At Respect Food we’re all about getting the most out of our ingredients, and if there’s one fruit with limitless possibilities, it’s a coconut. Considering that the coconut is one of the most versatile foods, it’s generally only used it for a single recipe when bought.
To celebrate World Coconut day, here are some simple and delicious ways to enjoy every part of this delectable drupe.
1. Coconut water
Coconut water is the go-to drink for yogis and in recent years has taken the rest of the world by storm due to its array of health benefits, for example, the wealth of natural electrolytes that help keep you hydrated. When it’s fresh, there is nothing better – try keeping it tropical by mixing with mango, or give the classic combo of strawberry and banana a fresh twist. Coconut water is also an excellent addition to many savoury recipes – add it to a marinade for fish or meat, or use it to lighten up a curry.
When storing coconut water, it’s worth keeping in mind that it spoils quickly. Keep it in an airtight container and chill it in the freezer for 30 minutes before transferring to the fridge -this should keep it fresh for a week. You can also freeze it in ice cube trays, so it’s ready to go straight into a smoothie (or a particularly classy white wine sangria.).
The flesh of the coconut is extremely nutritious, even if separating it from the shell can be a fiddly job. Try gouging the meat from the shell with a butter knife, to break off larger pieces in one go. Once you’ve freed the flesh, you can scrape off any rouge bits of brown skin with a vegetable peeler.
There are numerous ways you can use this magical coconut meat – throw it into a blender and puree to make an ingredient you can use in anything from cakes, to curries, add a little lemon juice to make coconut yoghurt, or blend with water and strain through a muslin cloth for homemade coconut milk (and try it in one of these fresh recipes, link). If you’re craving a sweet treat, try whipping up a simple and spectacular coconut burfi.
The coconut can be a tough nut to crack, using a screwdriver or corkscrew to make three holes at one end, drain the water out (saving it, of course) and wrap in a towel. Afterwards, use a hammer to tap around it’s ‘equator’ until it opens. You can also use a handsaw for more precision.
Once you have cracked your coconut precisely and have a neatly halved shell, hang on to it for an easy and elegant craft project. You can sand the coconut down to make a beautiful cup for tropical cocktails, they also make lovely candle holders: either pour in candle wax or drill decorative holes to show off flickering tea lights. Try adding some seed mix to an emptied shell and hanging outside for a rustic bird feeder, or adding soil and seeds for an easy planter. If some of the shell pieces look less than perfect after you’ve cracked open the coconut, then try tying them together for a child-friendly percussion instrument, or sanding them down for unique pendants.
‘Coir’ or coconut fibre is a natural material used in everything from doormats to ropes to furniture to charcoal tooth whiteners. Try saving and storing this somewhere dry, so you can use as a fire starter for your next BBQ.