Why does coconut water turn pink?
In this guide, we will address and answer the query, “why does coconut water turn pink?”. Also, we will discuss how to preserve coconut water for it to last longer. In addition, we will answer whether it is safe to drink coconut water and if it is good for your health.
Why does coconut water turn pink?
Pink discoloration of coconut water during processing and storage primarily occurs due to the presence of naturally occurring phenolic substrates in the coconut water.
These phenolic substrates undergo enzymatic action by polyphenol oxidase (PPO), which is also naturally present in the coconut water. The activity of PPO is further enhanced by exposure to higher temperatures and metal contamination. (1)
Is pink coconut water a sign of quality loss?
Yes. The enzymes polyphenol oxidases (PPO) and peroxidases (POD) play a vital role in diminishing the storage life and market potential of coconut water.
Even under refrigerated storage conditions, the catalytic activities of these enzymes can lead to numerous undesirable effects in coconut water.
This is not restricted to the formation of pink color but also includes browning, unpleasant flavors, and odors, all stemming from the enzymatic processes and microbial activity. (2)
Is it safe to drink pink coconut water?
Yes, pink coconut water is generally safe to drink. However, the safety of pink coconut water depends on a number of factors, including the quality of the coconuts used and the method of production.
The consequence of PPO or POD activities in coconut water is discoloration. Not only pink but yellow or brown discoloration of the coconut water can occur a few minutes or a few hours after the nut is cracked. (2)
How Can You Tell If Coconut Water Is Bad?
Unpleasant flavors, and odors, all stemming from the enzymatic processes and microbial activity.
Besides changes in color, catalytic activities of food enzymes develop many unappealing effects in coconut water.
Furthermore, fresh coconut water is extremely susceptible to microbial attacks, specifically from microorganisms such as Clostridium botulinum.
Once extracted from the nut, coconut water rapidly becomes highly vulnerable to microbial contamination. This not only causes a loss of essential nutritional elements but also significantly reduces its shelf life. (2)
What are the risks of spoiled coconut water?
The consumption of spoiled coconut water carries a risk as it may contain harmful bacteria, including E. coli, salmonella, and listeria.
Ingesting these bacteria can lead to various infections, resulting in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
Consuming coconut water that shows signs of spoilage should be avoided to prevent potential health complications. (2)
How can you prevent coconut water from turning pink?
When addressing the issue of pink discoloration in coconut water, the use of secondary direct food additives is considered by some as a potential solution to remove the phenolic substrates.
However, this approach raises concerns due to the natural/organic perception of coconut water and the potential health risks associated with chemical additives in food products.
An alternative method involves treating coconut water with food-grade resins. This approach aims to adsorb the polyphenolic constituents present in the beverage, which are subsequently removed through filtration.
It is important to note that this method does not involve the addition of any additives and, as a result, is not considered an additive itself. (1)
At room temperature (27 °C), coconut water has limited stability and undergoes noticeable changes in smell and taste in less than 24 hours. The acidity of coconut water, measured by its citric acid content, increases as it matures, resulting in a sour taste due to microbial spoilage.
Freshly harvested green coconuts can be preserved for 5 to 7 days when stored under ambient conditions.
To maintain the quality of tender coconut water for a longer duration, it can be stored in glass or PET bottles at temperatures ranging from -20°C to +2°C, which allows it to retain its freshness for 2-3 months.
Alternatively, if coconut water is heated to 100°C for 10 minutes, it can be stored for up to 6 months at room temperature.
Additionally, when packed in Tetra Pak or PET containers, both fresh and stabilized coconut water can remain suitable for consumption for as long as 12 months, maintaining their quality over an extended period.(3-5)
How can you preserve coconut water for long?
While contained within the coconut fruit, coconut water is regarded as the most sterile liquid. However, its natural shelf life is relatively short. Even a small crack in the coconut shell can lead to spoilage of the water inside.
Therefore, it is essential to extend the shelf life of coconut water to ensure its preservation during transportation to different regions of the country. (3)
Similar to other tropical fruits, subjecting coconut to temperatures below 12 °C can lead to chilling injury, causing the coconut skin to brown quickly.
However, when considering the whole coconut without any treatment, optimal preservation results were observed when stored for 28 days at either 12 °C or 17 °C. (6)
In this brief guide, we have answered the question “Why does coconut water turn pink?” with an in-depth explanation of how to prevent coconut water from turning pink and how to preserve it for long. Moreover, we have discussed how to tell when the water has gone bad.
Hope you found this blog useful, if you have any questions, please let us know
- Garcia B., Masa D.B., Rodriguez M.J., RolleR., Control of pink discoloration in coconut water, Cord 23 67–83 2007.
- Prithviraj, V., Pandiselvam, R., Babu, A. C., Kothakota, A., anikantan, M. R., Ramesh, S. V., … Hebbar, K. B. Emerging non-thermal processing techniques for preservation of tender coconut water. LWT, 149, 111850. 2021.
- L., Sunil & Appaiah, Prakruthi & P K, Prasanth Kumar & A.G., Gopala Krishna. Coconut Water – A Nature’s miracle health drink: Chemistry, Health Benefits, Packaging, Storage, and Technologies: A Review. 1-11. 2020.
- Naik, M., C. K., S., Rawson, A., & N, V. Tender Coconut Water: A Review on Recent Advances in Processing and Preservation. Food Reviews International, 1–22. 2020.
- Aditi Mathur, Gadhe Shruthi. Market Analysis of Packed Tender Coconut Water in India. Institute Of Agri Business Management Swami Keshwanand Rajasthan Agricultural University Bikaner. 2019
- Prades, A., Dornier, M., Diop, N., & Pain, J.-P. Coconut water preservation and processing: a review. Fruits, 67(3), 157–171. 2012.