Friday, March 8, 2013

Dabai - A Folklore Freeze-Storing Technique

Dabai ( Canarium odontophyllum ) is an exotic fruit indigenous to Sarawak.  It is normally consumed as vegetable, occasionally made into cakes.

Dabai is a seasonal fruit, available at the same time as the durians.     It is pre-soaked in warm water to softened it before consuming with some soy sauce and sugar.  It’s a bit creamy, some describe it as similar to avocados.  An acquired taste, I may put it, not everyone would enjoy it.   Yet, it is still a well received fruit-vegetable among Sarawakians.

However, dabai is a highly perishable produce.  It cannot be stored for long after harvest.  Once soaked, it must be consumed immediately.   So, it is very hard to acquire during off-seasons.

One day, in Miri’s Aunt Hong new house, I learned that there is a folklore technique to store the dabai fruits.   The fruits are kept in the freezer, without being pre-washed.  When required, wash and put the dabai in room temperature to defrost.  Once its defrosted, just add in soy sauce and sugar to marinate.  Soaking in warm water not required, as the freezing will damage the plant cell membranes, resulting of the dabai fruits to softened. 

Apparently, the freezing burst the plant cells as moisture will slightly expand when reaches temperature of approximately 4°C.   When water almost reaches the freezing point, it expand by approximately 9%.  Damages on cell wall means softening of tissue.      

However, the freezing method requires more proper study.



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