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Mystery behind coconut water

QUESTION: How is water formed inside coconut and what is its composition?

R. Subramanian, Kerala

ANSWER: Coconut water is the endosperm part of the coconut plant. Endosperm is the most common nutritive tissue for the development of embryos in Angiosperms and develops as post-fertilisation structure from the primary endosperm nucleus.

Depending upon the mode of development three types of endosperm have been recognised. Nuclear, Cellular, Helobial. The coconut endosperm is a nuclear type.

In very young coconut fruit (about 50mm long) the endosperm is found as a clear fluid in which float numerous nuclei of various sizes.

This fluid is compactly filling the embryo sac in which the embryo is developing.

At a later stage i.e. when the fruit is 100mm long, the suspension shows, in addition to free nuclei, several cells enclosing variable number of nuclei. Gradually these cells and free nuclei start settling at the periphery of the cavity and layers of cellular endosperm start appearing.

This forms the coconut meat. This meat is very tender enclosing the fluid content called coconut water.

At this stage the nut is called tender coconut. The quantity of the cellular endosperm increases further by the divisions of the cells. In mature coconut the liquid endosperm becomes milky enclosed by the cellular part called kernel and it does not contain free nuclei or cells.

The percentages of Ariginine, Alanine, Cystine and Serine in the protein are higher, than those in cow's milk.

At the stage in which the coconut water is consumed, as beverage the concentration of sugar is at its maximum and total solids is less when compared with the water found in nut with kernel.

The principal constituent is the Potash, the concentration of which is markedly influenced by potash manuring.

The concentration of ascorbic acid ranges from 2.2 to 3.7 mg/100cc. The concentration is high in the water of green nut with soft pulp and gradually diminishes as the nut ripens.

S. Palaniappan, Pudukottai

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