24/08/21 |   Agroindustry  Plant production  Food security, nutrition and health

Project develops new products with white coconut pulp

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Photo: Goreti Braga

Goreti Braga - Researchers have studied the best use of the green coconut pulp, providing new options for healthy food products

Researchers have studied the best use of the green coconut pulp, providing new options for healthy food products

  • Green coconut's solid albumen was the basis for the elaboration of a creamy cocada (coconut-based sweet) with added tropical fruits, and of a green coconut preserve in pineapple syrup.

  • The elaboration of the sweets reduces waste and adds value to the green coconut chain.

  • They also developed a probiotic fermented milk and a smoothie that can replace milk for people with lactose intolerance..

  • Consumer acceptance test results indicate great potential for commercial success.

  • New food products repurpose materials that are treated as disposable waste .

  • The study also determined the precise best harvesting point considering the balance between the thickness of the solid albumen and the coconut water quantity and quality.

Green coconut producers and agroindustries that produce packaged coconut water can use much more from the fruit than just the coconut water (liquid albumen) and give a profitable food use to the white pulp, the solid albumen, which is often discarded with the shell. Researchers from Embrapa Food Technology studied the best use of the pulp, providing entrepreneurs in this market segment with new options of healthy food products such as sweets, beverages, and a preparation that can give mild taste and aroma to different products. 

In tests with consumers, the sensory acceptance of the new products obtained satisfactory results, which indicates high potential for commercial success. In addition to being a business option, they can contribute to converting something that is still treated as disposable waste into food. The study also precisely determined the best harvesting point for the green coconut, considering the balance between the thickness of the solid albumen and the quantity and quality of the coconut water. 

The coconut parts

The coconut fruit consists of liquid albumen, solid albumen or almond, endocarp, and the shell. The dwarf variety (photo below) is the most used one for the extraction of coconut water and, its  processing discards the shells and adhered solid albumen, a co-product with potential for industrial use. Green coconut is basically used for the consumption of liquid albumen (coconut water), especially in the national coastal zone. Its water corresponds to approximately 25% of the mass of the fresh fruit, that is, coconut water consumption and industrialization generate a large amount of waste. . 

Creamy cocada and pulp in syrup

The green coconut solid albumen was the basis for the elaboration of a creamy cocadas added with tropical fruits and green coconut preserve in pineapple syrup, products that are still unheard of in the national market, and were proposed by the researcher Renata Torrezan and her team. Both products were made with no addition of preservatives, less added sugar, and lower energy value compared to traditional sweets on the market.

The solid albumen was manually extracted (photo on the left), the pulp was grated, and the cocadas were prepared with the addition of sugar, pectin, and were then concentrated to a creamy consistency. Four coconut sweet formulations were made in a creamy consistency with the addition of other fruit pulps: cocada with hog plum, cocada with papaya, cocada with pineapple, and cocada with mango. The creamy cocada recipes based on green coconut pulp and tropical fruits obtained good sensory acceptance and were stable when stored in polypropylene containers under refrigeration for at least 28 days.

 Another product is a green coconut preserve in pineapple syrup (photo on the right) made with pulp cut into pieces and immersed in pineapple syrup. The recipe for this sweet obtained good sensory acceptance and purchase intention. Its preparation employs pasteurization technology using widely available ingredients, and it can be packaged without the use of equipment. 

The use of tropical fruits in the cocada and preserve products enhances the Brazilian biodiversity and makes its production viable throughout the national territory. The industrial production of the creamy cocadas and of the green coconut preserve in pineapple syrup are viable technologies for adoption by small and medium-sized fruit processing and fruit-based sweet agroindustries.

Preparation

The green coconut solid albumen preparation can be used in the formulation of different food products, such as fermented milk and ice cream, among others, and helps to give them mild taste and aroma. The best proportion of sugar and green coconut pulp to be used in the preparation was determined by sensory analysis.
 
After extracting the albumen, sugar is added in the same ratio of the amount of pulp. The mixture is then brought to low heat, and stirred until it reaches the appropriate level of soluble solids content. Since there is no addition of preservatives, the green coconut preparation must be kept frozen.

Fermented milk and smoothie

Another product, probiotic fermented milk, was developed considering the growing demand for healthy and balanced food that is rich in bioactive compounds and nutritious raw materials. It is potentially functional due to its probiotic characteristic, which confers benefits to human health. 

According to Brazilian legislation, fermented milk is the product obtained from the coagulation and reduction of the milk's pH through lactic fermentation promoted by specific microorganisms.

The product can be added with dairy compounds and fruit pulp, in a maximum concentration of 30% of the mass of the final product. 

According to the researcher Ana Carolina Sampaio Doria Chaves, the proportion of the green coconut preparation to be added to the probiotic fermented milk was assessed through sensory analysis.

To the sterilized whole milk, skim milk powder is added to increase the protein content and improve the consistency of the fermented milk, followed by Bifidobacterium lactis as lactic bacteria as a probiotic and Streptococcus thermophilus, which is a starter culture for fermentation and ensures that it is carried out faster. Then, the inoculated milk is incubated until it reaches an adequate pH and coagulates. The product must be cooled and rest for about 12 hours before mixing it with the green coconut mixture

The smoothie, a non-alcoholic thick drink, was made with green coconut pulp, acerola pulp, and pineapple pulp, without the addition of water and sugar. The researcher Virgínia da Matta worked on the development of the product and informs that it is tasty and has the potential to replace milk for people with lactose intolerance or allergy to milk proteins.

Coconut in Brazil

Coconut is one of the most developed fruit crops on the planet, cultivated in approximately 85 countries. Brazil is among the largest producers, occupying the fourth position in the world ranking, with 4.5% of production, only behind Indonesia, Philippines, and India. According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (Mapa), in 2017 the Brazilian coconut production was about 1.7 million tons, in an area of 242,000 hectares

According to the consulting firm Goldstein Research, Brazilian coconut production showed its best performance in the last decade, with an expected expansion at an annual growth rate of 7.04% between 2017 and 2030.

Coconut farming has great economic importance for the country: coconut fruits are widely used in the cuisine in sweets or as shredded coconut, coconut milk, coconut flakes, coconut water, among others..

Photo: Saulo Coelho

 

Study identifies ideal point to harvest green coconut

The research for new uses of the green coconut solid albumen investigated which would be the best harvesting point, considering the main raw materials extracted from coconut: water and pulp.

The study conducted by the researcher Marcos Fonseca pointed out that seven months is the best harvest point when the volume and quality of water are in balance with the thickness of the coconut “pulp” or “meat”. The information, which will be tested in other cultivation conditions, is relevant for production sectors whose raw material is green coconut, such as the coconut water sector.

After sampling coconuts produced in the municipality of Itaguaí (RJ), the researcher aimed to identify the best time to harvest green coconut in the commercially recommended period, between six and eight months after the inflorescence blooms. Measurements were taken at six, seven, and eight months in marked coconut fruits. The analysis of the measurements found that, from six to seven months, the average thickness of the solid albumen significantly increased (79.87%) and was maintained until the eighth month. The average volume of liquid albumen did not differ from the sixth to the seventh month, and it was reduced by approximately 15% from the seventh to the eighth one.

Coconut water density also remained statistically unchanged between the sixth and seventh month, decreasing significantly from the seventh to the eighth month after the opening of the inflorescence. The number of soluble solids in the coconut water increased significantly from the sixth to the seventh month, remaining at the level reached.

Therefore, according to Fonseca, “a rushed reading can lead coconut producers and the coconut water industry to use six-month-old fruits to extract and pack the water. However, a closer analysis shows that the water from coconuts at seven months, with a higher content of soluble solids, mostly sugars, has a better sensory quality (aroma and especially flavor)”.

The conclusion is that the harvest of green coconut at seven months is the most suitable one, as it balances the liquid albumen (coconut water) with better flavor and thicker solid albumen ("meat" or coconut pulp), and thus meet the needs of consumers of both products.

 

Photo: Goreti Braga

 

João Eugenio Diaz Rocha (MTb 19.276/RJ)
Embrapa Food Technology

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Translation: Leandra Moura, supervised by Mariana Medeiros (13044/DF)
General Secretariat

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www.embrapa.br/contact-us/sac/

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