Water: extraction and filtration
Coconuts are perforated and positioned to recover water. Extracted coconut water is fed to a filtration system to remove the fragments of the shell originated by the perforation process. The product is extremely sensitive and should be immediately cooled down to 2-4°C in order to avoid microbiological and chemical changes.
Milk: kernel chopping and cream extraction
Nuts are deshelled, pared and then routed to a chopper that assures a very fine particle size. The chopped kernel is sent to an helicoidal extractor where the coconut cream is extracted.
Water & milk: pasteurization, separation and cooling
Water is pasteurized and processed by a high speed separator in order to decrease the content of oil, remove the suspended solids and standardize the product. Coconut water is then collected in insulated stirred tanks to ensure that the next sections can be continuously operated.
The process sections for pasteurization, separation and cooling for coconut water are used also for coconut milk and cream. If water and milk are processed in the same plant, the same pasteurizer, separator and cooler for water process can be used for cream as well.
To concentrate coconut water, LTCD evaporators are used. Rising film plate evaporators ensure the lowest retention time and temperature, and therefore better organoleptic characteristics.
Water & milk: sterilization and filling
The coconut water (whether single strength or concentrated) shall be sterilized before being aseptically filled. Sterilization can be carried out by a tubular or plate heat exchanger or, if food grade steam is available, by a direct heating injection system completed by a tubular heat exchanger.
The same process technology described for the water sterilization and aseptic filling can be used for coconut milk and cream. In case of cream processing, the indirect heat treatment is done only by tubular heat exchangers. The milk is homogenized in order to avoid phase separation of water and fat during storage.