Monday, February 15, 2010

Bunch of Coconuts

And my locavore readers cringe again.

I buy most of my produce at a small market. The prices just can't be beat.

I do most routine grocery shopping at Walmart. We get 10% off of produce as part of the employee discount, but the prices usually aren't good enough for me to take advantage of that.

Walmart had $0.57 coconuts. I bought two. I have no delusions about them being fresh. I researched coconuts and found that they are shelf-stable for roughly six months. I imagine Walmart was pushing the limits so I processed them immediately.

This is a new experience for me, an adventure that I thought I would share with you. I have eaten raw coconut and had coconut milk, but I had never processed a whole coconut.

There are a lot of methods to open them, but the simplest is to hit around the "equator" of the coconut with the blunt end of a heavy knife. It didn't take long for each coconut to start to crack. When the crack was large enough, I plunged the knife in and wedged it open. I did this over a bowl to catch the coconut water.

I came across a method of removing the meat that pops the meat right out of half the coconut all at once. This carried the risks of bending the knife and severely injuring me via stabbing. Although this would have made for a daring blog post, I opted out.

I cut the meat out in wedges. It came out pretty easily. I had read that this could the the hard part, and it was certainly time consuming, but not difficult. I used a peeler to get the shell remnants off of the meat. After munching on a few chunks with the kids, I froze the meat and will grate it as needed, mostly as an additive to breads or muffins.
I got over a pound, but not quite two, so this worked out to be under $1.00 per pound. We don't usually buy bagged coconut unless it is needed for a specific recipe, but even then I don't like it because it is sugar coated.

I only had a cup of coconut water. We were thinking that it would be yummy plain as a drink, but all the hair and fuzz came off the coconuts while I split and hacked them, so it was kind of murky and we skipped it.

Coconut milk is made pretty easily from the coconut meat, but I thought we would have more fun with the meat than the milk, so we didn't go that route.

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sara said...

I have never bought a cocounut-you keep inspiring me to to try things out of my comfort zone :) Great find!

Susan said...

Emily, I was always taught to put the coconut in the oven for about 20 min at 300F It breaks more easily and the meat comes out much, much easier.
To get the drinkable coconut water, just poke holes in the three 'eyes' and tip the nut over a glass. I used a hammer and a clean naile for this job.
Enjoy your coconot meat. I love to eat just a small portion as a snack.

slk2042 said...

You also could have poured the coconut milk through a cheesecloth or something similar to remove the "fuzz."
Our dog LOVED to play with coconuts (these were outside toys). He was a Pit bull, so he chewed through most other toys like crazy. But the coconut would challenge him for about a week. We just had to be sure and clean up the coconut milk as soon as he got it cracked, or else we'd have ants.

Heather said...

Yum! I haven't had fresh coconut in a long time, but I make look for it next time I'm at the store. Like Susan, I poke holes in the indents and pour out the water. Just make sure you poke more than one hole so it flows faster.

zerohousepaymentforever said...

I have never even tried fresh coconut. Very interesting post. It makes me want to run out and buy one.

Andrea said...

Looks yummy! I am going to have to see if coconuts are on sale near me. I keep wanting to buy coconut flakes, but, like you, I don't want the bags with added sugar. I never think to check on coconut prices because they are usually too expensive. Thanks for the idea!

Our Family Is His said...

We had a fresh coconut once. Hubby had never had one (I had when I was younger) and wanted to try it. He decided we did too much work for such little gain. Hehehehe. We haven't had one since.

frugalredneck said...

First of all it never really dawned on me that coconut (bagged) had added sugar, duh. I want to go get a whole coconut now, I think the kids would think this was amazing and fun!! Thanks for sharing. Michelle

Happily Frugal Mama said...

We make a hole in the coconut first and drain the water into a bowl... you can also filter it through cheesecloth.

We hardly ever use coconut meat but primarily use coconut oil as well as coconut milk and water.


Minn said...

We used to do that when I was growing up. We get the meat out of the shell, grated the meat on cheese grater, cooked it until just warm, mixed with a bit of water, then squeeze to get the coconut milk.

crabcakes said...

Fresh coconut is unbelievable. It doesn't taste anything like the bagged stuff. It's almost more flavored like a rich almond but softer. I haven't had one in a long time.

In a pinch though, whole foods carries shredded dried coconut in a plastic tub that has not been sweetened. I don't recall it being that expensive.


momto9 said...

there is a better way to open a you can actually use the milk! Depending on the type of coconut of course...if this is the kind I'm thinking about then it should have 3 "eyes" on one end. You pierce one and drain out the liquid through a sieve into a wide mouthed jug. gunk in the liquid. proceed to crack it open!

Anonymous said...

The liquid that comes from a ripe coconut is the milk. The liquid from a green, under ripe coconut is called coconut water. It's very healthy w 5 natural electrolytes and a plethora of other health benefits. It looks just like water and tastes (surprisingly so) like water. Very different from coconut milk. This water has actually been given intravenously in under developed countries. You should try some. It's very delicious, albeit expensive. -nicole

Deconstructed Life - Fashion and Beauty from a Gritty City said...

I personally love coconut milk and would drink it right from the coconut after cutting. You should have tried it! You also could have strained it if there were pieces of shell or other things that made you wary.

Anonymous said...

Yum! Be careful, because coconut can be a natural laxative. :) It's delicious in moderation though!

-Heather U.

Anonymous said...

Hi Emily,

I love fresh coconut. Growing up in Miami they were plentiful. I haven't bought one in years. It's funny, I don't like packaged shredded coconut.


JennyWLS said...

I used to do quite a bit of cooking with coconut oil, though I have no idea how the oil came to be in the jar :) It was great though for cookies!

Erin T. said...

Yum! I love coconut! I should buy one too, and I think the kids would get a kick out of opening it.

Our Family Is His said...

We do use coconut oil (specific kind as it's the only oil our younger son can tolerate) for our baking purposes. And, you can use it to moisturize (instructions on each jar - hehehe). It smells so good and is really good for you.

Cee said...

In Chinatown you can buy whole coconuts with a straw stuck inside, to drink all the delicious milk. It's like coconut fast food.

Ria said...

I haven't had fresh coconut in years! Now I'm tempted to see if there are any places around here that have a few coconuts for sale at a decent price, so I can have a bit of a treat!

Rachel said...

One of my earliest memories is watching my grandfather open a coconut on his front porch. I think he drank the milk, but I don't remember that I had any. I love coconut myself, and so does my brother in law. here is the best coconut cake recipe:

1 box yellow cake mix
1 can sweetened condensed milk
container of cool whip
fresh or bagged coconut, about 1 1/2 cups

Prepare cake according to directions. Remove from oven and poke holes all into cake with a fork, pour the sweetened condensed milk all over. Chill thoroughly. Mix the cool whip in a bowl with coconut. Spread over chilled cake.

This is awesome! It is great is the summertime, very refreshing.

Daphne said...

I love fresh coconut, and recently tried fresh BABY coconut (macapuno). That was fun -- it's like coconut jelly! Not exactly frugal, but I got a delicious glass of coconut water and a tasty treat out of it.

Oh, and I second the comment about coconut oil being useful for all sorts of things. I bought a $10 jar of it over a year ago and I use it as a night creme (use VERY lightly, it works great, no breakouts, promise!), as the binder-moisturizer for my homemade deodorant, as a massage lotion, etc. I love the stuff.

Cat J B said...

I haven't seen fresh coconuts where I live, but you've inspired me to keep an eye out for them. I can buy bagged coconut and it's not fact I've never seen any sweetened variety here in Aus, but it does have preservative 220.

Devon said...

Yum Rachel! That sounds great!

Penniless Parenting said...

Emily, I am nominating you for the sunshine award on my blog. Post about it will be up later on today (tuesday). Head over to my blog to accept it.

Anonymous said...

"Making" the milk doesn't yield real coconut milk, the coconut milk was what you threw away because you didn't strain it - not very frugal. Coconut water is incredibly nutritious and comes from green coconuts, not ripe ones as you had.

Anonymous said...

This is similar to the oven trick, but takes less time: Hammer a hole using an awl or screwdriver into the soft spot and drain the milk. Put the coconut on the stovetop (or any hot surface -- the crockpot on high might work?) for a few minutes until it cracks (you'll hear a pop). Then you can hammer it open and the meat literally falls out.


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