Coconut Meat – Why, Where & How
Coconut meat is one of those ingredients you can go through life without ever trying. It’s not the most accessible, it’s hidden in a pricey encasing and it does not have the most intuitive use. If you’re not in the habit of breaking open young thai coconuts, then you have never been exposed to their incredible treasure.
Why Eat Coconut Meat
All of this meat came from one awesome coconut – healthy, white coconut meat
Upon first sight, coconut meat is very weird – it’s usually translucent and slimy. Some coconuts have nearly mature meat while others are like sea anemones. Some are beautifully white and smell like heavenly coconut while others are pink and smell off.
Side note: Prior to my smoothie journey, I hated coconut, especially dried coconut shreds. But really, anything that tasted like coconut made me want to gag. Growing up, I told the parents of my friends that I was allergic so they would stop trying to force me to try their coconut-laced food. My conversion to coconut lover was 100% a result of the coconutty smoothie. I’m now quite open minded when it comes to coconut and I make a coconutty at least once a week.
Nutritionally speaking, coconut meat is pretty awesome. According to Eating Well, a 2×2 inch piece has ~7 carbs, 4 grams of fiber & 15 grams of fat. The fat is definitely on the high side, but because I have a difficult time finding natural sources of good fat (aside from avocado and olive oil), I have no problem with this figure. Its mineral levels of iron, phosphorous and zinc are high. It is also a potent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal (and therefore a great cleanser of our guts) & is believe to boost thyroid function by up to 20%. You can check out more details here.
Where to find coconut meat
Young thai coconuts are white and slightly squishy.
Coconut meat is found inside a coconut, so you have to find young thai coconuts. If you watched our first review of the Coco-Tango, then you are already aware that we did not initially know the difference between a young and mature coconut. So, if you’re in the same boat, don’t feel bad!
A young coconut is white, kind of moist, slightly squishy and wrapped in plastic. A mature coconut is brown, hairy and HARD. You can usually find young coconuts at health food stores, Wholefoods and Asian markets. If you have none of those options and are prepared to pay a bit more, you can even purchase them online at Amazon. If you live on the east coast, get used to being occasionally disappointed. Because we are far from Thailand, stores do not usually have a lot of coconuts on hand. They have already been off the tree for a long time before they hit stores, so merchants are reluctant to stock an abundance of them.
Be wary of iffy looking coconuts. These might be bruised looking, dented, moldy and possibly smelly. Be sure there are no cracks where fungus can work its way inside.
Pink Coconut Meat & Water
Pink Coconut Meat
There is some controversy regarding whether or not to eat pink coconut meat. You may hack open a coconut that looks fine and discover pink coconut meat and pink coconut water. Some sources believe the change in color is a result of contamination from the fungicide they are dipped in prior to shipment (Source: Personal Communication with Coconut Exporter). Others say that the color is attributable to natural phenols and normal variation. I haven’t read any cases of people becoming sick from eating pink coconut meat.
I’ve tasted pink coconut meat and pink water and I didn’t get sick. I’ve also thrown out pink meat and water when it looked too gnarly to be edible. Every coconut is different! Read more about variation in yield and color here.
Coconut Meat Comparison – click to enlarge
How to use coconut meat
My favorite coconut de-meater, found at Generationthrive.com
There are so many yummy ways to eat coconut meat! You can make soups or curries, raw breads, dry shredded flakes for desserts, coconut-infused rice, fresh coconut milk and of course, SMOOTHIES!
For a big list of coconut meat recipes with beautiful pictures, check out this website.
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