Fruits of Liberia: Coconut

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It can’t be all Ebola all the time, now can it?

These are dry coconuts, meaning they’re actually ripe.  While there’s some coconut water in them, you usually go to green coconuts for the water, as well as coconut jelly.  As the coconut ripens, this jelly hardens and turns into the white coconut flesh that you can buy shredded, flaked, or in other forms.  But fresh coconut is unbeatable.

There are lots of different methods for opening a coconut.  I’ll show you the one that works for me.  You’ll want to get a bowl (to catch any coconut water–don’t waste it!) and a chef’s knife.

Hold the coconut in the palm of your hand like so:

IMG_9375You’re going to aim the BACK of your knife (not the blade!) about a third of the way down from the point (which is opposite the eyes) like this:IMG_9377(Sorry, I couldn’t hold the coconut, knife, and camera at the same time.)

Give the coconut a hard thwack.  You may need to hit it a few times, but eventually, a crack will form:IMG_9378 This one took three thwacks.  Rotate the coconut in your hand and continue to hit along where the crack is forming until it comes apart.

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Sometimes, the coconut is less than cooperative, like the second one.  IMG_9380 IMG_9381

First, instead of a nice, straight crack, I got a jagged one.  Then, since this was getting a little old, the shell separated from the flesh, rather than cracking all the way through.  No matter, this one turned into coconut chunks.

You can use a butter knife to pry the coconut out of the shell if you want chunks or flakes.  You could then put the chunks in a food processor and shred.  Or, you can use a coconut shredder:IMG_9382 IMG_9383

Looks dangerous, doesn’t it?  We bought this when we were in Trinidad and Tobago.  It clamps on to the edge of a counter or table, and you hold one half of the coconut against the blades and turn the crank.

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You wind up with shredded, almost powdered, coconut to use in your recipes.

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In Trinidad and Tobago, they make coconut bake.  Think of it like a scone or large biscuit made with freshly shredded coconut in place of some of the butter.  It goes great with squash masala.

You can also use this to make coconut milk.  Steep the coconut in hot water for several minutes, then squeeze it through a cloth.  Repeat at least once, maybe twice.  The resultant liquid is coconut milk, which you can use just like the canned stuff.

This just may have to turn into coconut ice cream, since we’re starting dry season and the sun is getting hot.

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