You put ‘da straw in ‘da coconut

I recently read something that declared 2012 “the year of the coconut.”

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If my pantry is any indication, this statement would certainly appear to be true…

Coconuts are the fruit of the coconut palm, which traditionally hails from Malaysia, though it is now grown in South America, India, Hawaii, and throughout the Pacific Islands. Each tree lives for approximately 70 years, and produces thousands of coconuts, each of which provides not only food and food products, but shells, fibers, and wood that can be used for household products and building materials. Each coconut has several layers: a smooth, tan outer covering; a hard, dark brown, hairy husk; a thick brown skin; creamy white coconut meat; and thin juice in the center.

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I have been drinking coconut water on an almost daily basis for about two years. It’s a terrific post-work out drink as it provides an incredible amount of electrolytes and potassium. Many commercially available brands of coconut water claim “it’s like sticking a straw in a coconut.” So, on a whim, I decided to buy a Thai young coconut to see if these claims are indeed true.

I followed the directions in this youtube video to open my coconut. Most young coconuts you can find in the store (mine was from Whole Foods) have the hairy brown husk removed.

straw in coconut

The taste of coconut water varies widely from brand to brand, so it’s hard to tell which comes closest to the taste of the water that I found in the center of my coconut. I find that each brand, and the natural juice, takes a little getting used to at first. I suggest that you start by drinking a fruity version, and then wean yourself down to the unflavored varieties. That’s what I did, and I now love the unflavored variety, especially Zico brand.

coconut waters

The Chocolate Zico tastes like chocolate milk! It has a bit of coconut cream mixed in, and while great on its own, would probably make a killer smoothie.

Although I bought the coconut to taste the water, upon opening it, I became more excited about the soft, chewy meat I found coating the insides. Chunks of coconut meat can be grated or chopped, which becomes the dried coconut that is commonly sold for baking. When blended with the juice, the coconut meat makes coconut milk. Strain the milk, or use less water, and you get coconut cream. The meat can also be dried and pressed to create coconut oil.

open coconut

What plethora of options that the coconut offers!

But how did we humans discover that those funny, hard to crack fruits contained such incredible meat and juice? I love imagining the first person to open a coconut (or a pineapple) and discovering the goodness inside. Nature offers such incredible variety…it never ceases to amaze me.

I’ll be experimenting with the coconut juice and meat over the next few days, and I’ll be back next week to share a recipe or two. Have you ever opened a fresh coconut?

-L

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