Tropical cranberry juice
In a previous blog I mentioned the tropical ‘cranberry’ or ‘bignay” (Antidesma bunius, Euphorbiaceae). After making the carunda jam the other day, Zak and I proceeded with picking bignay fruits. Since the berries grow in dense clusters you can quickly harvest 2 litres. The fruits were clean too, and so we just mixed 2 litres of berries with 2 litres of water and heated until boiling, and then simmered for 20 minutes.
We separated berries and juice, allowed the berries to cool down and then we squeezed them using a cheese cloth. Then we added 2.5 dl of sugar, boiled again and stirred until the sugar was dissolved. We cooled the pot at room temperature over night and then we bottled the juice and kept the bottles refrigerated. Indeed a delicious home-made drink, so easy to grow, so easy to make. The Chiang Mai name is ‘mamao dong’ while the central Thai name is ‘ba mao ruesi’.
As to the nutrient content, this is mainly a source of tasty water and minerals on a hot day, and according to Julia Morton’s book ‘Fruits of Warm Climates’ bignay also contains some vitamins.
In some cases lime is added to fruit juices so that vitamin C can act as an antioxidant, maintaining the gorgeous red colour which may otherwise oxidize into a less appealing brown. In this case we did not add anything, just to see how the juice behaves. So far, after three days, it is still nice and red.
Ketsanee and Nived usually serve fresh bignay berries with salt, sugar and chili as a Thai afternoon snack. Even small children can ‘cook’ this, and a four-year-old’s pride when serving his muddy father is as delightful as the actual snack.
Most welcome to Dokmai Garden to have a sip or bite!
Text & Photo: Eric Danell