Wednesday, September 21

Cook Islands Noni

 This video started life as a look at scarifying noni seeds to speed up germination. Scarifying didn't make much of a difference as the seeds germinated and grew anyway but the video also grew and it now covers seedlings, planting, picking, pressing and bottling.


Morinda citrifolia is better known as noni.
Its knobbly egg-shaped fruit goes from green to yellow to white when ripe … and it is full of seeds.
Cook Islands Noni Marketing produces organic noni juice mainly for export and our customers are crying out for more.
So we need more growers … and more trees.
Noni seeds can take up to a year to germinate.
To try to speed up germination we scarified the seeds to roughen the the hard outer shell.
We also experimented with soaking the scarified seeds for one or two days but the wet seeds are much more fiddly to plant and it made little or no difference in germination time.
Even scarifying made only a small difference so we don't think the time spent was worth it.
The seedlings appear about 5 weeks after planting.
They are then transferred into dirt bags where they stay until ready for the plantation.
Small size 5 bags are used and plants must be watered daily.
They will be ready for field in 3 to 5 months after bagging when they should have healthy green leaves and a strong root system.
We fill the hole with organic compost from the local composting centre to give the plants a good start.
We make organic juice so there are no chemical sprays or fertilizers used in the plantations.
Weeds are kept down by regular mowing.
The old tyres protect the young trees from mowers and weed-eater.
Six months later the trees are are a metre or more high and already producing fruit.
The first fruit picked is small but as the trees grows the fruit will be larger.
Noni is not seasonal.  Once the trees start producing they continue year around.
Ripe fruit goes into large blue barrels.
Full barrels are collected, weighed, labelled and stored at the factory.
Ideally the fruit should be kept in the barrels for at least 3 months to maturate.
Junior is our processing expert.
The presses are 160 litre hydro-presses – no moving parts and they require little maintenance
They have a  large central bladder.
The maturated noni is packed into the press and when the bladder is filled with water, the pressure against the fruit squeezes out the juice.
For darker juice a longer maturation period is needed.
Most of our customers prefer dark juice.
The juice is filtered through clean white cotton material.
This can be re-used after thorough washing in plain water.
The food grade blue barrels hold 125 litres of noni juice.
When we have an order, we press then pasteurise the juice by heating it to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (about 30 degrees Celsius) for about 15 seconds.
The pasteurised noni juice is pumped into 1000 litre IBCs (Intermediate Bulk Containers).
Filters for the pasteuriser are used only once
Some of our customers prefer bulk juice which we ship overseas so that they can bottle it themselves.
Other clients prefer bottled juice, rather than the bulk product
Noni juice has a sweetish smell but some people say it tastes like liquid cheese.
It contains many trace elements
Noni juice is said to boost the immune system.
It's been used for hundreds of years by the native Polynesians as a natural food supplement and health tonic.
A good way to take it is 20ml first thing in the morning, sometimes mixed with fruit juice.
CINM is certified every year by Australian Certified Organic (ACO) for Japan and the US.
It is also certified organic for the Chinese market.
CINM has been operating for over 10 years.

Te Maeva Nui Float Parade 2016

This year's Te Maeva Nui (constitution celebrations) just featured teams from Rarotonga but the float parade that started things off was as popular as ever.

The route was somewhat shorter than it has been in the past. It started from Punanga Nui market and travelled sown the sea-side of the main road to the VIP tent which was set up on the area that looks like waste ground most of the time but is, I believe, actually now called Constitution Park, opposite St Joseph's, the Catholic cathedral.

In the traditional manner the parade was late starting because we all had to wait for the speeches to finish. I don't know why politicians bother with long speeches at public events because nobody listens to them, they don't get reported in any kind of detail in the media and they just annoy people who are waiting for the fun to begin.

And it was fun, once it started, for both participants and spectators.

Cruising the Mekong River in Laos

Hmm. I havaen't been very active on RaroLens recently. Well, that's a bit of an understatement as you can see; the last video was added towards the end end of January so it's time to catch up and add a few more.

In March we went on another Pandaw cruise, this one was on the Mekong River in Laos. Fabulous, as all the Pandaw cruises are. The boat was newly built ( and had just 10 cabins so it was easy to get to know everyone; and the crew were as friendly, efficient and fun as always.

The Laos Mekong is quite different from the Vietnam and Cambodian sections downstream with many fast-flowing sections and rapids. Our trip headed from the capital Vientiane to Huang Say on the border with Thiland.We finally disembarked in Chiang Khong, Thailand. As we cruised north, the scenery became more mountainous and the weather got colder.

Here are a couple of videos of the cruise (and one of these days I'll get around to finishing some more, because Laos was a fascinating country).