Have you ever cooked with coconut before? It’s a delicious and versatile ingredient that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. But if you’ve never cooked with it before, the process can seem a little daunting.
That’s why today, we’re going to show you how to blanch a coconut. Blanching is an easy way to remove the outer layer of the coconut while leaving the flesh intact.
Blanching a coconut is a two-part process. First, the coconut is steamed for about 15 minutes until the meat is soft. Then, the hot coconut is put into cold water to cool it down quickly. After that, the hard skin can be easily removed.
How do you process a coconut?
The first step in processing any type of coconut is separating out the edible meat from its shell (the husk). This can be done manually with a knife or using a machine called a ‘coconut cracker’ which uses mechanical pressure to break open the hard outer layer of the fruit.
Once this step is complete, the next stage is to remove all traces of flesh that may have remained on the inside of the shell. To achieve this, it is necessary to dry the coconut thoroughly before proceeding further into the manufacturing process.
Drying the coconut removes excess liquid so that the end product is free from spoilage due to bacteria growth. Once dried, the coconut will then need to be shredded for use either fresh or dehydrated.
Freshly prepared coconut can be eaten raw, but because of the high fat content, it should only be consumed after being roasted over an open fire or baked. Dehydration takes place via two methods: sun drying and oven drying.
Sun drying requires placing the freshly harvested coconut onto a platform made of bamboo sticks covered in banana leaves. As the sun heats up the coconut, the heat causes the moisture within to evaporate leaving behind the desired result.
Oven drying works similarly except instead of allowing the sun to shine directly upon the coconut, it is placed in an oven where the temperature reaches 140° C / 280° F. This method is not recommended if there is concern about cross contamination between different types of produce.
After dehydration, the final step is to grind the coconut into flour form. This allows the coconut oil to become more easily extracted during cooking.
There are several ways to prepare coconut depending on what your needs are. You can choose to purchase pre-shredded coconut, whole unroasted coconut, or dried, unsalted, ground coconut flakes. Each option offers something unique to the way it tastes when cooked.
How do you process desiccated coconut?
The first step to processing coconut into desiccated form involves removing the water from it using traditional methods or modern technology. After that, the next step is to remove the oil content from the coconut. This can be done through mechanical means such as pressing or centrifuging, or chemical means like extracting with solvents.
Once the oil is removed, the remaining solid part is called ‘desiccated coconut’. There are two main ways to process this – one is direct drying method where the desiccated coconut is dried directly without further treatment, while another is indirect drying method which involves treating the desiccated coconut with chemicals before drying them.
Direct Drying Method
- Sun Drying: Traditional system of copra drying is by spreading the cups (Split open coconut) on any open surface for sun drying. It takes about 8 days for sun drying. The deposition of dirt and dust on wet meat during sun drying results in deterioration of copra quality.
- Dryer Drying: Dryers use hot air circulation systems to evaporate moisture out of the product. These machines have multiple chambers and fans to circulate heated air over the product being processed. They usually achieve high levels of efficiency but they require large amounts of energy to operate.
- Oven Drying: Oven drying uses convection heating systems to evaporate moisture out of the product. These machines transfer heat through an enclosed chamber containing the product to be dried. They work well when there is sufficient airflow within the oven.
- Vacuum Evaporation: Vacuum evaporation dries products by reducing pressure inside the container holding the product being treated. With vacuum evaporation, no additional equipment other than a standard steam table is required. However, due to the low amount of available space, it requires special attention to ensure proper ventilation.
- Freeze Drying: Freeze drying utilizes sublimation to remove liquid from the product. In freeze drying, the vaporized ice crystals condense onto the product leaving behind only the solid residue. Since it does not involve heating of the product, it reduces the risk of bacterial contamination. However, it is expensive because it requires specialized equipment and constant monitoring.
Indirect Drying Method
- Dehydration / Dehumidification: Desiccating agents are commonly used to dehydrate materials prior to drying. They are organic compounds, which absorb water molecules from the atmosphere. When applied to foods, these substances reduce humidity levels and increase shelf life.
- Powder Coating: Powder coating involves applying powdered coatings to objects. Powdered coatings often contain polymers, resins, waxes, pigments, fillers, etc., to impart specific properties to the object. For example, powder coated cans may be painted with metallic paints to create shiny finishes.
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Source: Blanching guide
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