Storage of Coconut
|Collection of the nuts||
After harvesting, the succeeding operations are collection of the nuts,
ripening, and dehusking. Harvested nuts are usually gathered together on a
single layer on the ground. If the soil is moist, there is always the
tendency for the nuts to germinate. Hence, nuts are not allowed on the damp
ground for a long time, but are moved to a drier place. As mentioned
earlier, the nuts are kept for about a month to ripen on the gtfrj. This
practice promotes desirable changes in the greener or somewhat less mature
nuts: the coconut meat is said to grow thicker and harder thus producing a
better quality copra if copra is desired, or a more suitable material for
desiccated coconut production. Immature nuts tend to produce rubbery copra.
Producers claim that seasoning or storage of 10-11 month old green nuts for
one month or so improves the coconut kernel. This reduces the tendency to
produce rubbery copra. Also dehusking is easier.
Coconuts in the husk are very bulky. They are dehusked first before being
transported in trucks or carts. Dehusking is a manual procedure. The
principal part of the dehusker is a sharp-pointed shard of steel (a part of
the native plow) positioned vertically with the point up and the broader
part firmly placed on the ground. The farmer-operator impales the coconut on
the sharp point with a strong determined downward movement. A few impaling
strokes loosen the husk, making it come off (usually) in one piece. Impaling
requires accuracy and nerve.
Since dehusked coconut is an important article of commerce locally, husking therefore becomes mandatory. The coconut husks are left with the farmer. In the places where there is a coir fibre industry, the husks may be sold to this industry. Most often the husks are not sold but are used as fuel for drying copra. If little or no copra is made, there is an accumulation of coconut husks.
After the coconut is dehusked, the hard but brittle shell is exposed and
can be split open into two halves using a machete. The coconut water is
drained off leaving the cups ready for the drying stage. The meat is still
attached to the shell. During the drying process, the meat shrinks and is
easily detached or scooped out from the shell. These cups of coconut meat
are then dried furtherl.
Some farmers also practice nut splitting using a heavy machete even without dehusking the coconut. After nut splitting, the water is allowed to drain off. With meat still attached to the shell and the shell to the husk, the halved nuts are dried under direct sunlight. During the drying process the meat becomes detached or is scooped out from the shell with a scooping knife. The cups of meat are then further dried into copra.
Coconuts can be stored at room temperatures for up to two weeks without any extensive damage to it. A storage temperature of around 12°C is adequate for marketing purposes in order to maintain the quality of the coconuts. Careful handling is required to prevent cracking.
|References||Kerala Agricultural University. 2011. Package of Practices Recommendations: Crops. 14th edition. Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur- 360 p.|