Purchasing and Storing A Coconut
MATURE COCONUT: Most coconuts reach market with the outer fibrous husk
removed, a practice that shortens their shelf life but makes them easier
to open. Start the selection process by lifting and shaking the coconut
to make sure it is heavy with plenty of water inside.
Carefully inspect the outer shell and the eyes to make sure there are no
cracks or punctures. A damaged coconut will rot quickly once air reaches
the inside of the nut. Examine the three eyes to be sure there is no
mold forming there.
If the coconut seems too light and you cannot hear water inside when you
shake it, the nut may have a thin crack, has lost a great deal of its
water, and may have begun to mold. The ideal coconut has plenty of
liquid. You can feel its weight and hear it swoosh when you give the
coconut a good shake.
A fully mature coconut will be dark brown in color. Those with a lighter
brown have not yet reached their full ripeness but will still taste
quite good. Coconut milk pressed from the lighter colored coconuts will
not be as thick and creamy as the darker coconuts, but can lend itself
to tasty soups and curries.
A mature coconut, unopened, can be stored at room temperature for about
three or four months. Once opened, fresh coconut can be stored in the
refrigerator in a plastic bag for only a few days. Freeze the coconut
for longer storage.
A medium-sized coconut will contain about 1 cup of coconut juice. When
grated, the coconut will yield about 3 to 4 cups of nutmeat .
YOUNG COCONUT: Young coconuts are sold still in the husk. You can
recognize a young coconut by its pale, almost ivory color and by its
conical shape at the top. Look for these in the refrigerated section or
produce section of some health food and Asian markets. If you're
surprised at how heavy they are, try pouring the coconut juice into a
measuring cup--just make sure it's a large measuring cup.
Young coconuts are valued for their juice, but the coconut meat inside,
which is often sweeter than that of the mature coconut, is completely
edible and has a softer, more delicate consistency than a mature
coconut. The very young coconut meat is almost jelly-like and can be
eaten with a spoon.
Store young coconuts in the refrigerator.
DRIED COCONUT: Coconut comes in dried forms as well as fresh.
Most chain supermarkets have the sweetened variety only. Look for the
unsweetened grated or shredded coconut meat in a health food market or
Asian market. Both forms may also be found in the freezer in Asian
groceries. Dried coconut can keep at room temperature for several months
if sealed in plastic bags.
COCONUT MILK: Canned coconut milk is available in most grocery
stores; however, Asian markets offer several brands from which to
choose. Notice that the total fat content can vary considerably from 2
grams to 17 grams. The cans with 2 grams of fat will be quite watery and
taste diluted. For good flavor, choose a coconut milk with 8 to 9 grams
of fat for its excellent consistency and richness in taste. Those with
the highest fat are actually coconut cream from the first pressing that
offers a thicker and creamier liquid. Once opened, canned coconut milk
must be stored in the refrigerator and will keep only a few days.
Vitamin Filled Coconut Water
COCONUT OIL: Purchase only extra virgin coconut oil available in
health food markets. Though it may be more expensive than the refined
oil, its health benefits far outweigh the extra expense. The refined
coconut oil is hydrogenated during processing, while the extra virgin
coconut oil contains no trans-fatty acids.
SUPRISE YOU FRIENDS: MAKE A COOKYCOCONUTS BEER MUG!!!