The Baobab Fruit
When coming to The Gambia, most people will notice the majestic baobab trees with their wide grey trunks, that can grow up to 25m tall and are said to reach a maximum age of 1,500 years! Known as “The Tree of Life”, baobab trees produce a nutrient-dense fruit in the dry season when everything around them is dry and arid. Their large, egg-shaped fruit are protected by a hard shell that is covered by a brown velvet-like texture. On the inside you will find white powdery chunks that resemble dry bread and each contain a brown seed.
How to Use Baobab Fruit
The baobab fruit chunks have a sherbet-like, zingy flavour and are versatile to use. They can be enjoyed the way they are as a healthy snack, or pounded into powder – a process during which the hard seeds are removed. You can stir a few spoons of the baobab fruit powder into water, juice or milk to create a healthy, refreshing drink. Also add it to smoothies, cereal, or freeze the baobab juice to make popsicles. A drink you will often see offered in The Gambia is wonjo-baobab, whereby the thick baobab juice is layered beneath the fruity red hibiscus infusion called wonjo.
Health Benefits of the Baobab Fruit
It is not without reason that baobab fruit powder is increasingly becoming known as a “superfood” in the Western world. Packed with nutrients, the baobab fruit has one of the highest antioxidant profiles of any fruit on the planet. As well as being a rich source of Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium, it also contains 50% dietary fibre which research has shown to have a prebiotic effect. Regularly consuming baobab fruit may aid weight loss, help balance blood sugar levels, prevent early aging, reduce inflammation and boost your immune system.
Benefits to the Community and Environment
Baobab fruit grow on mature trees with a high longevity, which do not require watering, pesticides or fertiliser. This makes it a very sustainable food source and a valuable habitat for birds and other wildlife. There is also no such thing as a baobab plantation; every tree is community or family owned and wild-harvested. After drying naturally on the trees, the fruit are sold by the women on local markets, generating extra income for the communities.