fruit. It’s rare to see nowadays and the only way I got my hands on it was by going to the bush and talking to the old folk who lived there. They continuously told me that it’s something young people know nothing about, myself included.
Balata is brown on the outside and looks like a little cherry. It’s colour doesn’t mean it’s rotten, it means it’s ready to eat. The inside is white, soft and juicy. In the middle, sits a jet black pit. This is not edible.
The taste itself is strange to me and the only thing I could compare it to would be a plum. It goes to show we need to explore more of what Trinidad has to offer and all its locality.
August 2016 www.sweettntmagazine.com
Sucking on cocoa pod seeds is another fun activity that mischievous children might do when walking home from school. Just like when they stone down or climb the mango, plum, and chenette trees located in angry people’s yards, you can spot the young happy ones stealing cocoa pods and running along the roadside smashing the fruit open and enjoying the sweet flavoured seeds covered with pulp.
The seeds are individually enclosed in a pulpy sack that is generally removed before the fermentation process of the seeds when making cocoa and chocolate. The pulp is usually considered a waste by-product in traditional cocoa production. In Trinidad and Tobago, the pulp has always been a favourite snack of our grandparents who would tell stories of climbing cocoa trees, picking the ripened yellow or orange pods and quickly descending to smash the pod on the trunk of the tree to get at the sweet pulp on the inside. It also makes a very refreshing juice.
Recently, since the discovery of numerous health benefits associated with the consumption of eating cocoa pulp, a thriving nutritional beverage industry has been created centred around cocoa health drinks derived from the pulp of the fruit. The pulp is used today to make soluble powders used to make yogurts, ice creams, beverages, and dry mixes. The insoluble pulp extract is better suited for bars, baked goods, cereals, confectionery, and cosmetics.
June 2016 – Issue 22 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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