Katunkuma as it is widely known in Uganda is called Bitter Berries/ African eggplant/Likok in English. Its botanical name is solanum anguivi. These are very small and bitter when compared to their counterparts, ntula. Today we shall learn about the Health benefits of eating Katunkuma
African eggplants are commonly eaten as a side sauce in Uganda. They are more popular amongst older people who grew up eating them. In addition to adding taste to meals, bitter berries contain a number of medicinal and nutritional values.
Characteristics of the Katunkuma plant/ solanum anguivi/bitter berries
It is an erect woody herb or shrub and usually grows up to c. 4 m tall. All parts of the plant are covered in stellate hairs.
The Leaves are rhombic-ovate, elliptic or lanceolate, thinly stellate hairy above, densely so below. The central ray of the stellate hairs are often much longer than the lateral rays. Leaf margin subentire to triangularly lobed. Prickles are usually present on the midrib and main veins.
Flowers of the African eggplant are in groups of up to 20-flowered racemose heads. Corolla pale mauve or purple to almost whitish, star-shaped.
Fruits are 6-12 mm in diameter, spherical, green, turning yellow and glossy orange-red when ripe, and are edible when mature.
What are the different ways of eating Katunkuma
Katunkuma is eaten in several ways by people who enjoy it, including those who only eat it for medicinal purposes.
Some people prefer to chew it raw, when it is chewed raw, it helps to give one fresh breath because it is alkaline and helps in cleansing the body. one has to wash it thoroughly. He adds that you should chew it in the morning, just after waking up.
Often times it is boiled or steamed and served as a side vegetable for meals. katunkuma can be wrapped in banana leaves, steamed on top of other foods, and eaten as a side dish.
It may also be crushed to make juice in its fresh form. Katunkuma juice is recommended for people with high blood pressure.
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Another way of eating katunkuma is by making a powder out of it. This method is especially a good value addition technique. Those who make katukuma powder earn twice the money or more than what a farmer sells their fresh product at.
How to make ready-to-eat katunkuma Powder
Are you interested in adding value to this medicinal bitter berry? Here is how to process katunkuma and get a powder that is eaten instantly.
Step-by-step process of making Katunkuma Powder
1. Remove the stocks from the fruit
2. Wash the bitter berries in clean water thoroughly most preferably more than once.
3. Put it in a saucepan/cooking pot, add water and boil until it gets soft.
4. Spread the boiled katunkuma under the sun to dry thoroughly
5. Pound the dried katunkuma in a mortar to form a powder, you may also grind it using a food processor.
6. Store or pack the powder in a dry and air-tight container
7. Sprinkle the powder in a bowl of soup and eat instantly, you may also add it to a cup of hot water and drink it as tea
What are the Health benefits of eating katunkuma ?
Several benefits have been attached to eating katunkuma which one should not underestimate. The solution to your health problem may be hidden inside this bitter African eggplant/ berry.
Treatment of symptoms of high blood pressure
hypertension symptoms can be treated when you add Katunkuma to your diet. This is due to the polyphenols of the berries that aid the muscle layer of blood vessels to relax and automatically regulate blood pressure.
Healing of Certain Skin Conditions
skin conditions such as ringworm and rashes can be cleared when you apply a katunkuma pate to the diseased area. Pound the leaves and fruit together and apply the mixture onto the affected area.
Katunkuma is used for treating cancer symptoms. It delays the proliferation of human cancer cells and aids the overall recovery of patients, with minimum side effects.
Weight loss properties
It has long been known that katunkuma fruits also help in contributing to weight loss over time, thanks to the ability of the components contained inside to interfere with the digestion of lipids.
Good for diabetes
Diabetic patients are encouraged to add katunkuma to their diets. Katunkuma is a Sugar-Free fruit yet very high in energy return. It is suitable for diabetic patients, who have to take strict yet careful measures in controlling their glucose intakes.
Boost milk production
Traditionally breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to eat katunkuma right after giving birth in order to boost milk production for breastfeeding. It is also known to increase the fertility rate. Katunkuma is an Analgesic
Antibacterial properties in Katunkuma help to fight, interfere with and halts the growth and distribution of bacteria.
How to Grow Katunkuma
Start with making a nursery bed. The seeds are ready for transplanting when they are one month. Katunkuma grows well in fertile and well-drained soils. The garden should be weed-free for healthy plants. The fruits will be ready to be picked after two months.
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