With the rise of popularity in liquid coconut products these days, it’s no wonder that people tend to regularly stock this inside their household. However, just like any perishable good, these products tend to have a limited shelf life that deteriorates over time. It’s because of this that people look for ways to extend these products’ shelf life for as long as possible.
When we talk about a product’s shelf life, it is basically defined as the time it can be stored before its quality falls below an acceptable level. Common indicators which determine a product’s shelf life include its taste, color, smell and viscosity. For instance, products like coconut water may have its color change from colorless to either pink or brown.
A product’s deterioration can happen anytime from the pre-processing stage to its delivery to the consumer. This is why manufacturers need to thoroughly check the production process to make sure that their products have the maximum amount of shelf life possible.
Below are the various factors that can affect the shelf life of coconut liquid products:
- Coconut Quality – The quality of raw coconut used for processing mainly depends on the proper cleaning during production. This is because coconuts have a high microbial load after harvesting, which is why it is essential to have a thorough cleaning process. Leftover microorganisms can have an adverse effect to the shelf life of the subsequent products if left unchecked.
- Storage Conditions – The proper storage of raw coconuts is important if contamination wants to be avoided. Coconut meat is prone to spoilage if it is stored in non-ideal conditions. Temperature of processed and unprocessed coconuts play a big part here, seeing as unregulated heat can lower a product’s shelf life.
- Processing Operation – There is a strict sterilization process that the raw coconuts undergo to ensure that the processed coconut products are safe and hygienic. Liquid products generally undergo three common heating processes to ensure maximized shelf life – pasteurization, sterilization and ultra-high temperature processing, with each processes requiring a specific type of packaging.
- Packaging System – The proper packaging of coconut products is paramount to ensure quality under various shelf life conditions. This includes the type of packaging used for these products. Factors such as the composition of the packaging, as well as quality parameters and storage conditions need to be taken into consideration. Take note that while packaging can protect coconut liquid products, it does not necessarily improve its quality over time.
- Packaging and Seal Quality – The packaging stage of coconut liquid products is an important step in its overall production. Sterilization plays a big part of keeping its shelf life intact. There are several methods of sterilization that can be used, from heat treatment to irradiation, all of which must be completed diligently to avoid any contamination.
- Distribution Conditions – The time it takes for the products to be distributed to the consumers is also taken into consideration. Any damage occurred during transportation can compromise the product’s packaging and subsequently lower its shelf life.
- Consumer Handling – After the product is finally delivered to the consumer, it is up to them to keep their respective coconut product as well preserved as possible. Products like coconut milk or oil should not be kept in excessive temperatures. Coconut water products likewise should be kept refrigerated.
In the end, both manufacturers and consumers need to be mindful about their coconut liquid products’ shelf life if they want to make the most out of them. Safe consumption of these products really depends on how they are properly maintained to avoid any unwanted deterioration.