The coconut tree is considered the most useful tree because it provides everything needed to sustain life – The Kalpa Vriksha!
Though the coconuts and other benefits of the tree are well-known, the Coconut Sap – Neera has gained importance only in recent years.
This is because Neera is more nutritious than any other commercially marketed fruit juice in the country. Both State and Central government had taken the initiatives in setting up farmer producer companies with a view to tapping the market and increasing farmer’s income.
What is Neera?
Neera is a sweet sap extracted from the inflorescence of coconut palms. It is a non-alcoholic thirst quencher, high in nutritional value.
Selection of trees: The Tall country breed variety is chosen for tapping Neera as have longer economic lives, typically about 60-80 years. Tall coconut palms are also fairly resistant to diseases and pests, and thrive under different soil conditions. Thus avoids the usage of harmful pesticides and fertilizers.
Neera is highly susceptible to natural fermentation at ambient temperature within a few hours of extraction from the tree due to natural yeasts in air and once fermented, it transforms into toddy with 4% alcohol.
Traditional tappers slice off a small portion of inflorescence (spadix) at the tree top every day and apply a kind of clay, wax or leaf extract on it and tie a coconut leaf around the periphery of the cut surface so that the sap trickles down through the leaf to the pot connected at the end. However, the sap, which is rich in nutrients, undergoes fermentation in the open container.
It also gets contaminated by insects, ants, dust particles and pollen. To prevent fermentation, tappers coat the pot’s inner surface with lime. Thus, the sap collected is partially fermented and contains lime and other contaminants.
Tapping Cold Chain Neera:
To overcome the drawbacks of the traditional method and to retain the freshness, taste and nutritional content, Neera is tapped and maintained in Cold chain technology. In this method, a grooved adaptor is fixed near the cut end, and through a hard pipe the sap flows easily into a connecting bottle placed in an icebox.
As the device is airtight, sap is free from contamination and kept cool without fermentation. The device can be placed on the tree crown. When sap is collected every morning and evening, the ice cubes are changed.
The collected Cold chain Neera is transported to the processing facility. In the processing facility, Neera is pasteurised and bottled in aseptic condition. Bottled ready-to-serve coconut sap Neera is then distributed to sale points. Till pasteurisation it is maintained under 5°C to prevent fermentation.
Neera that exudes from individual tree has its unique taste and colour. Slight variation in colour and taste is normal.
Neera mixed with fresh passion fruit is a delicious treat.
Value added Neera Products:
Cold Chain – Coconut Sap Neera Health Drink
Pasteurised Neera Health Drink
Cold Chain Neera Jaggery Block
Coconut Sugar Neera Jaggery Powder
Coconut Nectar – Neera Honey
Coconut Sap Vinegar
Coconut Sap Veggi Wash
Neera Facts and Myths:
Myth: Neera and Toddy / Kallu are the same.
Fact: Neera is sweet and contains zero percent alcohol whereas fermented Neera which is Toddy or Kallu contains 4% alcohol. This gives a wrong interpretation for Fresh Neera. Toddy has a sour taste and pungent smell.
Myth: Neera and Padaneer are the same.
Fact: Both Neera and Padaneer are non alcoholic beverages. Padaneer is tapped using traditional method in partially closed clay pot brushed with lime. Padaneer, which is rich in nutrients, undergoes fermentation in the partially closed container. It also gets contaminated by insects, ants, dust particles and pollen.
Myth: Neera and Tender Coconut / Coconut water are the same.
Fact: Neera is tapped from the blossoms of coconut tree using Cold chain method. Whereas coconut water is present in matured coconuts or tender coconuts. Neera has rich nutritional content and electrolytes compared to Tender Coconut / Coconut water. Research says, 200 ml of Neera is equal to 5 tender coconuts.
Myth: Neera is prepared by mixing coconut water powder in water
Fact: Neera is coconut sap tapped from the inflorescence of coconut tree.
Is Neera Diabetic friendly?
Neera is Diabetic friendly as it has low Glycemic Index ranging between 35-40.
What is Glycemic Index?
Glycemic Index (GI) is the ranking of a food’s immediate effect on blood sugar levels and the amount of glucose released over a 2-3 hour period. The higher a food raises blood sugar, the higher the glycemic index. Foods ranked low on the GI scale release glucose into the body slowly and steadily without a sudden spike of glucose in the blood. Low glycemic foods rank 0-55, medium GI 56-69, and high glycemic foods rank 70-100 on the GI scale.
What is the shelf life of Pasteurised Neera?
Upto 6 months
Does Neera contain added sugar?
One of the many inherent characteristics of fresh coconut sap, is that it is already naturally sweet right out of the tree. It does not contain added sugar.
Why should Neera be consumed immediately after opening?
Neera starts fermenting when kept in contact with air. So it is advisable to consume immediately after removing the cap or can be closed tightly and stored in the freezer for a day or two.
Is Neera good for all ages?
Neera is a naturally tapped drink with zero added sugar, preservatives, flavours and colours. It is an ideal health drink for children as well as adults.