The quality of dried coconut Dry Copra Coconut meat or copra is influenced by the method and the manner in which the coconut kernel is dried. If the coconut kernel is not properly dried, it gives rise to harmful moulds. The mould (yellow-green in colour) is called Aspergillus flavus, which produces aflatoxin, a type of mycotoxin. Aflatoxin is harmful to both man and animals.
The coconut kernel should be properly dried to prevent the attack of aflatoxin related moulds. Processing of quality mature coconuts to copra has several problems. If it is not properly processed, it will result in low oil yield. By following proper post-harvest practices while drying and storage can increase the oil yield. If the coconut kernel is not properly dried then there will be less moisture content, and this will result in lower incidence of aflatoxin.
Copra making involves different steps
Between harvesting and marketing of the produce, coconuts go through different processes.
- First, the mature coconuts are dried using sun drying or smoke-kiln methods. Hot-air dryers are also used at times. Mature coconuts have a higher percentage of meat and are thicker and denser with higher level of fat content. Mature coconut meat contains abundance of oil.
- Foul nuts tend to have high mould growth, so they are best avoided. Only matured (brown) nuts that are 12-month-old or older are used to make dried coconut meat.
- The most important process is drying the coconut kernel or reducing its moisture content from 50 percent to 6 percent. This influences the quality of the product.
- To prepare copra, the nuts are split and the meat exposed and the drying is started immediately or within four hours from splitting. If the drying time is delayed after splitting then mould formation will start. If the weather is not suitable for drying then nut splitting is deferred.
- If the weather suddenly turns bad during the sun-drying period, mould inhibitors are used.
- Cleanliness is maintained in the drying area during sun-drying. Soil and other extraneous matters should not get mixed with the meat. Coir mats or plastic sheets are used under the coconut meat to avoid direct contact with the ground.
- Plastic sheeting is used to protect coconut meat from rain and dew. On extended downpours, the copra is heated and dried within 24 hours.
- Coconut kernels are sun dried for four to five days (in good sunlight) to attain 6% moisture level.
- If the coconut kernel is dried using kiln dryers, a drying temperature of 35oC to 50oC is maintained for the first 16 hours of drying. In the next phase, 50oC is maintained until a final moisture content of 6 percent is reached.
- Pressing the copra between the thumb and forefinger, the thumb against the white meat, is a quick test for 6 percent moisture content. If the copra kernel (white portion) doesn’t stick to the thumb, and readily drops when released, the 6 percent (approximately) moisture level has been achieved.
We use coconut oil almost daily in our homes for a variety of uses. It is edible, so it forms a staple part of cooking in many parts of the world. It is used in beauty treatments. It also helps immensely in hair growth and keeps the skin moisturised. Its anti-inflammatory properties prevent infection from wounds as well.
These are some points that we already know about coconut oil. How much do we know about the oil extraction process, methods involved, health benefits of each type of oil that is extracted along the way and the likes? Not much, isn’t it? This article will throw some light on some of these areas, so that we get to know the extraction process of our healthy coconut oil, in a better way.
Basics of extraction process
It can be extracted in two ways – wet and dry. In the dry form, coconut meat is left to dry in the sun for long hours so that it becomes copra. When treated with other solvents, copra produces oil. In the wet form, coconut meat is used to create a mixture of oil and water. This is then treated with further chemicals, salts, enzymes and the likes so that the mixture is further broken down to give out oil.
RBD Coconut Oil
This is also known as refined, bleached and deodorized coconut oil. It has no taste and no odour. Before knowing what this is all about, you might have a question in your minds if it is healthy and can be used for cooking. While the RBD type scores lower marks than its virgin type in the health department, it is undoubtedly better than other vegetable oils that we consume every day. Refined oil is made from copra that is dark brownish in colour after hours of drying in the sun. Bleaching and deodorizing are required to remove the effects of copra’s colour and the smoky odour of the wood-heating process of copra.
Crude Coconut Oil
Crude oil is the unrefined or the most natural oil that has been extracted from the coconuts fresh before they are subjected to any refinements and processing. It is considered to be the best for your health because it has a natural taste, aroma, and nutrients. This kind of oil is not easily available as the refined types, and the rarity of it makes it more special. Manufacturers get a lot of demand for this kind of oil.
Coconut Fatty Acid Distillate
When the crude oil is introduced to further refinements, some fatty acids are released as a by-product of this natural coconut oil. These are known as coconut fatty acid distillate (CAFD) and are used in animal feeds. Your coconut oil manufacturer will help you to understand the application of CAFD and its benefits further.