In biology, enzymes act as catalysts to chemical reactions and work by speeding up the reaction process that changes the starting ingredients, known as substrates, into their final products. These catalytic enzymes – often called digestive enzymes – are found in our bodies and also in nature, specifically in fruits like pineapples, papayas and citruses like lemons, limes and grapefruits.
Digestive enzymes come in three types depending on what they act on: Proteases are enzymes that act on protein molecules and help break them down, lipases act on fats and amylases act on molecules of carbohydrates turning them into simple sugars.
Uses of Fruit Enzymes
Fruit enzymes can also be used in everyday life and are extremely beneficial in household cleaning products and even for cooking purposes. Enzymes are an active ingredient in many natural laundry detergents and washing powders as they are able to break down stains on clothing made from proteins, fats and starches. Homemade enzyme cleaners can also be used to replace harsh chemical kitchen cleaners and effectively work to break down grease. They are even known to effectively unclog kitchen sinks and toilet drains.
Fruit Enzymes for Tenderizing Meat
Some tough cuts of meat would greatly benefit from an enzyme that is able to break down large proteins into smaller, more digestible versions. Bromelain, the enzyme that naturally occurs in pineapples, is one such enzyme that is classified as a protease. Adding bromelain powder to the marinade used with a tough cut of steak helps to tenderize the meat before it is grilled or fried.
Bromelain also works for those people who are unable to digest large amounts of protein. It is available as a health supplement and works by breaking down large proteins into small peptides and amino acids that are more easily digested by the body.
Another similar meat tenderizing enzyme that can be used in place of bromelain is papain, the enzyme found naturally occurring in papaya fruits. In addition to its ability to tenderize meat, papain is also known to ease symptoms of bloating and constipation.
Fruit Enzyme Face Masks
You’ll find lots of facial products make use of fruit enzymes to treat a myriad of conditions like redness, inflammation and dry skin. Homemade face masks made from pureeing fresh fruits like pumpkin, pineapples and papaya utilize the properties of the fruits’ enzymes. They work by unclogging pores, soothing redness and exfoliating dead skin cells. The results often leave your face feeling smooth and refreshed.
Fruit Enzyme Drinks
Extracting enzymes from fruits can also be done by the process of fermentation to make a concentrated enzyme drink, which is said to boost one’s immunity, aid in digestion and even improve skin tone and complexion.
Making a fruit enzyme drink follows a relatively simple procedure; the only tedious part is the week spent waiting for the mixture to undergo fermentation and release the fruit enzymes for consumption. The best fruits to use to make an enzyme drink are citruses like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges. Pineapple and papaya are also great additions to your homemade enzyme drink.
Extracting bromelain enzymes, lemon enzymes and papaya enzymes by the process of fermentation requires the presence of sugar in the form of cane sugar crystals or even honey. You also need to add yeast that digest the sugars in the fruit and extract their enzymes.
As with any fermentation process, to prevent bacterial contamination or your enzyme drink from spoiling, you need to properly sterilize all the equipment used in the process. This can be done by adding the fermentation container, airlock and spoon to boiling water; by thoroughly washing them with soap; or even by wiping them down with isopropyl alcohol.
Homemade Enzyme Cleaner Recipe
Making your own homemade enzyme cleaner is relatively easy to do. For a DIY enzyme cleaner, combine brown sugar with fruit skins and water in a glass bottle with a lid. The ratio of 1:3:10 works well, so for every cup of sugar, you will require 3 cups of fruit skins and 10 cups of water. Adding yeast to the mix speeds up the fermentation process and will result in a DIY enzyme cleaner that’s ready after two weeks, as opposed to waiting three months.
Make sure to shake the bottle and keep the lid loosely unscrewed to prevent the buildup of carbon dioxide, one of the by-products of the fermentation reaction. When the mixture has fermented, strain the liquid and transfer the fruit pulp, which is rich in enzymes, to a food processor. This makes an ideal bathroom and kitchen scrub when one cup of baking soda is added to it.
The leftover homemade enzyme cleaner liquid can be used to clean toilets when diluted with water. To clean drains and sinks, it’s best to leave the liquid undiluted. Both the scrub and liquid can be used to clean everything from ovens and cars to vegetables and fruits. It can even be used as a facial toner and natural insect repellant. Best of all? It smells great!
Christabel Lobo is a freelance writer focusing on all-things food, travel, and wellness. Her writing has appeared in Tenderly, SilverKris, Byrdie, Trivago, Open Skies, Fodor’s, London’s Evening Standard, Silkwinds, HuffPost, Barclays Travel, Pint Size Gourmets, and on her personal yoga & travel blog, Where’s Bel. Feel free to check out her design and writing portfolio: christabel.co