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Chris Amirault

Coconuts

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Does anyone have any tips for shelling, creaming, and milking fresh coconut? I'm on a Thai curry kick, and I'm getting a bit tired from the hour-long process required to get fresh coconuts ready to go; my hands are also getting cut to ribbons on the shells. :blink:

The process, in case you're wondering, is roughly as follows. You grate the white coconut meat into twice the volume of warm water, the mass of which you rub together with your hands or blend together in your blender for a couple of minutes. You then strain the mess, and then squeeze out the liquid from the solids with a kitchen towel or cheesecloth.

You're left with three things: the snowy nut meat (which you can toast and use for baking, etc.), the thick white cream, which will rise to the top just like you've heard, and the watery milk which will settle at the bottom. The cream is a good substance in which to saute curry pastes, and the milk can be used to braise, as a thinning liquid, to cook rice, and so on.

So my questions. Any tricks for loosening the meat from the shell? Or peeling the brown skin from the meat? Or, frankly, anything that would make this process move along more quickly and less painfully?

I'll send you whatever I save in band-aids! :raz:

edited for spelling -- ca


Edited by chrisamirault (log)

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You can try one of these.

Or, if you are handy, you can make your own.

You need a small round saw blade, take it to a metal shop or welder and get it cut into segments and get two holds drilled into it.

You then take a board, mark it where the two holes are, allowing the toothy part to extend 3 inches beyond the end of the board. Use two bolts with washers on both sides of the wood and wing nuts to tighten to bolt the blade to the wood.

You cut crack the coconut into halves and work from the inside toward the shell. It goes quite fast, much easier than the method you are using.

There are other types, favored by peoples in Africa but this is the simplest to make.

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Chrisamirault, I don't know if the following is what you need but...

When we lived in the Phillippines we had coconut trees in our backyard. My parents would hire guys to pick them and husk them.

They would then take a hammer and a screwdriver and puncture the eyes to get the liquid.

We would then bake the coconuts in the oven until the brown husks cracked(about 45 min.) Then take the same screwdriver and separate the nut into pieces.

Then they would grate the coconut on a tincan that had holes punched with a nail from the inside out.

The guys grated the coconut by putting their fists inside the can and rubbing the pieces of coconut over the outside. It seemed to be effective, and very inexpensive.

This is the mthod I have used with supermarket coconuts and it works for me.

I hope this has been comprehensible

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Apicio   

chrisamirault,

Here’s how I do it:

1. Punch a hole on coconut to drain water;

2. Bake in a 300 degree oven for around 20 minutes;

3. Place the coconut in a strong garbage or burlap bag, go out on your terrace

and smash it against concrete floor.

4. Pick the meat from the shards of shell;

5. Place in blender or food processor with water, process until completely liquified;

6. Strain and extract with a potato ricer or by wringing in a clean flour sack.

If you want immaculate coconut miilk, the brown skin on the coconut milk has to be peeled off and that is a lot of work. But an even easier way is to pick up packages of frozen coconut milk from asian groceries carrying Filipino foodstuffs. It is not as good as freshly squeezed but much better than the canned. You can toast the squeezed pulp and use it like streusel on puddings and muffins.

Apicio

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irodguy   

I do something similiar to what was already mentioned.

Just use a knife or nail poke out the soft eye and drain

Bake for about 20 minutes

Smash on the round

Then use a normal peeler to get rid of the brown part

Throw in the blender add warm water...

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fifi   

Boy. You guys are really committed. I did this . . . once. Then I did a side by side comparison with Chaudoc canned and couldn't see that it was worth it. Now, if I lived in Hawaii and had a coconut palm in my yard, that might be a different story. I am really suspicious of the quality of the coconuts we get here in the US. I can't tell you how many I have picked up a coconut, and upon shaking, don't hear any sloshing at all. If you can find them with the husks intact, that might be a different matter.

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Chris, you must have a lot of time on your hands. Fresh grated coconut and fresh coconut milk do make a difference, but IMO not to a degree that warrants the effort although it depends on the dish. For Thai curries, I find the canned milk/cream works just fine. If you are making kerisik for Rendang, you pretty much have to go with fresh grated (i.e. see http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...717&hl=rendang)

Back on the Island, my ancestors (my mom would appreciate that reference :wink: ) used a contraption called a "kom-jo" (that's a phonetic spelling, not actual), and it is very similar to the thing Andisenji mentions above. One can get pretty efficient at using one of these to grate coconut. Baking and removing the meat with the brown skin was not acceptable way of making grated coconut and coconut milk so I can't speak to that method. When my grandmother grated coconut and made milk, you'd get scolded for producing nothing less than pure white grated coconut.

Try one of those contraptions, and see if that makes things easier.


Edited by bbq4meanytime (log)

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I have tried to get hold of a friend who is Vietnamese and whose husband made her an electric coconut grater from an electric juicer, the kind with the revolving cone-shaped reamer. She hasn't yet answered my messages but hopefully I can get hold of her in the next couple of days. As I recall, he cut slits into the plastic (or whatever it was made of) reamer and epoxied in short curved blades which may have been serrated, but I can't say for certain.

I have been at her home and watched her (and him) use it but other than it being white with black trim and having a switch to change from low to high speed, I can't remember much else.

As I recall, she said he got the idea from an Indian or Indonesian coconut grater which was apparently hand-cranked and was in the center of a wide, shallow bowl. (It has been a couple of years and my memory isn't what it used to be.)

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One of the doctors here in the office just told me about seeing a cook at the hotel where he stayed in the Yucatan, using a variable-speed battery-powered drill with a hole saw on the end, using that to grate the meat from inside coconuts. He says he had cut the top off with a hacksaw and was working the coconut over the hole saw (the drill was clamped to the table at an angle so the end that he was working on was hanging over a bowl). He not only was going to use the coconut meat, he was also going to use the shells to serve some kind of drink.

Doc remembers that it was about a 2 inch hole saw and the drill was a Black & Decker.

Apparently a lot of people have tried to solve the problem of the coconut not wanting to give up its meat easily.

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Wow.... Thanks for all the tips!

If I don't remove the brown skin before grating, does that skin affect the cream and milk? I realize that it does affect the nut meat after grating, of course.

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Wow.... Thanks for all the tips!

If I don't remove the brown skin before grating, does that skin affect the cream and milk? I realize that it does affect the nut meat after grating, of course.

Chris, according to my mom, her mother was fanatical about her grated coconut and that the brown flecks from the shell do not affect the quality or taste of the milk or cream (other than perhaps aesthetics).

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Tepee   

Wow, this thread made me realize how lucky we are not to have to grate coconut ourselves. We just go to the nearest kedai runcit (grocery store) and they've the machine to do it in a jiffy.

If I don't remove the brown skin before grating, does that skin affect the cream and milk? I realize that it does affect the nut meat after grating, of course.

Indeed the brown skin does not matter if you're going to extract the cream and milk. However, if the coconut is meant to be eaten, for example, in a rendang or coconut candy, then we specify to the grocer to extract only the whites, lest our mouths get scratched by the rough brown bits.

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I would like to see a photo of the machine that they use at the grocery store.

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I would like to see a photo of the machine that they use at the grocery store.

Ditto that!! Tepee, can you oblige?

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If you have a decided brand preference for (1) canned and (2) frozen coconut, can you post what it is? Photos would also be swell....

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Check out this rotary microplane rasp.

I am willing to bet that I can mount the 2-inch one on the end of a drill extension on one of my variable speed drills and convert it to a coconut grater that will work from the inside out.

I have ordered a set and will see if I can make it work when I get them.

I was trying to find a large stone drill bit, the kind with a bunch of big teeth on the end that is shaped sort of like a ball, but they are apparently only available to heavy industry as I couldn't find one on the internet.

Oddly enough I can get one with a diamond tip but don't think it would work on anything as soft as coconut. (My boss's son works for deBeers in the industrial division.)

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Apicio   

andisenji,

The rotary microplane rasp you linked to is cylindrical and far too refined for a mundane task as grating coconut. One touch of the coconut shell can dull its photoengraved teeth. The grater that you need that is available in most Indian, Thai and other South-east Asian stores is a hemispherical head attached to a crank and has a clamp that you can fasten on to your table board just like the meat grinders of old. You cup the half shell of coconut on your left hand, push it against the hemispherical blade and crank the handle with your right hand. Most Thai cookbooks show this in their list of essential kitchen equipment.

But on a more practical note though, I know a fastidious cook here in Toronto who scorns at the use of frozen grated coconut and therefore grates them fresh. He buys them wholesale by the boxfull but finds that one out of five coconuts is rancid and spoiled.

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The Mexican market here in town has very fresh coconut, as well as young coconut still in the husk and occasionally green coconut.

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Oooh! Oooh!

I have the solution, purchased last weekend at the wonderful New Batambang Market here in Providence: a bench coconut grater:

gallery_19804_437_20500.jpg

It's just like the grater that andiesenji recommended above, except you kneel or sit on it (depending how big your keister is -- :huh:) and use your weight as leverage against the coconut shell.

Here's what it looks like in use:

gallery_19804_437_39875.jpg

I had been struggling to get my grating under 30 minutes; with this gadet, I'm down to five minutes max.

I also found frozen meat, too, but honestly, the cream I got from that wasn't nearly as thick or voluminous.

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Pam R   

For some reason I have a coconut on my kitchen counter, staring at me every time I walk by. I've never opened one myself, but was recently told that if you freeze the coconut for a few hours before opening, the flesh will basically pop out. (Theory being that the flesh expands when frozen then shrinks when thawed, pulling away from the shell.)

Has anybody tried this? And should I drain it before freezing or freeze with the water in it?

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djyee100   
Pam, why not buy another and do one each way?

And please tell us your results. I've never heard of this method.

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Pam R   

OK, I'll take one for the team and try to pick another one up this week.

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