Young Coconut
A young coconut being freshly cut in Thailand. (Photo Credit: Jana Teneva)

Coconuts are famous for their flavourful white meat and nutritious coconut water. If you want sweet coconut water and gel-like coconut meat, go for a young coconut. As a coconut ages, the water loses its sugar content and is absorbed as the coconut meat grows firmer and thicker.

In Thailand, coconuts are harvested from the trees when they are still young and green. After husking, the shell is white and quickly turns brown. In most health food stores or Asian grocery stores, you’ll see cone head coconuts that remain white as they have been treated in chemicals, wrapped in plastic, and then exported overseas. A good young coconut feels heavy. When you shake it, you can hear the coconut water slosh around. The younger the coconut, the more coconut water is inside the husk.

Tips for Eating Young Coconut:

  1. Choose a big, heavy knife. A chef knife or butcher knife can do the job well.
  2. Cover your kitchen counter with a towel and place the coconut on its side.
  3. Cut away the husk off the top of the coconut to expose the shell underneath that is slightly brown.
  4. Cut out a circle around the top of the coconut by whacking at it with the bottom edge of your knife a few times, or just once if you’re really good. (Tip: Keep the circle small to avoid an explosion of coconut water, but big enough so you can stick a metal spoon in there to scoop out all the goodies).
  5. Use the back end of your knife or your fingers to pry the top open.
  6. Now stick a straw and a long metal spoon in it, and enjoy!

Did you know?

  • There has been an explosion in demand for fresh coconut water, as it is low in sugar and calories and it is great as a refreshing drink.
  • If you are seriously dehydrated or injured on an exotic, remote island, you can use the water of young coconuts as transfusions as it is supposed to be sterile.
  • The meat of a young coconut can be eaten as is, or shredded and mixed with the coconut water for extra texture.
  • After draining the young coconut, its husk is an exotic, nature-made container for a cocktail, smoothie, or even soup. You may want to try these coconut water cocktails, or a classic Thai soup.

Here’s a video from Chef Joy Houston of the Delicious Revolution to show you how to open a young coconut while keeping all your ten fingers:

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About Anna de Waard-Leung

Anna loves her heels, wine, and food - in that exact order. Her latest food addictions include Shiraz Mourvèdre, chicken tikka masala, sushi, and ossenworst (a raw beef sausage originating in Amsterdam).

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