A recent type of kernel, known as Coco babassu and bassoba, is derived from a species of Attalea, possibly A. funifera, Mart. The tree is stated to be abundant in the State of Maranham, Brazil (Dipl. and Cons. Reps., Ann. Ser., No. 5,526 ; Report on the Trade of Para, 1914). Considerable quantities of Babassu kernels have been exported lately, the quantity in 1916 amounting to nearly 1,500 tons. The greater part of the kernels appear to have been obtained by hand-shelling, the nuts being placed on end in a hole in a board and struck with an axe ; but British machinery for shelling the nuts is stated to have been introduced.

The kernels have been crushed on a fairly large scale in this country, and there seems to be every prospect of increased supplies being brought here. They are said to have been sold at about 2 per ton less than the price paid for good copra.

The fruit weighs on an average about 45 grams, and consists of an outer fibrous pericarp enclosing a hard-shelled nut containing several kernels. A single fruit examined at the Imperial Institute contained five kernels, but, from the size and formation of the kernels as exported from Brazil, this is perhaps an unusually large number.

The kernels are reddish-brown, and of a characteristic elongated shape pointed bluntly at the ends ; they weigh on an average about 3 grams, and are 40 to 50 mm. long and about 13 mm. broad. They are easily distinguishable from Cohune kernels, which are shorter and rounder.

The kernels as received contained 4.2 per cent, of moisture and 67.2 per cent. (70.2 per cent, expressed on the dry kernels) of fairly hard, cream-coloured fat, resembling palm kernel and coconut oils in general appearance.

The results of examination of the residual meal show that it should possess a feeding value about equal to that of coconut cake and somewhat superior to that of palm kernel cake.

Tucan kernels contain 6.5 per cent, of moisture and yield 48.6 per cent, of fat (52.0 per cent, expressed on the dried material), and weigh on an average 3.6 grams. They are tougher than palm kernels or copra. The kernels of the large Panama nuts contain 7.1 per cent, moisture and 37.6 per cent, of fat, while the residual meal contains only 10 per cent, of protein. The kernels sold at from 1 to 2 per ton below the price of fine palm kernels.

Paraguay kernels are smaller than, but otherwise indistinguishable in appearance from, gru-gru kernels (A. sclerocarpa) from the West Indies; the former, however, contain a somewhat higher percentage of fat of decidedly softer consistency and higher iodine value. Comparatively little is known of South American palms and of the difficulty of identifying the species by the seed or fruit alone ; it is quite probable, therefore, that gru-gru and Paraguay kernels are not identical in origin.

The Paraguay kernels are roughly spherical, about 12 mm. in diameter, and weigh about 1 gram each ; the skin is almost black and the flesh softer than that of the West African oil-palm kernels. The kernels as received contained 6.0 per cent, of moisture and 65.2 per cent, of fat (69.4 per cent, expressed on the dried material). The fat is decidedly softer than either coconut or palm-kernel oils, being only semi-solid at ordinary temperature ; the iodine value is higher than that of either of these oils or of the oils derived from the other kinds of palm kernels examined. The residual meal of Paraguay kernels is richer in proteins than coconut cake, and should have a high feeding value. The kernels are stated to have been sold recently in Liverpool at prices between those of fine palm kernels and copra.

Chemical Characters of the Oil.

Babassu

Tucan

Paraguay

Kernels.

Kernels.

Kernels.

Melting point, ....

26° C.

30.5° C.

• •

Solidifying point of fatty acids,

23° C

27° C.

21° C.

Specific gravity at 100C/15C

0.868

0.867

0.865

Acid value, ....

5.5

2.9

26.1

Saponification value, .

249

249

247

Iodine value, per cent. (Hiibl 17 hrs.), . . .

15.6

11.6

28.5

Unsaponifiable matter, per cent.,

0.3

0.3

0.3

Volatile acids, soluble,

5.8

3.8

6.5

insoluble,

10.2

5.9

10.2

These kernels are, therefore, valuable additions to the oil seeds now utilised as sources of fat in the edible fat industry. The Tucan and Paraguay nuts do not offer any particular difficulty in the way of exploitation, as the sheila can be cracked by machinery such as is already used for ordinary palm nuts in West Africa. In the case of Babassu nuts, however, like Cohune nuts, the problem of extracting the kernels is more difficult, as the fruits have a fibrous pericarp, the removal of which is generally regarded as necessary before the nuts can be cracked.

For cracking " Babassu " nuts a machine has been constructed by Messrs. Hind & Lund, of Preston. In this machine the nuts are crushed endwise between a fixed steel anvil with a concave depression on the surface and another anvil operated by means of an eccentric device attached to gearing which may be worked either by hand or power. The machine is stated to deal with 40 nuts per minute, and is sold at 25, f.o.b. Liverpool (if 100 machines are ordered at one time).

The Downie machine, designed by Wotherspoon, consists essentially of a depulping device for removing the fibrous pericarp, a centrifugal nut-cracker working in conjunction with an oscillating riddle, and also with a brine bath or with water for separating the broken shell from the kernels. The machine is driven by means of a 5 H.P. oil engine.

Another nut-shelling machine, designed to shell "hard nuts, such as the Cohune nut," has been patented by Dyer and Innes-Ward (English Pat., 5687/1913). This machine can deal with 8 to 10 tons of Cohune nuts per day, and requires 11/4 H.P.

Both of the last-named machines are devised for Cohune nuts, but the " Babassu," being very similar in hardness, could doubtless be handled by the same machinery.

The Strephonema Nut.-Three new oilseeds from Tropical Africa have been reported as having been received and experimented on by the Imperial Institute during 1917-1918.

Coconuts, Kernels, etc.- Capt H. O. Newland.

Plate XI

Revolving Box Press for Copra, Palm Kernels

"Craig" Revolving Box Press for Copra, Palm Kernels, etc.