coconut palm

It grows wildly and in culture along all the coasts and islands of the tropical zone of the oceans. The homeland of the plant is believed to have been the islands of the Pacific Ocean – Polynesia (Pattmir Islands). The wide distribution of the coconut palm is facilitated by the structure of the fruit, which, due to its lightness and the outer shell impervious to water, can float on the waves for a long time. The culture was also transferred to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean – to Africa, South America and the Antilles. The Portuguese brought the coconut palm to Brazil in the 16th century. from India.

The trunk of a palm tree is slender, always somewhat curved, covered with annular scars from fallen off leaf sheaths, 15-30 m high, with a diameter at the base within 0.5 m.

At the top, the trunk bears a crown of 15-30 pinnate leaves; leaf length within 4-6 m. In the 5-7th year of vegetation, several inflorescences develop in the axils of the leaves – complex panicles 1-2 m long; each inflorescence is surrounded by a woody sheath that opens when flowering. Flowers yellowish heterosexual; pistillates sit at the bottom of the inflorescence, the flower is within 3 cm in diameter with a three-celled ovary; in smaller staminate flowers, the pistil is rudimentary, there are 6 stamens. From 60 to 200 fruits per year develop on the tree. Fruit ripening occurs slowly, throughout the year and at different times, since individual inflorescences do not open at the same time. The largest harvest is traditionally taken from May to July, the second – from November to January, but the rest of the year there are small gatherings.

The fruits are large, oval, the fruit shell consists of three layers: a dense, but thin outer shell, under which there is a wide intercarp of loose brown fibers called coir, and a very hard woody intracarp (consisting of stony cells), referred to together with the content contained in it coconut seed. At the base, the nut has three holes that serve for the germination of roots. Only one ovule develops, the other two are reduced, but the openings for the passage of vascular bundles to the three placentas are preserved. Two of them are covered with dense films, and one is thinner and serves to release the root of the embryo, which easily breaks through the film during germination. As the fetus develops, changes occur in it. The endosperm is initially all liquid, transparent, sweet and sour, very pleasant in taste; if you punch a hole for the spine, you can get within 0.5 liters of cool liquid for drinking. Gradually, drops of fatty oil are found in the liquid endosperm, a milky emulsion (coconut milk) appears; it is even more palatable, but not so thirst-quenching. Subsequently, the layers of endosperm adjacent to the intracarp thicken and turn into a milky pulp. The innermost parts of the endosperm remain liquid for a long time.

Harvesting is as follows. The fibrous part of the fruit is torn off, the opened nut is split in two with a knife blow and the endosperm is taken out with a crooked knife or halves of the nuts are dried on pipes with hot water. Then the endosperm lags behind the walls within the fruit due to the evaporation of water from it and is subjected to scraping. These halves of milky, cupped flesh are called copra.

Dried copra contains 60-65% fatty oil. Pressed coconut oil (Oleum Cocois) is white, solidifies at 23°C, at room temperature it is somewhat softer than butter, has a pleasant smell and taste, and does not smoke when burned.

Coconut oil contains mainly triglycerides of myristic and lauric acids, but differs in the presence of volatile triglycerides in the range of 2-3% – caproic, caprylic and capric.

Coconut palm is used in a variety of ways. Coconut oil serves as a component of suppository and ointment bases. It is widely used in the food industry and soap making – it is the only soap that lathers in salt water.

The local population uses the hard shell of the nut as dishes, and the factories make coconut buttons out of it. From the fibrous part of the fruit, rugs and mats for washing gold are produced. Trunks give timber, boats, boat masts, beams, rafters, fences, etc. are made from them. Leaves serve as material for weaving, also for roofing material; ropes, mats, hats, brushes, brooms, etc. are made from the fibers of the leaves.

Coconut palms are used to make sugar, syrup and wine (“toddy”). For these purposes, young inflorescences are cut before blooming, and a sweet liquid flows drop by drop from a tree into a substituted vessel. This juice contains within 15% sugar; the juice is either evaporated and crystallized brown palm sugar is obtained, or fermented to produce wine, and distilled to produce vodka; one tree produces 40-70 liters of palm vodka per year.

The plant contains dense (solid) fats. PLANTS CONTAINING FATS (FATTY OILS)Fats consist almost entirely of triglycerides of high molecular weight fatty acids. They are accompanied by pigments, sterols, vitamins and some other fat-soluble substances. The fatty acids that make up triglycerides can be saturated and unsaturated. Most often, triglycerides contain the fatty acids shown in the table. Fats are not individual substances – they are mixtures of triglycerides. In the formation of fats, the law of maximum heterogeneity prevails – more than 1300 currently known fats are formed by “multi-acid” triglycerides, and fatty acids of different composition (for example, stearinodiolein, palmitinooleinolinolein, etc.). Fats, consisting of “one-acid” triglycerides, are relatively rare in nature (olive oil is triolein, castor oil is triricinolein). The properties of fats are determined mainly by the composition of fatty acids and their quantitative ratio. Saturated fatty acids form triglycerides of a dense consistency (at traditional temperature), and the density increases with the increase in the number of carbon atoms in the acid (see table). Unsaturated fatty acids form liquid triglycerides.



Liquid fats (oils), spread with a thin layer, can remain liquid (non-drying fatty oils) or, oxidized, gradually turn into a resinous film (drying – a dense film and semi-drying – a soft film). Fatty oils dominated by oleic acid triglycerides are non-drying. The more linoleic and linolenic acids in oils, the more they are prone to drying out, as can be judged by the iodine number (the number of grams of iodine that can join 100 g of fat at the place of double bonds of unsaturated acids). Approximate limits of iodine numbers: for non-drying 80-100, semi-drying 100-140, drying oils 140-200. Most vegetable fatty oils are obtained by pressing or extracting raw materials with volatile solvents. Freshly obtained (“raw”) fats are purified (refined).

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *