Marula fruit makes more than just the liqueur which made it famous
From the bark to the leaves, this ancient fruit can be used as a coffee substitute, for cosmetics, and it even has medicinal properties
A recent drive to Pilanesberg was like a shopping spree on wheels with a plethora of goodies to choose from sidewalk sellers. I was intrigued by the bags of what looked like loquat, a small yellow fruit, about the size of a walnut, with large brown pips. Except these were rounder, bigger than a loquat and some of the fruit was green, others yellow. My curiosity got the better of me. I had never tasted marula fruit but certainly the liqueur which has made the fruit famous.
It has a tough outer skin which on biting into releases a nugget of juicy pulp with a unique sweet/sour taste. The two large brown pips means the pleasure of the fruit is short-lived. But what is amazing is the aroma it exudes, difficult to describe, except it's unique and strong and permeated the house.
The fruit grows on a deciduous tree which reaches up to 18m and bears fruit from January to March. It's full of benefits, has very high levels of vitamin C in both the fruit and nut. Rich in minerals and vitamins, the nut is packed with protein.
I realised my 1kg bag would not stretch far as the recipes I came across were for jelly, juice or jam, all starting with a minimum of 5kg of fruit. What is interesting are the properties of this ancient fruit. The skin can be boiled or burnt as a coffee substitute, the bark as a brown dye, oil from the nuts is used in cosmetics and the green leaves eaten to relieve heartburn and other health issues.