Information about Coconuts plus Coconut Recipes
Ingredient of the
down for coconut recipes
here for previous Ingredients of the Month
(Cocos nucifera) belongs to the Palm family Arecaceae and is found growing
around the world in lowland, tropical and subtropical habitats. Classed as a
it is actually a one-seeded drupe. What we buy in shops is the "stone" of this drupe,
consisting of a hard shell (the endocarp) which encloses the seed.
Origin and History
origin of Coconuts is much disputed to this day. We know the plant flourishes
best on coastlines, and a more
recent theory is that it originated in the East Pacific (Polynesia),
but coconuts float extremely well due to their structure -
a very thick and light shell which protects the seed from salt water (a
killer to most other seeds) and an internal cavity adding to its buoyancy.
the fact that the embryo remains vital for up to 8 months in cool sea water,
plus natural occurrences such as storms, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions
etc., and it's easy to see how they
could have travelled to/from almost anywhere with a warm climate at any time in
were widely grown and used on the western coast of Central America by the time
Columbus got there and the Sallier Papyrus states that a species of coconut palm
existed in Egypt in the 14th century BC ! Today
palms are found growing in parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and
just a mystery waiting to be solved.
and Processing Coconuts
growth requires a minimum average temperature of 22C/72F and an annual rainfall
of 100cm/40 inches or more. The nuts are placed on their sides and buried to
about half their thickness with sand or mulch. They can be planted directly into
large pots or quite closely together in a seed bed. Germination is best under
high temperatures ( 35C/95F).
trees can reach a height of 3.3m/100 feet. The coconut palm starts fruiting 6 to 10 years
after germination continues to fruit until it is about 80 years old with an
annual production of 50 to 200 fruits per tree, depending on cultivar and
coconut meat (the white part) is steeped in hot water until it is cool enough to
handle. It is then squeezed until dry. The liquid is strained to remove all the
pulp and allowed to sit for a while, the coconut cream rises to the top.
milk is not the juice found inside a coconut, but a further derivative from the
cream process. Hot water is added to the pulp which was left over and the above
process is repeated producing a lighter liquid i.e. coconut milk.
average mature coconut yields about 240ml/8fl.oz. of coconut cream and
360ml/12fl.oz. of coconut milk however as making fresh coconut milk/cream from
scratch is time consuming, most of us will use tinned or block milk/cream.
or Shredded coconut
is a commercial process where the flesh is dried and packaged.
is available sweetened or unsweetened, shredded or flaked, dried
(desiccated) or moist.
is formulated coconut milk which is then
Coconut in Cooking