Baobab. Ever heard of it? I vaguely remembered that it was something that looked like a coconut and came from the ‘upside down tree’. I had no idea it was edible until I met the lovely people at Phytotrade Africa.
They are a not for profit organisation who represent the natural products industry in Southern Africa. These are products derived from plants indigenous to Southern Africa and include foods, drinks, oils and ingredients used by the food and cosmetics industries. Honestly they are really small but passionate so if you can support them, please do.
Baobab – The tree of life
Baobab is one of the fruits that they represent. It grows on the ‘Tree of Life’, as it’ s sometimes known, and is perhaps the best known tree in Africa. Branches are usually bare of leaves for much of the year and reminiscent of a root system, which is where the name, ‘The Upside Down Tree’ comes from.
It belongs to its own botanical family – the Bombacaceae and is known to live to over 1,000 years. Some specimens are even thought to be as old as 3,000 years!
There are so many ways to use every part of this wonderful ‘tree of life’. The fruit powder is mixed into water with sugar to make a sherbet-like drink. It can also be a fermenting agent in traditional brews.
The fruit itself has a hard, woody shell with a velvety yellow-green coating. Inside the shell are the large oil-rich seeds, the fruit powder and fibres. Here’s a little video all about it.
African people have been eating baobab for centuries to boost their health and it’s now been hailed as the next superfood to hit Europe. Apparently it has more like for like Vitamin C than an orange, more iron than spinach and provides 33% of your RDA of fibre.
I was kindly sent some Baobab Jam and powder to try and was pleasantly surprised. The jam is curd like in consistency and gorgeous on toast and with scones. Because of the health benefits I have been using the powder in milkshakes and over cereal to give an extra nutritional boost.
Perfect to start your day with
Phytotrade Africa launched The Better Breakfast campaign this week to help educate and inspire us all on the benefits of having a good, healthy breakfast. You can find some of my recipes on their very informative website as well as places where you can buy this amazing superfood somewhere near you (UK only at the moment).
There are lots of events taking place all over the country from The Eden Project to London’s Richmond Park so do get involved and support this farming community.