The Coconut Tree (Cocos Nucifera L.) is called “The Tree of Life” because of the endless list of products and by-products derived from its various parts. Food, shelter, fuel – name it, the coconut has it.
The coconut industry is considered a major dollar earner that provides livelihood to one-third of the country’s population.
From coco meat can be obtained coco flour, desiccated coconut, coconut milk, coconut chips, candies, bukayo or local sweetened shredded coconut meat, latik, copra and animal feeds.
Coco chips, which are curved and wrinkled coconut meat, is crisply toasted and salted. It is very popular in Hawaii.
Coconut flour can be used as a wheat extender in baking certain products without affecting their appearance or acceptability.
The coconut milk is a good protein source. Whole coco milk contains about 22% oil, which accounts for its laxative property.
Copra is dried coconut meat that has a high oil content, as much as 64%. Coconut oil is the most readily digested of all the fats of general use in the world. The oil furnishes about 9,500 calories of energy per kilogram. Its chief competitors are soya bean oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil.
Coconut oil retards aging. It counteracts heart, colon, pancreatic and liver tumor inducers. And it is easy to digest.
In the detergent industry, coconut oil is very important. Its most outstanding characteristic is its high saponification value in view of the molecular weight of most of the fatty acid glycerides it contains.
An advantageous utilization of the coconut oil as a detergent was discovered in a May 1951 study wherein a formulation using coconut oil was found to be an effective sanitizer.
Other products from coco oil are soap, lard, coco chemicals, crude oil, pomade, shampoo, margarine, butter and cooking oil.
Coconut leaves produce good quality paper pulp, midrib brooms, hats and mats, fruit trays, waste baskets, fans, beautiful midrib decors, lamp shades, placemats, bags and utility roof materials.
The coconut fruit produces buko, often used for salads, halo-halo( crushed ice with sweetened fruit), sweets and pastries. Buko is of three kinds: mala-kanin, or having the consistency of boiled rice; mala-uhog, mucus-like consistency and ready for eating; and mala-katad, or like leather. The last kind is the one used for making sweets.
A mature coconut, or niyog is used in making sweets and special Filipino dishes.
The “sport fruit” of the coconut is the makapuno. Considered a delightful delicacy and largely used for making preserves and ice-cream, it cannot be kept in storage and will not germinate. It has three layers: semi-acid, soft and hard meat.
Coconut water is also called liquid endosperm. It is thrown away during copra making and becomes a great waste. Uses of coconut water include: coconut water vinegar; coconut wine; production of the chewy, fiber-rich nata good as a dessert and as alaxative; as a growth factor; and as a substitute for dextrose.
Another breakthrough use is in coconut water theraphy to cure renal disorders. “Bukolysis”, as it is also called, is the medical process of reducing or dissolving urinary stones of the urinary tract systems using buko water from 7 to 9 months old coconuts. Bukolysis is the brainchild of Dr. Eufemio Macalalag Jr., a urologist. For preventive medication, water from one mature coconut consumed daily, could almost guarantee that the formation of stones in the urinary tract will be avoided. To those already afflicted, the coconut water theraphy has been proven to be an inexpensive and effective cure. Coconut water is commonly promoted as an economical thirst quencher, hunger satisfier and medical cure for renal disorders all in one.
Using coconut water, a nata de coco-like growth produced after 14 days which, when cooked in syrup, is apopular dessert. When mixed with other ingredients, like the making of fruit salad, it will enhance the flavor of the dish. And whoever said that nata de coco is just for food was wrong. This nata-like growth is dextran and can be made to comply with the specifications for clinical dextran, then we have in the coconut water an important contribution in the atomic defense against radiation sickness.
Coconut husks are made of bristle fiber (10%), mattress fiber (20%) and coir dust and shorts or wastes (70%).
The abundance of fiber nakes it good, stable supply for cottage industries that make brushes, doormats, carpets, bags, ropes, yarn fishing nets, and mattresses, etc.
Coir fiber can also be used as substitute for jute in making rice, copra, sugar, coffee, bags and sandbags. It is also suitable for making pulp and paper, etc. For the first time, the Philippines can export coir fiber to Japan, Germany and the United States with the proper assistance extended by the government, the industry being new.
The well board is manufactured from coir dust and short fibers. No binding materials are needed as lignin is inherent in the coconut husk. Also it is termite-proof because creosote is present in the new material. The board produced is as good as narra, plywood or masonite.
Coir yarn, coir rope, bags, rugs, husk decor, husk polishes, mannequin wig, brush, coirflex, and fishnets are other products that can be obtained from coco husk. Out of coir dust can be obtined coco gas, lye insulator, insoflex and plastic materials.
Coconut Pith (Ubod)
Out of its pith can be produced coco pickles, guinatan and lumpia. Its guinit can produce helmets, caps, wooden shoe straps, handbags, fans, picture and house decor like lamp shades and guinit flowers for the table.
Ever heard of the “Millionaire’s Salad”? It’s fit for any ordinary man though, it is made up of “palmetto cabbage” which, when translated properly, is simply the local ubod or the “heart” of the coconut. Actually, ubod is considered one of the finest vegetables in the Philippines. It can be served in many appetizing ways. Cubed in fairly large bits, it makes wonderful addition to Spanish rice, or in their long strips, to Arroz a la Cubana. As a salad, it is mixed with mayonnaise or thousand island dressing and heaped onto lettuce leaves, red pepper, chopped spring onions, paprika, or a combination of some of those may be used to garnish this all-white salad. Crab meat with ubod in lumpia can prove to be very delicious.
Out of the bud of the coconut tree’s infloresence is a juice called coconut toddy or tuba. The fermented juice is the common alcoholic drink in the coconut region. The fermented tuba would be a good drink even to those who enjoy the finer things. The principal uses of the toddy are: as fresh beverage; for producing alcoholic beverages; for producing vinegar; for making sugar; and as a source of yeast for making bread.
Coconut toddy, after being left for five days then distilled, produces an alcoholic spirit known locally as lambanog which is more or less 98% proof. In its taste, sweet toddy is a liquid containing essentially 12 to 18% sugar (sucrose).
Other products from the coconut tree’s infloresence are gin, vinegar, candy trays, Christmas and wall decor.
Coconut shell produces the core of the most saleable household products and fashion accessories that can be turned into lucrative, wide-selling cottage industries. Among them are shell necklaces, shell bags, cigarette boxes, shell ladles, buttons, lamp shades, fruit and ash trays, guitars, placemats, coffee pots, cups, wind chimes, “coco banks”, briquetted charcoal and activated carbon.
The most important use of coconut shell is activated carbon produced from its charcoal. It is utilized in air purification systems such as cooker hoods, air conditioning, industrial gas purification systems, and industrial and gas masks.
Coconut Trunk & Roots
Out of the coconut trunk, hardy and durable wood is obtained to make benches, tables, carvings, picture frames, tables, tool boxes, and construction materials, among many others. Paper pulp can also be extracted from the coconut trunk and other woody parts of the tree. Among the woody parts of the tree, the trunk gives the highest pulp yield of 43%; the midribs, 41%, and the petiole or the slender stop that support the leaf, 32%. Tests also show that coconut coir (80%) and abaca bleached sulfate pulp (40%) are a good combination in the production of offset bookpaper.
Medicine, beverages and dyestuff are obtained from the coconut roots.