Tamarind - production & trade
|Image: Sweet varieties of tamarind are grown in India|
The many tamarind cultivars are divided into two basic categories: sweet and sour. India mainly grows sour cultivars in orchard-like plantations. These are initially set up by planting seedlings out into fields. The trees grow very slowly and take a long time to mature. After perhaps 13 years, young trees begin to bear seed pods during the summer which may take about 8 months to ripen. The trees are long-lasting and may continue to produce fruits each season for up to 60 years.
Harvest and processingPods are harvested at different stages of ripeness according to how they are going to be used. Immature green fruits are usually harvested earlier for flavouring, and sweet, riper ones are harvested later. They are often gathered by shaking the tree and collecting the fruits that have fallen.
Tamarind is often further processed into drinks, sweets or packaged into more convenient forms for export. In some parts of India, tamarind is made into a jelly by mixing with water and sieving. It is then compressed into moulds and can be cut like cheese when required.