Since ancient times, entire cultures have thrived on the entire coconut tree for medicine, cooking, cosmetics and even housing. Nearly every part of the plant can be used for survival. Modern science will continue to pursue the value of coconuts but time has already proved that human ingenuity when applied to the entire plant reveals that it can help us sustain a more environmentally friendly way of life as well.
This article will explore how easy it is to open a young coconut to enjoy it as a healthy and exotic treat.
Some interesting facts about coconuts:
Due to it's same “electrolytic balance as human blood,” it was used as an IV drip during WWII when solutions were scarce.
The clear water found in young coconut is rich in minerals such as potassium and manganese.
The fats in coconut oil are similar to those found in mother's milk and according to Jon J. Kabara, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus from Michigan State University, have “similar nutriceutical effects.”
During my many trips to Thailand I always watched with both fascination and anxiety as the light green outer husk of coconut is peeled off to reveal the stringy white fibrous layer. After removing the fibers, the top of the nut was removed with a large knife which would be brought down on the “skull” of the nut expertly and accurately while it was still being held. If you ever become an expert at the more traditional method then I'm sure you can thrill your guests at a tropical theme party.
If you aren't a thrill seeker then you may prefer a more safe way of opening a coconut.
Asian and Latino/Hispanic markets usually carry nuts which are only covered with the white husk and usually plastic wrapped. Pick clean undamaged husks. Do not worry about the cleanliness of the sweet water inside the nut because the layers of outer skin provide a natural and safe barrier. In fact during times of flooding, storms, famine or war these nuts saved people's lives because they were the only source of clean water.
Remove the plastic wrap and set the nut on its side on a layer of newspapers or a cutting board and use a sharp cleaver to carefully remove the husk at the top. Remove enough of the husk to see the entire top of the brown skull. Then bring down the corner of the knife along half the perimeter of the top. Do not raise the knife very high or use too much force as it is both dangerous and unnecessary. The brown layer encasing the water and flesh is actually very thin and sometimes tapping it with the corner of the knife is adequate. Use your fingers to pry open the top of the nut carefully and you are done!
This video also explains the process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPvhxeg_PUA
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