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Tell me about coconuts

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I am a New England girl ... well, growing up. I have no coconut savy.

It is not like I haven't been to states like Hawaii and Florida and seen coconut trees ... as in "Look, a coconut tree". It is not that I haven't occasionally bought some from time to time.

But living in a tropical area now ... I know nothing about them.

First of all, I never REALLY looked at a coconut tree. A lot of the coconuts are yellow as in this picture ... and they are smooth-skinned even when they turn brown and fall off the tree.
http://www.kriyayoga.com/photography/...

I had a water coconut, I think today
http://www.produceoasis.com/Items_fol...

This seems to be different than a young coconut which seems to be of the Thai variety
http://www.produceoasis.com/Items_fol...

So I think this is the green version of the regular old supermarket variety. The link about water coconuts is spot on "Water coconut can contain over two quarts of juice if you're thirsty, but don't buy them for the coconut meat

There really was way over a quart of juice inside. I'm relieved about the meat not being all that as I was wondering if I was being stupid just drinking the liquid and not opening it up for the meat. The meat seemed like regular coconut meat, but was very thin.

So, are there different types of coconuts ... and how do they differ? Is one variety the best?

If you grew up or live in a tropical area, how do you use coconuts right off the tree?

From Chow ingredients
http://www.chow.com/ingredients/11?ta...

"The coconut common in markets is a mature fruit that has had its outer husk removed. The outer husk is smooth and very tough, green to reddish brown, becoming gray as the fruit matures. Between this outer husk and the inner nut is the familiar hard, woody brown shell covered with coarse brown fibers"

Who knew? I thought they just got hairy as the matured.

It goes on ... "In a young coconut, the kernel is soft and the liquid abundant but unpleasant. As the fruit ripens to what is called “green coconut,” the kernel gradually hardens to a creamy texture and the liquid becomes sweet, called coconut juice or coconut water. Products called coconut milk or coconut cream, however, are extracted from the meat of the coconut. In mature coconuts there is a small amount of liquid, which is generally discarded, while the kernel is solid and slightly fibrous."

So, what exactly are those white coconuts you see at Mexican markets and restaurants. They are usually sold for the juice ... but there is not as much as what I had today and the white meat is much thicker.

A few years back StriperGuy did a nice report

Life Cycle of a Coconut and how to make coconut milk
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/311956

He discusses coconut milk which is not the water ... "Coconut milk is made by finely grating the hard white flesh of a mature coconut and then running water through it to extract the flavor. Freshly made coconut milk is amazing in Thai style curries, or even in a Pina Colada. Much richer, fresher, and more subtle then canned"

It is odd some countries use coconut milk in recipes and others don't seem to. Filipions and Indians seem to use it a lot. Maybe I'm ignorant, but it doesn't seem a big ingredient in Hawaii and certainly not here in Guatemala ... or even Mexio, really.

Another Report

Coconut Water/Sea Coconuts
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/417551

Coconut trivia and ideas I've gleaned thru google

- cicoconut water has electrolytes and is used for sports drinks. In this area with smothering tropical heat, to me it just seems interesting that nature provides something that would replenish what is lost through a lot of sweating

- There was a mention of adding ginger to coconut water which sounds like it could be excellent

- Avoid drinking the water or eating the meat from a young coconut that is even slightly pink on the inside.

- Coconuts have a shelf life of about 2 months. It can take longer than 2 months to reach the market, because coconuts are shipped by boat

Well, no wonder I haven't been impressed with coconuts. By time I have bought them at the ma rket, they were already, at best, at the end of their shelf life

- Falling coconuts kill 150 people every year - 10 times the number of people killed by sharks

I love, love love this site that not only has a video on how to open a coconut, but provides the script for that video ... and lots of trivia. Not all of us have good internet connections and I have sadly passed on a lot of videos wishing that the text were also provided
http://www.mahalo.com/how-to-open-a-c...

Love the idea that one of the many ways you can get water from a coconut is to use a corkscrew .. with screwtop wine bottles gaining popularity, I now have another use form my corkscrews.

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  1. You have provided a lot of information.
    When I was young we picked the green coconuts for it's juice content and the meat was just thin. We called it "spoon meat" because you could take a spoon or your fingers and take it all out at one try. It was nioce and soft. We made a hole at the top where it looked like eyes and either put a straw in or just drank it from the hole.

    The yellow coconuts are ripe and have less juice but more meat. After drinking the juice we would break the shell and eat the meat. The meat is usually ground up and squeezed to produce coconut milk which was used to make such dishes as haupia, Hawaiian coconut pudding and chicken luau. Or the meat was dried and used to top cakes and pies.

    The husk can be used for differnt things, Now days it is cleaned and dried and used in water filter units. The coconut leaves were used to build roofs, hula skirts, mats, hats and baskets. the coconut trunk was to make the frame of the ha'le (house).

    Coconut gathering is a dying occupation. India is the worlds top producer. The children of coconut pickers/ farmers are looking for better and more profitable opportunities. When you get paid 20 cents a coconut it makes it a long day at work.

    Mahalo and Aloha...

    1 Reply
    1. re: flylice2x

      Thanks for the info. I'll have to see if the meat is easy to remove next time.

    2. Alton Brown had an entire episode dedicated to coconut cake that had some incredibly informative info on the various stages of the coconut and how you can make the best use of each stage.