Table of content A-Z

 

coconut

 

Botanical name: Cocos nucifera


Kokosnuss

 

The exact origin of the coconut is not clear. This is because coconuts can be transported over many kilometres, swimming on the water, and nevertheless remain capable of germinating. The Melanesian area in the western Pacific between Indonesia and Australia is presumed to be its original home. However, the tropical region of South America or Southeast Asia might also be possible. These are the main areas of coconut cultivation today.

Coconuts have long been considered a typical fruit of the tropics, where they are widely found in differing forms. Coconut palms can be 100 years old and grow mainly close to the coast.


Availability


Coconuts can be bought the year round. Since they grow in the tropics, they have no fixed harvest time. From the blossom to maturity, coconuts require about 400 days.


Appearance, taste, characteristics


Botanically speaking, coconuts are drupes, or stone fruits. They can weigh up to 1 kg. Their outermost shell is a water-tight, green layer of wax. This is removed directly following the harvest. Underneath it is a hard fibrous shell. It is oval and becomes flat at one end, where there are three depressions called 'eyes'. These eyes were the reason why the Spaniards called the fruit coco, meaning grimace.

Beneath this hard shell is a thin, brownish, edible seed coat. The hollow space within the fruit is filled with a watery liquid. Over time, this solidifies partially and becomes the white meat. The watery liquid is known as coconut milk, but it would be more correct to call it coconut water. The sweet-sour tasting coconut water can be drunk. The meat tastes nutty.


Ingredients


Although coconuts are very nutritious and contain a large amount of fat, this is nevertheless less than in most other nuts. In contrast to other varieties, the fat of the coconut consists mainly of saturated fatty acids.

The iron and mineral content of the coconut is also relatively low in comparison to other nuts. The meat of the coconut contains a goodly amount of water, however, and is very rich in fibre.

100 g contain:

Coconut, fresh
Coconut, grated
Coconut milk
Energy (kcal)
358
611
24
Water (g)
45
2
94
Protein (g)
4
6
< 1
Fat (g)
37
63
< 1
Carbohydrates (g) (g)
5
6
5
Fibre (g)
9
20
-
Vitamin E (mg)
0,7
1,3
-
Folic acid (µg)
30
9
10
Vitamin C (mg)
2
1
2
Potassium (mg)
380
600
280
Sodium (mg)
35
33
47
Calcium (mg)
20
25
27
Magnesium (mg)
39
90
30
Iron (mg)
2,3
3,5
0,1
Saturated fatty acids
31,6
54,8
0,3
Monounsaturated fatty acids (g)
2,2
3,8
-
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (g)
0,6
1,0
-



Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions


It is very important to shake a coconut to test it before you buy it. If there is no gurgling sound when you shake it, this means that all of the coconut water has solidified, and the meat will taste soapy. The eyes of the nut should be undamaged and show no signs of mould.

Unopened coconuts can be kept for several months. If they are stored for too long, they take on a soapy taste. Fresh coconut meat can be kept in the refrigerator for about 1 week when it is covered with water; it can also be frozen.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation


The difficulty of eating a coconut consists in cracking the hard shell and getting at the meat. The best method is to first drill holes into two of the three eyes and let the coconut water flow out.

There is a trick that can be used to free the meat from the shell more easily: Put the nut in the oven at 200°C for 10–15 minutes. To get to the meat inside, the hard shell must now be removed. When you break the shell it is a good idea to first put the nut into a bag.

In the household grated coconut is used for baking, e.g. for coconut macaroons or to decorate desserts. The influence of international cuisine has made it more and more popular to use coconut or its liquid for cooking. For example, grated coconut is used to bread meat or fish, and coconut liquid is added to soups and sauces.

You can also prepare a rather thick 'coconut milk' for yourself. Put grated coconut meat with some water in a blender, and then pour the liquid through a fine sieve.

Grated coconut is used in the baking and confectionery industries. In the countries that grow coconuts, they are used to make alcoholic drinks; liqueurs such as Batida de Coco are also popular with us as a party drink. Also popular and delicious is the combination of pineapple and coconut. Just think of the well-known cocktail Piña Colada.

Coconut oil, extracted from the white meat, has many uses. It is the raw material for firm, white coconut fat, and it is also used in cosmetic products.


Miscellaneous


If you are very lucky, you can observe a natural wonder. Normally, one of the three eyes is covered by only a very thin skin, so that a new germ can emerge. Very rarely, however (in one in 11 thousand nuts), it happens that the third eye is also covered by a firm skin. The germ cannot grow outwards and therefore, because it is embedded in a lime-like or calcareous substance, forms a pearl.

 

 

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