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Harvesting and Drying of Amla Fruits

About Amla

amla fruit

The amla fruit, also known as the Indian gooseberry, is born of the amla plant which is a medium sized deciduous plant. The tree which gives rise to the fruits is native to India and has been used for a long time in Ayurvedic medicine.  In Indian tradition medicine, the leaves, root, bark and flowers were also put to use for various medicinal purposes. Amla powder, obtained from the fruit contains a high content of vitamin C, amino acids and various minerals which are beneficial to the body. The powder has rejuvenating and restorative properties and supplements the body in many ways. It is therefore revered for its antioxidant properties which are especially attributed to its vitamin C concentration.

Harvesting and Drying of Amla Fruits

The amla tree does well in both light and heavy soils with the best climate for it to grow being a tropical one. Sunlight is required for optimal growth of the amla plant and the fruit as well. Normally, the fruits are ready for flowering and harvesting in the colder seasons. The amla plant starts bearing fruit about 7 years after planting. Normally, the tree thrives best in relatively high altitudes averaging about 2000m. Also, the trees peak to a height of about 8-18m.

In the initial stages of ripening, the fruit is quite attractive in color and shape. The color ranges from light green to yellow and it is similar to that of the flower. The color is quite vibrant and it feels smooth; also, the six vertical stripes on the fruit are quite visible. As it matures, the color changes to grey-brown and the texture starts feeling rough. The surface becomes hard and it weighs slightly more. During harvesting, the color of the amla fruits ranges from light green to yellow. Normally, after the fruits are dried, they tend to disintegrate into the 6 parts which serve as partitions. For this reason, they are normally used as broken parts, even when it comes to grinding them to powder.

In drying the fruits, heat is used in getting rid of all the moisture. The fruits are first heated after which they are dried. The best time to introduce the heat is immediately after the amla fruits have been harvested. This helps in making sure that they do not darken once they are dried. They are then exposed to sunlight to dry them fully. This is carried out till the fruit pod opens and once this happens, the fruits are cooler location e.g. a shade, till they dry fully. It is important to remove the three-sided center seed as the fruits are drying. While drying the fruits, the temperatures ought not to exceed 45°c. This is because the temperatures are unfavourable for the fruits as they especially affect the potency of vitamin C.

Once the fruit is dried for an enough period of time, it is pulverised after which the powder forms. The amla fruit is multipurpose and due to its high concentration in tannin, the powder is used in coming up with dyes and inks used in fabrics.

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