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COCONUT ( Cocos nucifera L. )
Names in Other Languages:

English Coconuts
French Coco, Noix de coco
German Kokosnüsse
Spanish Coco fruto, nuezes de coco
Italian Cocco
Turkish Hindistan cevizi
Japanese ココヤシKokoyashi

FAMILY: Arecaceae

ORIGIN:   Coconut is native to tropical eastern regions and it is grown over in the Asian continent India, Ceylon, Indonesia and in Central and South America Mexico, Brazil and in Africa.


Coconut palm tree and fruits

GENERAL DESCRIPTION:

The coconut palm is a long-lived plant that may live as long as 100 years; it has a single trunk, 20-30 m tall, its bark is smooth and grey, marked by ringed scars left by fallen leafbases.

Coconut contains one seed inside which is rich in reserve substances located in the endosperm which is partly liquid (coconut milk), partly solid (flesh). When its embryo germinates, its radicle breaks through one of the three germinating pores, visible from the outside as well.

50 - 120 fruit may be harvested from a single coconut palm. Each fruit weighs 1 - 2.5 kg. The coco-de-mer or Seychelles double coconut is the largest coconut and may weigh as much as 20kg. [1]

USEFUL PARTS:

Seed tissue which is called as endosperm can be used fresh or dried. The sour liquid inside the young seed which can be called as coconut water is a common refresher in tropical countries. Fresh coconuts are generally eaten raw.

SENSORY PROPERTIES:

The endosperm has a pleasant, mild and nutty fragrance and a typical taste, with a hint of sweetness.

MAIN CONSTITUENTS:

TDesiccated coconut which can be called as khopra as well contains about 60 to 70% coconut oil. Coconut oil is composed, as might be inferred by its high melting point of over 32 °C, mostly of triglycerides of saturated fatty acids. Lauric (dodecanoic acid; 40 to 55%) and myristic acid (tetradecanoic acid; 15 to 20%) dominate, but several other fatty acids are found at concentrations of 5 to 10%: The two short-chain acids caprylic (octanoic) and capric (decanoic) acid (which are responsible for the smell of overaged coconut oil), the long-chain palmitic acid (hexadecanoic acid) and oleic acid, which is the only unsaturated fatty acid found at significant amounts. Consequently, the iodine index is very low. It contains 16-30 mg ascorbic acid/100 g.

The typical coconut flavour is caused by several δ-lactones of aliphatic hydroxy-carboxylic acids, ranging in chain length from 8 to 14; 5-decanolide (5-pentyloxan-2-one) is the most important single compound. Synthetic coconut flavourings often contain a homologous γ-lactone, 4-nonanolide (pentyloxolan-2-one), which is not found in coconuts. Toasting coconuts leads to pyrolysis of maltose and glucose, whereby new fragrant compounds are formed: maltol (2-hydroxy-3-methyl-γ-pyrone) and cyclotene (cyclopentenolone, 2-hydroxy-3-methyl-2-cyclopenten-1-one), respectively. Furthermore, a great number of alkylpyrazines were identified (pyrazine, methyl pyrazin, dimethyl pyrazines, vinyl pyrazin, isopropyl pyrazin). [2]

Chemical Composition
Per 100 g, the kernel is reported to contain

H2O 36.3 g
Protein 4.5 g
Fat 41.6 g
Total carbohydrate 13.0 g
Fiber 3.6 g
Ash 1.0 g
Ca 10 mg
P 24 mg
Fe 1.7 mg

Source: ( http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Cocos_nucifera.html )

Coconut oil is one of the least variable among vegetable fats

Caproic acid 0.2-0.5 %
Caprylic acid 5.4-9.5
Capric acid 4.5-9.7
Lauric acid 44.1-51.3
Myristic acid 13.1-18.5
Palmitic acid 7.5-10.5
Stearic acid 1.0-3.2
Arachidic acid 0.1.5
Oleic acid 5.0-8.2
Linoleic acid 1.0-2.6

Source: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Cocos_nucifera.html

MAIN USES IN FOOD PROCESSING:

Coconut fruit is often used for salads, crushed ice with sweetened fruit, sweets and pastries.. They are sold in jars as "gelatinous mutant coconut" cut into balls or strands. It is used for making ice-creams. Coconut meat is the thick white, fleshy substance found inside the coconut shell. It is edible and can be used fresh or dried in cooking. It can also be used to obtain coco flour, desiccated coconut, coconut milk, coconut chips, coconut candies, bukayo or local sweetened shredded coconut meat.

Coconut water is a highly nutritious food source. Uses of coconut water include: coconut water vinegar; coconut wine; production of the chewy, as desserts and as asubstitute for dextrose. Coconut water is rarely used for cooking.

Coconut milk is made by processing grated coconut with hot water or milk, which extracts the oil and aromatic compounds. The milk is used to produce virgin coconut oil. It is a common ingredient in many tropical cuisines. Copra is the dried coconut meat and, after further processing, is a source of high coconut oil content .Coconut oil is the most readily digested, of all the fats, generally used in the world. [3]

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES:

Coconuts are used in folk remedies for tumors and they have anthelmintic, antidotal, antiseptic, aperient, aphrodisiac, astringent, bactericidal, depurative, diuretic, hemostat, pediculicide, purgative, refrigerant, stomachic, styptic, suppurative properties. [4]. Coconut is a folk remedy for abscesses, alopecia, amenorrhea, asthma, blenorrhagia, bronchitis, bruises, burns, cachexia, calculus, colds, constipation, cough, debility, dropsy, dysentery, dysmenorrhea, earache, erysipelas, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhea, hematemesis, hemoptysis, jaundice, menorrhagia, nausea, phthisis, pregnancy, rash, scabies, scurvy, sorethroat, stomach, swelling, syphylis, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, venereal diseases, and wounds [5] Coconut water is also used to cure renal disorders. "Bukolysis" is the medical process of reducing or dissolving urinary stones from the urinary tract, using buko water from 7 to 9 months old coconuts. If you heard of "water therapy", there is also such thing as "buko/coconut therapy". [3]

REFERENCES and SOURCES:

[1] http://www.tis-gdv.de/tis_e/ware/nuesse/kokos/kokos.htm
[2] http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Coco_nuc.html
http://www.gomestic.com/Consumer-Information/Coconut-Tree-The-Tree-of-Life.115369
[3] http://www.gomestic.com/Consumer-Information/Coconut-Tree-The-Tree-of-Life.115369
[4]Hartwell, J.L. 1967-1971. Plants used against cancer. A survey. Lloydia 30-34.
[5] Duke, J.A. and Wain, K.K. 1981. Medicinal plants of the world. Computer index with more than 85,000 entries. 3 vols.

http://www.dipbot.unict.it/Palms/Descr01.html
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Cocos_nucifera.html
http://www.plantcultures.org/plants/coconut_landing.html

Pictures sources:

http://www.tis-gdv.de/tis_e/ware/nuesse/kokos/kokos.htm
http://www.gomestic.com/Consumer-Information/Coconut-Tree-The-Tree-of-Life.115369
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_KOANLi2W44U/Ryy4FaxHffI/AAAAAAAAF1I/lIUIjra-uC8/s400/split+coconut+fruit.JPG