Science Questions

Where does the milk in a coconut come from?

Sun, 20th Jul 2008

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Jeremiah asked:

How does coconut milk get inside the coconut in the first place?


Thereís an issue here because coconut milk is actually slightly different to coconut water.  Itís coconut water that you find inside a coconut.  Thatís not water thatís got in from the outside, itís created by the coconut itself.  Itís actually what we call the endosperm of the coconut plant.  Thatís the stuff that gives the nutrition for the developing seed, a bit like the flesh of a banana.  As the fruit ripens the coconut water gets converted into the solid fruit that you find in there.  If you have an unripe coconut the water will be quite sweet and very nice.  The riper it gets the less pleasant it gets to drink.


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Jeremiah asked the Naked Scientists: Can you please explain how coconut water gert into the fruit and what is its function and uses? What do you think? Jerryade, Sat, 19th Jul 2008

When coconuts mature, what will be the white flesh starts as a thin layer of clear jelly. The jelly gets thicker and more dense as the coconut gets older until the dense meat that we are after is all present, lining the shell.

While this is happening, the juice (milk) which is mostly water (from the ground via the tree's phloem cells) starts off a bit cloudy but clears and becomes sweeter (through photosynthesis)as the coconut matures.

The protective inner shell develops simultaneously as does the fibrous outer shell that we don't tend to see very often but is useful as a floor covering when woven. blakestyger, Sat, 19th Jul 2008

How do you make sugar from a sugar cane Amy, Sat, 17th May 2014

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