Pili: Its Uses and Food Value
One of the most important indigenous edible nut fruit-bearing trees in the Philippines is pili. It has a nationwide acceptance and has great potential to develop into a major industry. In view of the high commercial and industrial potential of pili, it is considered as the flagship crop of the Bicol Region (Orolfo and Orbase, 1998). The pili is a plant with various uses.
Tree. Described as “majestic tree” makes it an ideal tree for lining avenues, border or lawn tree, developing parks, subdivisions and golf courses. It is an evergreen tree with evenly spreading leaves making it an excellent shade tree and windbreaker because it does not shed its leaves, shade for other crops such as abaca, coffee, cacao, bananas, papayas; agroforestry; its undergrowth is clean and shady year-round.
Pulp. The green pulp can be made into pickle, which is best done soon after the shell has hardened, but before the pulp becomes too fibrous. The boiled ripe pulp is edible and is usually eaten seasoned with salt, pepper, or with a salted fish sauce. It resembles boiled sweet potato in texture, but has a rather insipid taste. It can also be made into a spread. No data are available regarding the quantity of pulp consumed as a foodstuff. The pulp also contains an oil that is used for cooking and lighting. Oil from the pili pulp could also be used in the manufacture of soap and other products, although these potential industrial uses have not yet been exploited.
Shell. The hard, stony shell of the pili seed is chiefly used in cooking, for which it makes an excellent fuel. It is also well suited as a component of the growing medium for orchids and anthuriums. When polished and varnished, the shell makes an attractive keyholder, and ornaments fashioned out of the shells of other Canarium species are popular with local and foreign tourists in Indonesia. The use of the pili shell in the manufacture of charcoal has not yet been explored.
Kernel. The pili nut kernel is the most important part of the fruit and has many uses. When eaten raw, it is crispy and has a delicious flavor. It is also eaten roasted, fried or sugar-coated. It is frequently used as an ingredient in cakes, puddings and ice cream, and when cooked in syrup, makes a good preserve. The roasted kernel is sometimes used in chocolate-making. It is also rich in oil, which is suitable for culinary purposes. At present, extraction of the oil from the pili kernel is not being explored owing to an inadequate supply of nuts, even for the kernel industry.
Testa. The covering of the seed is just thrown away but once its chemical composition is known, it may find some uses in the industry. The testa is dark brown and contains tannins and phenolic constituents. Tannins within the testa of the seed functions as a defense mechanism against insect consumption, and are also known to bind with proteins within the digestive tract by forming insoluble complexes. The testa or seed coat is also used as animal feed.
The kernel has 8% moisture, 14.2% protein (dry weight), and 68.5% fat (dry weight). Its nutritious pulp and kernel are excellent sources of vegetables fats and protein. It is rich in fats and minerals such as magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. A 100 g of edible portion provides 636 Kcal. Unlike other fruit nuts, the pili nut is not highly perishable.
Protein. Like lean cooked beef, pili contains about 14.2% protein. Combining pili with grains, beans and dairy products provides an ideal essential amino acid profile.
Carbohydrates and fiber. Pili is primarily protein and fat with carbohydrates constituting only 3.2% of the total weight.
Fat. The slowest dietary component to be digested, fat provides a concentrated source of energy and contributes to satisfying hunger. Over half the weight of pili is fat.
Micronutrients. Pili is also a significant source of several other minerals and vitamins.
The most common methods of cooking or processing pili nut for food are by roasting, baking, or boiling. Variations are made by adding flavoring agents such as sugar, salt, lemon rind, vanilla, and others. Changes in food composition takes place between processed and raw pili nut. Processed pili nut has higher carbohydrates, fiber, and iron contents and as lower protein, fat, calcium, and phosphorus