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Food and Furniture: Coconut and Mango

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Mango Wood Bookcase, Mid Century Modern

Though there are many reasons for the recent popularity of mango and Palm wood, the most important reason is their sustainability as sources for building material. When it comes to products being “green”, “eco-friendly”, “sustainable”, and made from “responsibly sourced materials”, the lumber trade, and in particular the furniture industry, have been under a microscope. Mango and Coconut trees are a perfect solution to this problem, because they are already grown in high numbers to support the fruit trade, which is not going anywhere.

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Mango trees reach maturity within 15 to 20 years. At this time they stop bearing fruit and are designated to be cut down. In the past, these trees were used as fuel or left to rot. However, these days they are being used for construction, most commonly in the furniture industry.

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Mango wood works well for building framed items that are meant to endure weight, like chairs, because it is a densely grained hardwood with a strong structure. At the same time it is soft compared to other hardwoods, so it is easy to work with and does not require special tools, meaning production is less expensive. Mango wood also does not require much waxing or staining, because it has an unusual , “close knit” grain texture, and a natural pattern. When mango wood is stained or finished, it responds quite well to the processes because the natural patterning is enhanced.

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This wood  varies widely in color, and can range from deep browns, to pinks and even greens. This is due to fungus in the tree, which creates beautiful color patterns but does not harm or compromise the woods structure. However it is common for manufacturers to stain mango wood to resemble oak or teak wood. They can then produce furniture than looks like oak or teak but is less expensive, faster to grow, and sourced responsibly.

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 Above: Mango wood stained in “Vintage Oak” style.

 

Palm trees are one of the most widely used trees on the planet, with each part of the tree used to produce a variety of products. However like mango trees, coconut palm trees are initially intended to produce coconuts, not wood. There comes a point in the tree’s life where it grows too tall for nutrients to reach it’s canopy. Because of this, the tree produces less and less coconuts and it becomes non profitable to keep the tree alive. In addition to producing less, the trunks of the trees become more woody with age, which is bad for coconuts but good for lumber.

 

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In the past, coconut trees that were used for their wood were sold to local businesses that milled them into low-grade lumber. However craftsman and companies in search of sustainable materials (that were also luxurious) discovered that if the Palm wood is milled and finished properly and with more care, the wood is actually fine, with unique grain patterns and a rich, dark, brown color. Once it is cured or dried, palm wood is very hard, more so than many other common woods such as oak. It is commonly used to make flooring and siding.

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Palm wood is being called “ the new bamboo” because it is similar in many ways, but is greener . Palm wood has Forest Stewardship Council approval because it is a by-product of coconut production. Because of this it is harvested on plantations that already exist rather than requiring additional plantations. Unlike bamboo, it is not grown on land where nothing else is grown. Palm wood, palm leaves and coconut shell are also used to create decorative detailing and embellishment on furniture. coconut shell is commonly used for inlay, in place of more traditional materials like glass or bone.

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 Inlay Console TableInlay Cube Stool

 

 

Recipe From Our Kitchen

Mango Coconut Curry Chicken (serves 1-2)

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1. Marinate 2 Chicken breasts  in salt, lemon juice, and olive oil for a minimum of 30 minutes or a max of overnight.

2. Heat up about 1 Tsp. Canola oil in a pan. Keep on Med/High.

3.  Make a “Curry Slurry”. Mix together 4 Tbsp. curry powder and a small amount of water-just enough to make a paste in a bowl.

4. Fry Curry Slurry in the pan you heated up for approximately. 10 minutes.

5. Add 1/2 of a sliced, white onion to the Curry Slurry, and heat for about 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.

6. Add in two thinly sliced chicken breasts.

7. When the chicken has some color but is not cooked all the way, add 1 thumb of finely sliced ginger, 1 diced red pepper, 1 head box choi minced and sliced.

8.Saute for 3 minutes, then turn down heat.

9.Stir in 1 can of coconut milk.

10. Top with diced mango and cilantro and serve over rice.