The coconut fruit must be one of the most potent creations. No exaggeration! Every single part of it offers tremendous benefits to mankind. Find out how!
Co…co…nut…co…co…co…co…co…nut…The coconut nut is a giant nut. If you eat too much you’ll get very fat. Now the coconut nut is a big, big nut. But this delicious nut is not a nut. It’s a coco fruit, of the coco tree. From the coco palm family…
So goes Ryan Cayabyab’s novelty song!
The giant coconut is, indeed, not a nut. It’s a drupe with a hard stony substance that encloses the seed. From the outer layer of the coconut drupe to the water it encloses, you’ll find a host of amazing perks.
Benefits you can get from the coconut drupe
As promised in my previous article, here now are the benefits you can get from the fruit of the coconut.
The coconut husk is that long and rough exterior layer of the drupe. It used to be a waste product until it was found to have practical applications. Let me cite some of its numerous uses.
- Building board. The fiber of the coconut husk is strong, stiff and high in ductility. The dust-like pith that holds it together is high in lignin. Because of this composition, the fiber makes an excellent material for a high-quality building board. It’s even seen as a viable alternative to oil-based synthetic fibers in polymeric composites.
- Rope. Because of its strength, the coconut husk can be bonded together to form a rope.
- Rugs and doormats. Its coarse fibers is a suitable material for rugs and doormats.
- Scrubbing brush and floor polisher. Does bathroom grime and dirt annoy you? Think of a coconut brush. It’s a reliable cleaner. In most rural areas in the Philippines and Jamaica, the locals even use the coconut husk to buff floors. Well, I admit, buffing floors with coconut husk takes a lot of effort and patience. But I assure you, the reward is a super shiny floor!
- Flexible furniture. When combined with a bit of latex, the husk can be molded into free forms of furniture. A coconut husk-made chair, for example, is flexible and cushioned. But, it retains its original shape.
- Dolls, figurines, and decorative items. With a bit of ingenuity, you can create a lot of items out of the coconut husk. In fact, there are now hand-crafted dolls, figurines, decorative boxes, frames, and other products in the market.
- Hydroponic planting medium. Since it’s free of fungal spores and bacteria, the husk makes a good substitute for sphagnum moss. Besides, its high lignin content promotes the development of beneficial bacteria. Coconut husks have the natural ability to blend well with nutrients. They stick onto magnesium and calcium. At the same time, the fibers gradually release potassium and nitrogen.
- Biodegradable mulch. Compared with peat moss, the coconut husk mulch is far more environmentally-friendly. It can be easily renewed.
- Erosion netting. By intertwining the husks into ropes and nets, it can effectively prevent soil erosion. It also promotes plant growth. Over time, the husk-made netting system just biodegrades without a trace.
- Fuel. The dried husks can be used for fuel in cooking. It also makes good fire for campfires.
- Mosquito repellent. Although it’s not environmentally-friendly, lighting some dried coconut husks drives mosquitoes away. The smoke it produces repels insects.
The elastic fiber between the peel and the shell is called the coir. It can be obtained from the husk of the coconut through de-husking. The coir comes in two colors or types. While the coconut is still green or in its pre-ripe stage, its coir is white. And as it becomes fully mature or ripe, the substance turns to brown.
Nevertheless, whatever stage it may be in, the coconut coir serves many different purposes.
- White coir. The white coir is more flexible than the brown type. But it’s not as strong as the latter, though. When spun into yarn, it’s used in the manufacture of ropes, strings, mats, and brushes. Due to its resistance to salt water, white coir is efficient as a caulking for boats and fishing nets.
- Brown coir. As I’ve mentioned earlier, this type is a lot stronger than the white coir. But it’s less flexible than the other. The brown coir is a suitable material for floor mats, doormats, stuffing for mattresses, and sacking. It’s also good for insulation panels and an efficient packaging material. When mixed with latex, the brown coir makes a durable car upholstery.
In horticulture, the coir is seen as the suitable substrate in a soilless potting media. It’s high in potassium and sodium. It also contains a significant amount of cellulose and lignin. Horticulturists see this growth medium as the best alternative to peat moss. Primarily because it is much more environmentally-friendly than the latter. Coconut coir is also a renewable resource.
Aside from its agricultural use, a dry coir is an efficient oil absorbent on slippery surfaces. It can also absorb animal wastes. And since it’s hydrophilic in nature, the coir has the ability to re-absorb water even when completely dry.
The coconut shell encloses its meat or flesh and its nutritious water. This part also offers a thousand uses. But most important of all is its utility as a charcoal. Compared to the charcoal produced from coconut wood, the coconut shell charcoal produces a high-class yield. It’s even the preferred fuel in both domestic and industrial use.
As fuel for cooking, the coconut shell charcoal burns hot and slow. And it leaves a minimal ash. It’s hotter at 800ºF compared to natural lump that runs at tops of 735ºF. It’s also hotter than briquettes, which heat soars only up to 715ºF.
In addition, the coconut shell charcoal is the most in-demand material in the production of activated carbon. Activated carbon is used in the removal of harmful impurities in the water, such as organic contaminants. The carbon industry prefers to use coconut shell charcoal over peat and wood because of its composition. Around 85-90% of its surface area is predominantly pores. This means that the coconut shell activated carbon is within the micropores range. These tiny pores match the size of the contaminant molecules in drinking water. The predominance of micropores in the coconut shell carbon gives it substantial mechanical strength and hardness. It’s also highly resistant to attrition. Thus, making the coconut shell carbon an efficient filter of contaminants.
The carbon industry also chooses coconut shell because the material is a renewable source. Coconuts are available throughout the year. Its drupes are harvested 3 – 4 times yearly.
Many household implements, handicrafts, and fashion items can also be derived from coconut shell. In the province of Bohol, Philippines, it’s a common sight in the food business industry. It’s used to contain the delicacy called kalamay.
And, didn’t you know that the octopus finds the coconut shell a good shield from predators? Yes, shells that found their way to the ocean floors are still useful for the underwater creatures.
Meat or flesh
Both the young and mature coconut meat has its benefits to mankind. It’s highly nutritious as it is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. It’s also rich in fiber.
The coconut meat offers a wide range of uses. You may utilize it in making beauty products, culinary delights, home remedies, and industrial products.
- Young coconut. Its soft, jelly-like texture flesh is delicious. You can eat this meat plain as a healthy snack. It’s rich in medium-chain fatty acids. You may also combine it with other ingredients to produce tasty recipes like fruit salad, buko pie, and other desserts.
- Mature coconut. This one is much firmer and harder than the young coconut. It’s a good source of oil. Also, by extracting its milk or cream, you can make varied delicious meals. The milk even makes an effective remedy for constipation.
There’s also another variety, called the coconut “sport”. It’s popularly known as macapuno in the Philippines, or kopyor in Indonesia. In the Philippines, macapuno is used as an ice cream flavor. It’s also a delicious ingredient in making a cold snack called halo-halo.
Did you know that the water in fresh young coconut is one of the highest sources of electrolytes? It’s low in carbohydrates, calories, and sugars. Coconut water is almost completely without fat, high in B vitamins, proteins, and ascorbic acid. Aside from its ability to hydrate the body, coconut water is also very good al relieving hangovers. It also helps ease some conditions like kidney stones and cancer. Marketers dubbed it as ‘Mother Nature’s sports drink’ because of its high demand.
If you haven’t done so yet, you should try drinking coconut water a habit. You don’t need to be living in the tropics to get your supply of this healthy drink. It’s readily available in many local stores and online. I recommend that you get the non-GMO project certified pure coconut water. It’s organic.
Aside from being a source of refreshing and healthy drink, the coconut water can also be used in making condiments.
See the wonders of the ‘giant nut’! The coconut is, indeed, the tree of life. It offers countless benefits to both mankind and the environment.