We were invited to macapuno processing area. They were processing and selling sweetened macapuno and macapuno bucayo to partially fund the macapuno tissue culture project. The inviter wanted us to buy some of their sweet products. Only sweetened macapuno was available so we had a free taste of it and bought half kilo each.
The real area purpose is propagating tissue cultured macapuno tree. The coconut embryos are being extracted and grown inside test tubes under controlled environment. Instead of discarding the coconut meat, they are processing and selling it as additional source of funds.
The native macapuno tree bears nuts with only 1-3 macapuno per bunch. Bearing all non-macapuno nut is likely. When a tissue cultured makapuno seedling is grown, it can bear as much as 80% percent macapuno nuts (need more confirmation though).
A 100 percent macapuno yield is often not possible due to cross pollination with regular coconut trees – pollination by insects and wind. The suggested solution is plant the whole island with tissue cultured macapuno tree.
The nut when fully matured is almost filled with soft meat (compared to hard meat of regular). The macapuno nuts below are probably still immature and perhaps the right harvest stage for embryo extraction and sweets processing. Or maybe just a regular coconut. I forgot to asked about it.
Macapuno, like the picture above are scraped carefully to produce long meat strands for sweetened product making. Remaining meat is scraped again with a spoon and used for making bukayo.
Macapuno tissue culture may not be the right term. The germination rate of macapuno nut is very low. By extracting the embryo and growing it inside the laboratory, the chance of germination can be increased. According to our boss, the more appropriate term is embryo rescue or bio rescue.
I bought the sweetened macapuno for my wife who recently gave birth to a baby girl. However, mother-in-law said she cannot eat macapuno yet. The reason – she is breastfeeding.