Imitation Young Coconut(Buko) Shreds

How much buko cost nowadays? I never know because I usually get it for free. The last time we were out of town one of our company bought a piece for 50 pesos. It was not surprising. The place was a beach. Everything in there were priced higher. Mature coconut from public market with free break and grate is about 20 to 30 pesos. There is no way the price is getting lower unless a massive coconut tree planting campaign is initiated and successfully implemented. However, with the current agricultural situation, rapid industrialization and conversion of lands to housing communities, the project is too far from reality.

So when you encounter a vendor selling buko salad for cheap. Don’t expect it to be from real young coconut. Not even close. I bought twice already. The strands had close resemblance but the color was the opposite. It was translucent white. The white reflection was probably due to added milk. It was deliciously sweet dessert but should not be called buko salad. The best way is buy real unopened buko and made the salad yourself. Opened and shredded are perishable and so there is a danger of food poisoning. It happened to me and my brother once.

The strands based on my inference is a firm gel made with pectin. I worked in a food research and development laboratory. One of the gels we were making was similar to it. Pectin is expensive so someone might have invented a cheaper alternative. Maybe it can be successfully manufactured with seaweed extract with the right formulation and appropriate heat. A trick that I never discover yet.

Previously, I experimented with cornstarch and maja blanca making. The result was getting firmer as the starch to water ratio increased. The same result was observed with seaweed extract and gel making. Maybe, just maybe, a gel of near gummy consistency can be achieved. Literature search might give the right answer but trying it for myself is the best.

Tapioca pearl or more popularly known as sago. My childhood favorite, the sago at gulaman. The base ingredient that made Zagu popular. This product can be firm to soggy depending on boiling length. With the right timing, it could be the material for fake young coconut. With added white colorant of course.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Kamias

There is a small kamias tree here.

There were two trees in our backyard when we were kids. The first one became my uncle’s property when he built their home. Thinking of it as useless tree. They killed it and replaced with balimbing, a close tree relative. It was also taken down several years after in lieu of a hobby fish pond.

I was responsible for cutting down the second tree. I removed it to build our home. I don’t want to but I had no other choice at the moment. The space given to us was small. I had to make use of every inch possible. I will make up for it the time I acquired a land of my own.

A tree of less use? Maybe true or maybe not. It is very prolific. Bearing fruit starting February to December. It does not require care. It can even survive shady and drought conditions and still bear fruits. It starts on trunk few inches above ground, to big branches, up to small branches. Majority fall and rot on ground. We often see it more of a mess than blessing. It need to be swept at least once a day.

When the two kamias trees were alive, the place was one of our favorite playing spot. The trees were giving ample shade plus we were eating the young fruits. Youngs are mild tasting compare to very sour big fruits. Then, it is useful because of that sour thing. It was my mom’s favorite for cooking any sour dish especially “sinaing na tulingan”. Neighbors often came to get kamias. Even distant neighbors were coming to pick fruits.

Saying the tree is useless is simply ridiculous. If we have a tree or two in our yard or farm. All we need to do is harvest the fruits, dry and store for later. It can also be for sale. Other products can also be made, like prunes and jams. My late grandma’s prune recipe was simply the best. Hoping she shared the formula to one of my relatives.

Upon discovering the tree in our new yard, I originally planned on harvesting and drying the fruits for later use. Perhaps grow new plant and sell to others the excess produce. I did search how to grow it from seeds or any other methods but there were few information. I am going to try every propagation method I found until I succeed.

Our two kids are eating the large sour fruits. The elder is bringing it to school for himself and his friends.

How to Dry Kamias?

Drying is a simple as getting fruits everyday, every other day or whenever mature fruits are available. You can do it on your own or ask somebody in your household. Making a harvesting pole with a catch bag on tip will make harvesting like a child’s play. Average tree height is about 15 meters. So don’t worry about climbing the tree and suffering accidental fall. If 15 meters is still too high, trimming it down to 10 meters won’t hurt much.

Then. Lay all fruits in trays or wire mesh in a single layer fashion. It is necessary to expose all fruits against sun rays at the same time. And allow good air circulation which hasten drying and prevents rotting. Fruits will turn brown and will shrink due to moisture loss. The appearance has a strong resemblance to rotting fruit but that is fine. Continue drying for several days until there is no noticeable shrinkage.

batch of kamias in drying process
dried kamias

Fresh kamias is excellent for sinaing na tulingan. I like it more when added dried. It imparts milder sour flavor and at the same time absorb fish and coconut milk taste. I am eating the kamias first before the others.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

A V Knife for Peeling Pineapples

Pineapples! Again. Such a nice food to eat but the task of removing the thick and somewhat irregularly shaped rind is tedious. It is a two step process, first is slicing off the peel as thin as possible. I said, slicing off the rind with minimal pulp waste as possible. Second is taking off every single eye remnants. I think this is optional for those who can tolerate its nasty feel in mouth. Eye removal is done by making a continuous V canal. It is spiral from up to bottom. Several of these have to be made to get rid of it all. It entails pulp waste, but, it is better that eating it with nasty eyes

Mechanization has different ways of doing things. First, pineapples are sorted according to size. Then a cylindrical cutter is pressed on top, removing the rind including all eyes. Second is done by spinning the fruit and rubbing it against a sharp blade. Both methods dump away a lot of pulp. That is case if peeling is done in selling stations. The likes of supermarkets and street vendors. The task is rather tedious so there are customers for pineapples peeled at point of sale.

Pineapple peels may still be process as vinegar or juice. Large scale companies do it. Can also be done by vendors provided that they collect and store the peels in hygienic manner

The other day. A street vendor is selling solely pineapples. Only one but very saleable item. His trick, peel every fruit for free. It watched how it was done. The rind was sliced off with a sharp knife, wasting minimal pulp and leaving the eyes behind. Then, he took a v-shaped knife and dug out all the eyes in spiral fashion. It was easier and way faster than how I do it. The trick can be applied to machinery too. Peel thinly then remove the eyes with V knife.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Not The Time For Harvest

We came back and saw the broken branch of star apple tree. Perhaps too much fruits it was carrying plus the intermittent strong winds caused it. For short and manageable tree, a support pole is often installed to prevent breaking branches and fruit waste. For this very tree I need two 20 feet water pipe joined together or a piece of long sturdy bamboo as support. Not worth the effort. The cost of either options is more than what I can harvest.

According to hort.purdue.edu. Star Apple must be harvested when fully ripe. So it is non-climacteric, the normal physiological processes ceases as soon as picked. It never fall off and must be hand-picked by clipping the stalk. When said clipping, it really means cutting off the stalk with sharp tool. Pulling them with a rod of sorts will pull off a portion of flesh surrounding the stalk base. Then it spells very short shelf life. The opening is entry of spoilage microorganisms. It won’t last unless refrigerated or processed right away. This characteristic also prevents the use of any mechanical harvesters.

Overripe must be exception as I see lots of fallen fruits every season. The raw picked fruit is bitter and turns gummy. The outside surface shows specs of shriveling due to moisture loss. You don’t have to worry about falling ripe fruit though. In case it falls right on top of your head. It will splat like a gooey. Taking a bath is your next friend.

There is no hope for these fruits. Their reasonable purpose now is to rot and become natural fertilizer. I am going to top cut the tree after harvest.

Caimito is exceptionally delectable but I see no commercial products derived from it.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

The Fallen Tamarind

I am seeing a lot of tamarind fruits but the trunk is huge and the height is a three story building. Impossible to climb. Good thing. Tamarind falls to ground when fully ripe and still good to eat. The shell is usually strong enough to withstand the ground impact. Even more so when covered with dried leaves. Anyone can walk around it and pick some fallen fruit. Let us hope there is no animal poop nearby and no rain for the past few days. The mere presence of dung makes you don’t want to pick anything. Rain on the other hand will make the shell moist and conducive to mold growth.

Speaking of falling, passion fruits take advantage of this. Not sure how, but, the harvesting practice for these fruits is not pricking from vine. The right thing is wait it fall to ground and pick them up. It is not the literal waiting near the vineyard all day. Twice a day visit usually suffice.

Black plum also benefit from falling. If you eat the black and teeth staining delicacy but never once see its tree. Then, you never tasted the best black plum ever. It is best when it naturally detached itself from stalk and fall to ground. This time, fresh drop is necessary as it quickly deteriorate. Windy day causes lot of drops. Shaking the branches lightly is a good alternative. Market bought plum shaken with a dash of salt is not bad, but not as good.

None of the unwanted stuffs are present. A lucky day. I picked few and enjoyed the right sweet and sour blend. My kids also like it but may like it even more if the hint of sourness is minimized.

Mango ripened on tree taste great too. Continues water and nutrient supply while under ripening process might have a great impact on this. The Carabao Mango, popularly known as Manila Super Mango has superb taste. Much better if allowed to ripen while on tree. During harvesting, ripe and nearly ripe are separated and sold separately for higher cost. Double to triple. On the economic side, harvesting them mature green then force to ripe is cost efficient.

Adding more pieces to existing puzzle. Santol is a moody tree. There are fruiting seasons when it bears sweet fruits and sometimes sour. When it turns from sweet to sour. The old belief kicks in. I was gotten the attention of a pregnant women. The term “napaglihihihan” in Tagalog. When the sour santol turns sweet, they give no explanation to it. In reality, nutrient mix in the soil is responsible. Our horticulture professor mentioned it once.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.