1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Tropical tree fruits are important in the supplementation and improvement of diets [Gunasena HPM and A Hughes 2000]. The tropical forest and its adjoining savannah zone are rich in wild tree fruits, many of which are neither cultivated nor eaten in the zone [Egunjobi JK and KM Rawal 1978]. These lesser-known food plants are extremely rich in food value while some have unusual tastes, not known among the cultivated species [Egunjobi JK et al 1978]. The potential of indigenous tropical tree fruits has not been fully realized [Gunasena HPM and A Hughes 2000].
Tamarind (Dialium guineese wild) with English name black velvet or velvet tamarind tree is commonly called ‘Awin’ among the Yoruba’s and icheku by Igbo’s. The fruit pulp which is red, with a Sweet-sour, astringent flavor similar to baobab, but sweeter, is eaten raw when dry by man and animal (Matsuda, 2006). In addition, the bark, roots and leaves of Dialium guineense have medicinal properties and are used for the treatment of variety of health problems. The fruits of the plant are chewed by most women in Southeastern Nigeria to improve lactation and check genital infection [Nwosu, M.O.et al 2000]. The leaves and stem bark are also used as folklore remedies for the treatment of infections such as diarrhea, severe cough, bronchitis, wound, stomachaches, malaria, fever, jaundice, ulcer and hemorrhoids.
Tamarind (Tamarindus indica L.), an indigenous underutilized tree fruit, has many valuable properties and almost every part of the tree is utilized by rural and urban dwellers [Gunasena HPM and A Hughes 2000]. In Nigeria, tamarind fruit is usually consumed fresh and the seed discarded. Tamarind pulp has a unique sour taste due to the natural occurrence of sugars and plant acids together [Krithika V. and S. Radhai Sri 2008]. The rural dwellers utilize the pulp in beverage production, using ancient processing techniques. The traditional processing methods are cumbersome, slow, non-hygienic and highly subjective, often resulting in no uniform products whose acceptability is restricted to certain parts of the country. Tamarind is underutilized because inadequate research efforts are directed on it [Gunasena HPM and A Hughes 2000].