Processing of marula (Sclerocarya birrea subsp. Caffra) fruits : a case study on health-promoting compounds in marula pulp

P. Hiwilepo-van Hal

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Marula is a multipurpose tree from Southern Africa, used by local people for its fruit, and cosmetic oil from the seed and for medicinal products from the bark and leaves. Fruits are eaten raw, or used to prepare juices, jams, conserves, dry fruit rolls, or fermented to make alcoholic beverages like beer, wine and Amarula. The fruit is a vital source of vitamin C for rural people most of whom cannot afford other more expensive sources of vitamin C. The specific processing methods and conditions of making marula juice vary among different regions. This thesis investigated the fate of antioxidants, i.e. vitamin C, and their activities due to heat processing and fermentation of the marula pulps and its juices.

The results showed that marula fruit pulp has a vitamin C content higher than that of most fruits, ranging from 62 mg/100 g fresh weight– to over 400 mg/100 g. Juice production was optimized by an experimental design combined with response surface modelling: adding pectinase (in the range of 0.1 to 0.14%) increased the yield of marula juice by 23%. The optimal extraction temperature for the content of vitamin C and polyphenols as well as for the antioxidant activity ranged between 40 and 60°C. At heating temperatures below 125ºC, ascorbic acid in marula pulp was about 15-fold more stable than in mango and guava pulp. The results further revealed that marula peel contained more volatile compounds (75) including all the identified volatiles (41) of the flesh.

Marula fruit is a rich source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. The use of unfermented juice should be encouraged since it can contribute to the energy intake of the marula juice drinkers. Marula juice is a rich source of natural antioxidants. In addition, marula processors are advised to incorporate (part of) the skin in products such as juices, jams, jellies and alcoholic beverages during processing to enhance the unique characteristic marula flavor in the products which are currently claimed not to have a strong marula like flavour.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • van Boekel, Tiny, Promotor
  • Dekker, Matthijs, Co-promotor
  • Verkerk, Ruud, Co-promotor
  • Bille, P.G., Co-promotor, External person
Award date25 Oct 2013
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789461737427
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2013


  • sclerocarya birrea
  • food processing
  • nutritive value


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