Jamun-laden bicycles, carts make a comeback after 2 years of COVID pandemic
With 2020 summer washed out in COVID and 2021 summer filled with lockdowns and restrictions, vendors of Mysuru’s favourite dark fruit, Jamun, were a disappointed lot.
It is during summer, as the mango season hits its peak production or when the production declines, Jamun carts fill the street corners, main roads, boulevards and where there is concentration of people.
This year (2022), the vendors are happy to be back on the streets with a bang and are selling heaps of black cherries on round cane carriers on a bicycle. Go to any street corner, both in Mysuru and Srirangapatna, you see these cycles carrying cherries, neatly arranged in an appetising way, forcing a motorist to stop by and ask for the price.
Java plum (Jambu Nerale), also known as black plum or Jamun, is nothing less than a summer super fruit and with many nutritional benefits. It is a fruit which attracts all the age-groups, who crave to taste it as the season arrives.
Demand high so are rates
Though the last two years were tough for the vendors, this year they are back with increased demand and increased prices too. They sell the fruits at Rs. 280 to Rs. 300 per kg and many enterprising vendors say, “just Rs. 70 or Rs. 80 for quarter kilo.” Those fruits that are fresh are even sold at Rs. 110 to Rs. 120 for 250 grams.
The demand is so high that the rates don’t come down a notch even in the evening. In Mysuru city, the fruit is sold on the Crawford Hall Road, Kalidasa Road, Yadavagiri near Akashvani, Kalidasa Road (Panchavati Circle), near Deputy Commissioner’s Office and some residential pockets in Vijayangar, Kuvempunagar, Ramakrishnanagar and Saraswathipuram.
Other prominent places include in front of the Loyal World Supermarket in V.V. Mohalla and Mathrumandali Circle. On an average, the vendors sell a minimum of two tonnes per day.
Normally in the evening, vendors are in a hurry to go home and many of them sell the fruits at throwaway prices. But here in Jamun’s case, the vendors keep the fruits for the next day instead of selling them for less prices. If they are fresh fruits, they will keep them for at least two days before even getting ready for bargaining with buyers.
The bright colour, enticing texture and intense sweetness of the fruit has increased its demand every year and everywhere. Jamun is loaded with nutrition. Java Plum fruits are sold through local markets and roadside stands, foraged from wild and cultivated trees.
The fruit stands as a competitor to expensive fruits like apples and pomegranates. While the customers end up paying Rs. 200 to Rs. 280 per kg in markets, the merchants and fruit dealers get it at Rs. 100 per kg from farmers.
Associated childhood memories
The fruit reminds many of the beautiful childhood memories of picking the dark fruit straight from the giant tree and enjoying its taste which leaves purple stains on the tongue. Native to India, Java Plum is a pretty fruit with rich colour and sweet taste and is a fruit of the flowering tree called Syzygium cumini. It usually fruits during May and June.
The rich fruit contains naturally occurring sugar called fructose and glucose which contains very few calories. 100 grams of Java Plum gives just 62 calories and 18 mg Vitamin C, 15 mg Calcium, 15 mg Phosphorus, 26.5 mg Sodium, 55 mg Potassium, 5 mg Magnesium and small amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, carotene, folic acid, fibre and negligible fat. The fruit is loaded with water content, making it a suitable fruit to have during the hot summer months.
Java fruits benefit in controlling excessive blood flow during cuts and prevents infection. It helps in increasing haemoglobin count, boosts heart health, aids in weight loss, improves gastric health and boosts immunity and also helps in regulating blood pressure. Doctors and Ayurvedic practitioners recommend this fruit raw for diabetics and in fact, there are certain medicines that are named after this fruit.
The pulp of the fruit is used in making vine, vinegar, jam etc. The seed of the fruit has medicinal properties and is used to treat diabetes and diarrhoea. The fruit has been used to treat diabetes for centuries and the seed is most effective and useful in both insulin-dependent and noninsulin-dependent diabetes.
Java Plum trees are wonderful for shade. But in recent years, people have become used to eating the large hybrid variety that comes to Mysuru predominantly from Bengaluru, Chikkaballapur and Kolar. The hybrid variety has more water content and is not as sweet as the desi varieties.
In Mysuru, it is grown in Rammanahalli, Hanchya and surrounding villages an vendors come to the city early in the morning, hoping to take good profits by the time they return.