It's nearly winter downunder and our makrut (anther common name - Kafir lime- is not socially nice for some people somewhere in this world so -makrut- is the better name) trees are dropping ripe fruits. We have collected a full wheelbarrow (some 500) fruits and wondered what to do with them.
Makrut is an exotic fruit here. People know about it because its peel (or rind or zest) is used to flavor the famous ‘Tom Yum Goong’ and ‘Thai Red Curry’. But our distance to market locations make our makrut fruits not a market produce. So what do we do now?
A list of things we can do with makrut came to mind. I decided to investigate a production range. So I had a product line set up. A few containers arranged in easily reachable from the processor (me) point, a small knife in the pressure cooking pot with makrut peels, a juice squeezer (green colored utensil at top), a juice and seed bowl, a container for peeled makruts and a jam making pot with cut up and deseeded makrut pulp. The idea was to make makrut shampoo from peels, make makrut jam from pulp, makrut juice for use (as lemon juice) and makrut seeds to grow more (elsewhere of course ;-).
The results (from 60 makruts and 32 hrs peeling, 15 minutes separating juice and seeds, 45 minutes pressure-cooking the peels in water, and 45 minutes pressure-cooking the pulp+sugar to make jam – with help of a stick blender) were 2.5 litres of shampoo (kept in clean bottle in cool place), 1 litre of makrut juice in small bottles (kept in a freezer), 5 x 300ml bottles of makrut jam (in bottles microwaved at medium power for 45 seconds, boiled caps, and filled when jam was still hot).
There was (close to) no waste in the process. All parts of makrut fruits were used to make 4 products. Makrut jam needed about 1/2 cup of sugar and ¼ teaspoon of salt for each cup of pressed pulp, but no pectin! Sugar is needed because jam is a compound of pectin and sugar. How ‘jammy’ can be controlled by amount of sugar – too little the jam is ‘runny’, too much the jam is ‘hard’. You decide where ‘just right’ is. (We could add flavor like ginger, orange, date, raisin, vanilla,…). Glass jam bottles were cleaned and microwaved to sterilize to save time and energy.
[Added 28 May 2023. Jam is a a result of chemical reactions of Pectins, sugars and acids. Pectins are long chains plant polysaccharides (a kind of soluble but nondigestible sugars with molecular weight of 50-150 KDaltons). Acids breaks pectin chains, sugars and water into pieces. Sugar (glucose) pieces (molecular weight aboot 180 Daltons) get attached to pectin pieces and H or OH (pieces of water) and stabilize as jam. Good jam is ‘dry’ (no free water molecules) and thus is not supporting microbial growth --self preserveing. With makrut pulp we already have enough pectins and acids, and some but not enough fructoses (sugars). That is why we add sugar. How much? We need to experiment! ]
(my) Makrut shampoo was essentially blended makrut essence oil in makrut pectin, acids and water – no other ingredients. Pressure cooking was to soften the peels so they blend easy and save time and energy, and to keep the essence oil --don't use high heat or let steam out – essence oil goes with steam. Plastic containers were cleaned and rinsed quickly with just hot water (some plastics deform with heat).
For me this was good result. For those who wish to go further, I think ‘online selling’ is possible if postage is reasonable and cost of meeting regulation is not too high. Retailing through grocery or tourists shops would need new bottles, good labeling, advertising and good new flavors (to compete). Finding sponsors to set up business can be quite hard if the products are not inviting enough. So try giving away to friends and listening to their responses before committing to other liabilities. ;-)
There are plenty of reasons why makrut can make good and healthy products on the Internet. Look up a few won't you?
[I have been using my makrut shampoo for few weeks now and I am quite happy with it. I use it as hair cleaner, hair conditioner, face moisturiser and toner, under-arm lotion,… I apply the makrut shampoo and rub for a minute or two then clean it out with water --no soap nor detergent (these dry out your natural oil and your skin make you wrinkle faster; all u-beau -u-bet -ur-money creams and moisturizers are replacing your own body natural oil with some artificial blend of plant and/or mineral --meaning petroleum-- oils. You choose! Your [free] own oil or [paid] branded/blended oil?]