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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Exploring the influence of sterilisation and storage on some physicochemical properties of coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) water

Adolf K Awua*, Edna D Doe and Rebecca Agyare

Author Affiliations

Cellular and Clinical Research Centre, Radiological and Medical Sciences Research Institute, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Accra, Ghana

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:451  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-451

Published: 27 October 2011



Fresh coconut (Cocos nucifera L) water is a clear, sterile, colourless, slightly acidic and naturally flavoured drink, mostly consumed in tropical areas. It is a rich source of nutrients and has been used for medical purposes. This study was designed to investigate changes in selected characteristics of coconut water after autoclaving, gamma irradiation and storage. Also, the study was designed for assessing the possibility of measuring the growth of bacterial in fresh, stored or sterilised coconut water using turbidity measurements (at wavelengths between 600 nm and 800 nm) or by dry biomass determinations.


Portions of coconut water aseptically extracted from the matured fruit, (average pH of 6.33 ± 0.17) were either stored at 4°C, autoclaved at 121°C for 20 min., or irradiated with gamma rays at 5 kGy. Subsequent changes in selected characteristics were determined. Autoclaving, gamma irradiation and long term storage of coconut water at 4°C resulted both in the development of a pale to intense yellow colour and changes in turbidity. After storage, the dry matter content of fresh, autoclaved and irradiated coconut water by 52.0%, 23.5% and 5.0% respectively. There were also significant differences in the UV spectra before and after sterilisation and during the storage of the coconut water. Although changes in total carbohydrates were observed, they were not significant (p > 0.05).


The enormous differences in the characteristics before and after storage suggests that the use of turbidity and dry biomass measurements for measuring the growth of bacteria in fresh, autoclaved and gamma irradiated coconut water before storage is practicable without any possibility of interference by the innate turbidity, colour and dry matter of the coconut water. However, this is not practicable after storing the coconut waters at 4°C, since there were increases in the turbidity and dry matter of the coconut water to levels that will mask the turbidity of a growing bacteria culture.