Coconut water – pure or acidified?
Coconut water, it seems to be everywhere. At fancy parties the tropical green fruit appears in festive style with a straw and an umbrella. The trendy water is also used in all kinds of health enhancing drinks and is being praised in all the blogs and vlogs. But why is it so popular? And what is it exactly?
Coconut water is the fluid from within the coconut, so it’s not the same as coconut milk, which is made from the flesh of the coconut. The coconut water contains minarals like potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and phosphor. Many healthy properties are attributed to it. It is said to help against diarrhea, vomiting and stomach aches. Also it is supposed to have anti-bacterial properties and protect you from heart attacks.
The coconut water on the market today is mostly acidified and pasteurized. There are also versions available which are not acidified but only sterilized. The reason for these additions and treatments is the prevention of growth of possible present bacterial spores. The weird thing is though that these additions are not always mentioned.
Coconut water is naturally sterile, but through processing spores may get into the product. If these spores are not inhibited by a low pH, they can grow and cause diseases and spoilage. Both are undesirable. However, nowadays there are also products on the market that claim not be acidified nor heat-treated. The specifications of these products mention a pH of the coconut water of 4.6 – 4.8. This seems strange, since this pH lays usually between 5.4 and 6.5. Are we taken for a ride or could it actually be that acidy?
Studies of the pH of coconut water show that a lower pH is naturally possible. In coconuts of 5-7 months old the pH of the water can be lower than that of the more ripened coconuts. The measured values in these young coconuts vary from 4.6 to 4.9. This shows that the pH of coconut water rises during aging.
The being non-acidified of coconut water could be true if very young coconuts are used. But the question remains whether the pH is (and remains) low enough to inhibit growth of pathogens. A technology to inactivate these pathogens (and organisms that cause deterioration) is Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) or PurePulse. Since coconut water contains many valuable materials, it is important to retain these materials. PurePulse contributes to preserving these valuable materials, at the same time providing a secure shelf life.
TOP bv has a lot of experience with this technology and sees possibilities for mild pasteurization of coconut water using PurePulse. Whether the natural pH is low enough during the entire shelf life remains to be seen. This depends on many aspects like the type of coconut used and its ripeness.