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Ducksredux

Coconuts

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Howdy!

I have some general coconut questions concerning picking out and opening a coconut.

Does Indian food usually/aways use brown coconuts, or sometimes green or does it not matter?

Is there any way to tell before you buy it if the coconut is rotten, or do you just have to open it and taste the water? I look for uncracked heavy coconuts that you can hear the swishing of the water inside, but this has been fallible.

Julei Sahni says cracking a coconut using the back of a knife or cleaver is dangerous. She recommends piercing the eyes, baking it for half an hour, wrapping it in a towel, whacking it and then whacking it some more. I've tried it both ways and much prefer whacking it with the back of a knife to baking it. Why is this unsafe? What body part of mine am I endangering? Should I be wearing goggles? A gauntlet? Chain mail? Buying life insurance?

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I am sure these questions have been covered in a previous thread that I cannot locate just now.

For recipes that require coconut milk or fresh grated coconut meat, you need mature coconut. That is the unhusked brown shell coconut that are usually shrinked wrapped you find in most of North America. Choose the ones that you can hear are still full of water, the ones without any sign of seepage or any visible cracks or get them in busy Asian markets that presumably sell them quickly enough to minimise the chances of spoilage.

For recipes that ask for young coconut for pie or fresh fruit salad you need young coconut which are usually green if the husk has not been trimmed off and white if the husk has been partially thinned. Getting fresh ones of these is even harder than getting ones of the unspoiled mature coconuts. I just use the canned ones from Thailand.

Last Thursday, I needed grated coconut for a Brazilian dessert that I am trying to duplicate at home so I picked up two of them. As it turned out only one was good to use. I punched a hole on it with an ice-pick and drained the water with a straw. Baked it for twenty minutes in a hot oven and when I took it out, the shell has cracked along the equator in four spots that I did not have to whack it at all. I just peeled of the hard shell, peeled off the brown skin with a potato peeler and grated it on a medium cheese grater. Beautiful long white strands.

So I think baking the coconut makes an easy job of cracking the shell and making the coconut meat dislodge itself from the shell. No mess either.

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Hi,

It would be safe to assume that when a recipe calls for coconut, it means brown. Green coconut, if used at all, might be called tender coconut. Generally green coconuts are used as a beverage - their tops are lopped off and the water inside them drunk through a straw. After you're done, the seller will split open the coconut to enable you to eat the very tender meat inside.

If there is no mould on the outside, the coconut feels heavy for its size and you can hear plenty of liquid inside, you have a good chance of finding an unspoiled one. I also prefer those that have their 'eyes' hidden under a tuft of husk - it is said that these ones tend to be fresher than those without - I haven't questioned the reasoning behind it, though. I guess I just follow ancient wisdom.

I just break open the coconut with a cleaver, but you do need to be very careful while doing this - keep your face averted.

Hope this helps

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Howdy!

I have some general coconut questions concerning picking out and opening a coconut.

Does Indian food usually/aways use brown coconuts, or sometimes green or does it not matter?

Is there any way to tell before you buy it if the coconut is rotten, or do you just have to open it and taste the water?  I look for uncracked heavy coconuts that you can hear the swishing of the water inside, but this has been fallible.

Julei Sahni says cracking a coconut using the back of a knife or cleaver is dangerous. She recommends piercing the eyes, baking it for half an hour, wrapping it in a towel, whacking it and then whacking it some more.  I've tried it both ways and much prefer whacking it with the back of a knife to baking it.  Why is this unsafe?  What body part of mine am I endangering?  Should I be wearing goggles? A gauntlet? Chain mail? Buying life insurance?

Perhaps these past threads, albeit small ones, can help you out?

How to open a coconut?, Help this first-time take a whack at it

How Do you Tell if A Coconut Is Fresh?

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ah, forgot to check the archives, thanks. I'll avoid the green ones. I'd love to get one of those crazy coconut graters but my wife would call it the stupidest purchase since the ravioli maker. Maybe I can buy it without her knowing.

I used a face shield tonight while opening a coconut. Worked alright and didn't lose an eye, although I did cut my hand grabbing a falling knife. The reason I stopped baking the coconut was that it seemed that the coconut was getting cooked and losing some flavor. Is that crazy?

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Not crazy. I also tried the baking method a couple of times and found that the coconut tasted too cooked for me.

I just wack it with a hammer after I've drained out the water. Don't see the need for bringing sharp knives into the picture (partly this is because I am a most unco-ordinated person likely to sink the cleaver into my forehead were I to use the back of a cleaver :biggrin: ). Joking aside, though, I have used both hammers and cleavers in the past, and simply find the hammer to be the more appropriate tool.

Hah, my husband doesn't even know that I have a ravioli maker (and I certainly won't mention the recently purchased puttu steamer!) Such information is sometimes better kept to oneself.

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(and I certainly won't mention the recently purchased puttu steamer!)

On a tangent, what is a "puttu steamer"?

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After draining the water, I just take my coconuts outside in the back

and whack them hard against the corner of the brick wall.

Breaks them neatly apart.

I already wear glasses, and no sliced fingers.

Then I wrap and freeze the pieces.

When needed, I thaw small pieces and grate in the mixie.

Milagai

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it was either a ravioli maker attachment for the kitchenaid stand mixer or a beautiful saute pan with the $100 Williams Sonoma gift certificate we got as a wedding present. I kept saying "but kids LOVE Ravioli." So far we've used it once cause our baby is too young to love it yet. She loves my dal though!

Not crazy. I also tried the baking method a couple of times and found that the coconut tasted too cooked for me.

I just wack it with a hammer after I've drained out the water. Don't see the need for bringing sharp knives into the picture (partly this is because I am a most unco-ordinated person likely to sink the cleaver into my forehead were I to use the back of a cleaver  :biggrin: ). Joking aside, though, I have used both hammers and cleavers in the past, and simply find the hammer to be the more appropriate tool.

Hah, my husband doesn't even know that I have a ravioli maker (and I certainly won't mention the recently purchased puttu steamer!) Such information is sometimes better kept to oneself.

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so I've gone to three different Indian groceries in Philadelphia, including a mega-one, and can't find a coconut grater. Ideally I'd find sometjing like this

Coconut grater

Anyone know where I might find this?

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I've only ever used mature coconuts before but decided to buy a young coconut at the market just to try it out.

This was what I was expecting...

young coconut 2.jpg

And this is what I got...

young coconut 1.jpg

Before I split it open, I drained the milk, and that was okay. However, look at that flesh, and it tasted much worse than it looks. :blink:

Rhonda

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Before I split it open, I drained the milk, and that was okay. However, look at that flesh, and it tasted much worse than it looks.

Young coconuts and mature coconuts are kinda like different animals. In Thailand we drank the juice from young coconuts, but pretty much ignored the soft, bland, gelatinous flesh. Street vendors punch a hole in the young coconut, stuff in a straw, and one sips the liquid for a snack.

Another EGulleter started this thread about young coconuts, and got some ideas about what to cook with them. I suggested adding the young coconut flesh to a coconut sorbet, something I've tried and liked.

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Before I split it open, I drained the milk, and that was okay. However, look at that flesh, and it tasted much worse than it looks.

Young coconuts and mature coconuts are kinda like different animals. In Thailand we drank the juice from young coconuts, but pretty much ignored the soft, bland, gelatinous flesh. Street vendors punch a hole in the young coconut, stuff in a straw, and one sips the liquid for a snack.

Another EGulleter started this thread about young coconuts, and got some ideas about what to cook with them. I suggested adding the young coconut flesh to a coconut sorbet, something I've tried and liked.

Rhonda: your coconut looks lovely. What was wrong with it? Was it spoiled or was it merely not what you are familiar with?

Your picture of what you were expecting was a more mature coconut. What you got was a young coconut.

Depending on how young the coconut is, the 'jelly' is more or less watery; more or less firm. The mature coconut has hard and firm 'meat'. The taste and treatment of both are different.

The tender coconut jelly is always delicious, mild, sweetish. Eaten plain usually. Expect the texture of 'jello' or oysters.

Mature coconut: well, you know. Too many uses to list.

Djyee: in tender-coconut-selling/eating cultures, street vendors will hack open the coconut after you have drunk the coconut water and you scrape out the 'jelly' from the inside and eat it. Do they not do this in Thailand: do you mean the tender insides are just thrown away? :blink:

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Djyee: in tender-coconut-selling/eating cultures, street vendors will hack open the coconut after you have drunk the coconut water and you scrape out the 'jelly' from the inside and eat it. Do they not do this in Thailand: do you mean the tender insides are just thrown away? :blink:

No, in Thailand people have the option of eating the soft flesh. The coconut is cracked open enough that you can scoop out the gelatinous insides. I and others in my group didn't particularly care to eat it. Too bland for me. Besides, we were so stuffed with other street snacks that we were never that hungry.

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I'm not a big fan of coconuts, though I love the canned coconut milk, go figure.

But that aside, I just saw all kinds of shredded and cut frozen coconut in a new Asian market here (Seafood City). They had mature and young, and in different kinds of cuts/shreds. That might be something to consider? I sure don't like opening them and trying to pry the meat from the shell, I'd rather not have them at all. Occasionally the kids convince me to do it, then they eat 3 pieces and eventually I have to throw the rest out....

I did get a young one once and too found the meat to be very bland and very strange in texture. Like I'd imagine a slug to feel in my mouth - which would probably taste better, LOL.

Anyway, thought I'd mention the frozen ones, as I'd never seen them. I might get that for coconut macaroons I make at x-mas, the shredded stuff in the baking section here has way too much sugar and who knows what in it.

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I'm not a big fan of coconuts, though I love the canned coconut milk, go figure.

But that aside, I just saw all kinds of shredded and cut frozen coconut in a new Asian market here (Seafood City). They had mature and young, and in different kinds of cuts/shreds. That might be something to consider? I sure don't like opening them and trying to pry the meat from the shell, I'd rather not have them at all. Occasionally the kids convince me to do it, then they eat 3 pieces and eventually I have to throw the rest out....

I did get a young one once and too found the meat to be very bland and very strange in texture. Like I'd imagine a slug to feel in my mouth - which would probably taste better, LOL.

Anyway, thought I'd mention the frozen ones, as I'd never seen them. I might get that for coconut macaroons I make at x-mas, the shredded stuff in the baking section here has way too much sugar and who knows what in it.

Not sure why I feel compelled to defend the honour of coconuts, :smile: but here goes.

1. Why throw out coconuts after the kids eat three pieces? Freeze the rest until your next recipe.

2. As you say, the pre-shredded sweetened kind in 'regular' supermarkets has way too much sugar etc. So thaw out your frozen coconut, dry it gently in the oven (makes hacking out pieces much easier) then grate the pieces (in food processor) and there you go.

3. Re your crack about tender coconuts vs imaginary slugs: have you eaten snails or oysters? People seem willing to pay lots of money to eat snails and oysters, so why take issue with tender coconuts, which seemingly have similar texture / appearance?

5. Related question: why do people not eat slugs? How are they (culinarily) different from snails?


Edited by Milagai (log)

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Anyway, thought I'd mention the frozen ones, as I'd never seen them. I might get that for coconut macaroons I make at x-mas, the shredded stuff in the baking section here has way too much sugar and who knows what in it.

Fresh mature coconut meat is a great flavor in some Indian and SE Asian dishes. Freshly grated coconut also makes a good addition to homemade chocolate ice cream, or other desserts. Well-wrapped, the coconut pieces will last a few months in the freezer. Just let it thaw, then grate it before you use it.

That said, I wouldn't use fresh coconut in a typical macaroon recipe. The fresh coconut has a less intense flavor than dried coconut, and the extra moisture in it will probably throw off the recipe. If you're looking for unsweetened dried coconut, try the bulk dept at Whole Foods.

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I recently had the opportunity to take a green coconut straight from the tree and peel it myself (oh the looks I got with that machete in my hand).

I cracked it open and drank the juice, then bashed it in half and ate the meat out of it. It ended up being a lot more mature than I expected, since the meat was hard.

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Rhonda: your coconut looks lovely. What was wrong with it? Was it spoiled or was it merely not what you are familiar with?

Your picture of what you were expecting was a more mature coconut. What you got was a young coconut.

Depending on how young the coconut is, the 'jelly' is more or less watery; more or less firm. The mature coconut has hard and firm 'meat'. The taste and treatment of both are different.

It tasted a little off like maybe it was spoiled a little bit. It also had a pinkish hue so I'm not sure if they all have that hue or if for whatever reason this one was just spoiled a bit. It was awhile back, but I remember shaking a bit when I swallowed it, and I was trying hard to like it.

Rhonda

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oh, no need to defend the coconut! I'll have to try that roast in oven first someday, the last couple I bought the meat was almost impossible to get out of the shell. I guess I could freeze what the kids don't eat, but I'm afraid it would end up in that nebulous dark area way back in the freezer, where the mystery packages reside ;-)

Great idea with the bulk bins at Whole Food! I'll have to check that out, as cookie baking time is coming up quickly.

I do love oysters and snails, but found the baby coconut meat to be a bit odd. Not very much of a nut feeling. More something squishy with not all that much taste.

Why slugs are not eaten I have no idea. Maybe they just don't taste good?

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