Product Development Series, I

Or Use Your Coconut!

When we were in grade school, our teacher, Balbino Belonias, would set us up for a conundrum, and would invariably say, “Use your coconut!”

Literally, in this instance, we would like to really do that. Remember that no one is too old to learn a new trade or skill.  Or for that matter, to engage in a new business/enterprise.

Guinarona is blessed with abundant coconuts, so we cannot overemphasize building up on the resource. Our basic premise is that anaerobic fermentation will add value to our coconuts, nay more revolutionary products.

Traditional cultures from around the world all incorporated probiotic-rich foods into their diets. Before modern technology gave us refrigeration and even in underdeveloped countries today, the only way to preserve food was to ferment it. As it turns out, these cultured or fermented foods contained the life-giving microflora that nourished and protected them through the ages.The Magical Power of Fermented Foods.

Coconut water is an excellent base for making a fermenting Lactobacillus starter, as it is a complete food in itself, being the only source of nutrients for the coconut embryo. Our starter culture can be used for coconut yogurt, coconut wine and coconut pickles to name a few uses.

Let’s start with the anatomy of the coconut.

Parts of the coconut

Piles of coconut in Guinarona, Philippines

Coconut water is just laid to waste in most copra-making operations. So utilizing and adding value to this resource is a winner. First, we set aside the coconut water after cracking the mature coconut.

Coconut water in a beaker

In the meantime, we chop the peeled giant fern shoot, which has endemic Lactobacilli.

Shoot of the giant fern, which is abundant in Guinarona, Philippines

Another material that we add to our starter is the cooked germ of the sugar palm (idjok), also abundant in Guinarona.

The sugar palm fruits, with an inset of the cooked germ.

Purple cabbage, a good source of endemic Lactobacilli.

Another addition is chopped purple cabbage.

Chopped onions.

Chopped red onions

And chopped garlic.

Chopped garlic

A presentation of sea salt.

Our final adjunct is sea salt.

Our procedure is as follows:

We heat up the coconut water until it reaches 45 degrees Celsius or 117 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix up the chopped fern shoots, sugar palm germ, purple cabbage, onions and garlic. We add the chopped materials at the rate of 10 percent (by weight) of the whole starter mix. We then add 5 percent salt, by weight. In effect, if we have 10 liters of coconut water our chopped materials will be 10/90 x 10 kilograms or 1.11 kilograms. Our salt to be added is 5/95 x 10 kilograms or 0.53 kilograms.

We then mix the heated coconut water with the other materials and place it in a suitable fermenting container. To maintain our required fermentation temperature, we place the fermenting vessel inside a styropor box and surround it with bottled hot water.

Our fermentation time is 6 to 8 hours or overnight. We can then store our Lactobacillus starter at room temperature and use it for yogurt production, pickle production and coconut wine production.

Also, we have to allot a portion of our starter for further propagation and store it at the chiller chamber of the refrigerator.

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