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Popularity of coconuts rising, but freezing remains a challenge
"The coconut is a very versatile fruit as it combines three elements in one: fruit, nut, and seed. It can be a tricky fruit for suppliers though, because it is quite difficult to keep the natural appearance of the fruit without proper IQF processing. In order to deliver high quality products to the market, there are two major factors to consider: the right pre-treatment and the right freezing technology," says Carmen Popescu from the OctoFrost Group.
The right pre-treatment
Oxidation is one of the main issues when attempting to freeze young coconuts. The unsightly brown specks detract from the quality and natural appearance of the coconut, but can be avoided with proper pre-treatment.
"When processing coconut flesh the usual pre-treatment is washing and slicing into chunks or shreds. However, the most important part of the pre-treatment is the blanching process. It’s been found that if you blanch young coconuts at a high temperature for a short period of time, it will inactivate the oxidization that leads to brown spots," said Carmen.
The Right Freezing Technology
Carmen shared that a very important factor, which can substantially improve the freezing result and the quality of the IQF coconut, is adjusting the fan speed. Shredded coconut is light and airy, which means it can fly around and get stuck in the coil, which is why the OctoFrost team recommends a fan speed around 20% to prevent product lost.
"Not all IQF technology can adjust the speed of the fans though, but the OctoFrost™ IQF tunnel freezer has several adjustable freezing zones. Each zone can be set to a specific fan speed, and thus create optimal airflow which will prevent the coconuts from sticking together. In addition, the asymmetric movement of the bedplates plays an important role in maintaining a good product separation. All of these features help maintain the texture and color of the coconut flesh even after a long thawing period," Carmen continues.
"It is very exciting that the IQF coconut market is expanding so rapidly. In order to reach new consumers and meet their evolving needs for fresh, natural IQF coconut, it’s vital that you invest in the right equipment and sustainable technologies."
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