Production of Neera and its Value Addition

{ Posted on Aug 19 2013 by admin }
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Categories : Coconut

Neera, also known as Sweet Toddy or Palm Nectar is a sap extracted generally before sunrise from the inflorescence of the coconut palm.Among the 2000 species of palms found in the world, only 9 species yield inflorescence sap,of which only 4 varieties are found in India- the Coconut palm, date palm, sago palm and Palmyra palm.

The Coconut tree also known as the ‘tree of life’ is a food supplier from its fruit, inflorescence and other edible products.The inflorescence of this palm is a source of many food products while its fertilized flower or fruit can be used to produce coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut meat etc. The sap can be processed into sap juice, crude sugar,honey etc. Its even marketed as an alcoholic drink.

Tapping- season and stage

Tapping for the extraction of Neera is mostly done in the dry season.The spathe is considered ready for tapping when the inflorescence opens or when its about to burst.The female flower within the unopened spadix creates a swelling at the base, which indicates the appropriate time for tapping.Tapping can be done throughout the year.Neera can be extracted from tall, dwarf and hybrid varieties.The hybrid varieties are the high yielders and the most preferred, followed by the tall ones.

Preservation of Neera

When exposed to sunlight, Neera undergoes fermentation. Through microbial actions, it first undergoes alcoholic and then acetic acid fermentation.The fermentation of the sap is prevented by pressurizing the sap for 10 minutes at 65 degree Celsius in a large cast iron pan.Such sap can be stored upto 3 days without any change in the quality.Many methods are available for removing the odour, improving quality and shelf life of the extracted neera.

Value Additions

    Coconut honey/syrup

The sap is boiled under moderate to very slow heat to become a sticky syrup called coconut honey.The liquid is allowed to cool and transferred into containers.These coconut honey will stay upto one year.

    Coconut Sugar

The production of coconut sugar is similar to honey, except that here remove the entire water content by further heating.Keep it in the flame until it becomes granular.Before packing, air dry the brown sugar.

    Coconut Vinegar

Pour fresh sap on to a plastic container and use a netted cover so that it allows air to pass and prevent from dirt.After 10 days fermentation in well ventilated room, the sap turns into vinegar. Vinegar is highly used as a preservative in pickle industries and as flavouring agent in food processing sector.

Economic Benefits

Neera (the unfermented inflorescence sap) can be used as a replacement for soft drinks which can be highly added to the economical benefits of the country

Social Benefits

Extraction of Neera possibly increases the number of coconut climbers and for such purpose, the rural youth could be trained, thus providing them with employment.

Taking into account the vast market potential of Neera,government should take measures to accept farmer’s demand to tap and market Neera.A favourable decision would make coconut farmers and the coconut production more competitive.

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