Origin: Philippine, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam
Scientific Name: Cocos Nucifera
Coconut palm were indigenous to the Western Pacific region, and prior to human intervention were widely spread across the tropics on ocean currents. Indonesia produces approximately 35% of world coconut production, followed by the Philippines at 25% and India at around 15%.
Coconut palms have a life span of 60-80 years and can reach heights of 30m. They begin bearing fruit in 6-10 years and trees can produce between 50 – 200 fruits per year. Coconut grow throughout the year so are not a seasonal crop like most tree nuts. One coconut takes one full year to mature from a flower into a ripe fruit, with four different developmental stages: The first stage it the green immature nut, filled with sweet water. The second stage sees the white flesh begin to develop, with a soft texture. The nut continues to mature into the third stage, where the white flesh hardens and the water becomes tasteless. In the fourth stage the coconut continues to ripen and then falls to the ground, where it can be left alone to germinate or harvested. As coconuts are unseasonal, they must be harvested through out the year. There can be up to 12 harvests a year, depending on the growing area. Coconuts can be harvest either by cutting the nuts from palm or by collect them from the ground.
Coconut can be used to produce oil for food, in cooking, soap and cosmetic making and as a transport fuel. To create desiccated coconut, whole and dried coconuts must have their husks and shells removed, along with their thick brown skin. The nuts are then washed to remove foreign material and blanched to reduce microbial activity. They are then ready to be cut into desired size. The desiccated coconut is then again dried to reduce the moisture further, sieved for size and packed.
Coconut can also be processed into coconut chip and toasted coconut chip, commonly used in mueslis. Desiccated coconut is used in the confectionary industry, in baking, chocolate, sweets and ice cream. It is also widely used as an ingredient in curries.
Coconut is known to be antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and anti-parasitic. It has the same electrolyte levels as human plasma. It is beneficial for skin and hair. Coconut is high in potassium, calcium and magnesium.