How to Select Fresh Coconuts | How to Recipes

Last Updated on November 2, 2020 by marvz

The best quality check is taking off the husk and breaking the shell open right on the spot. The coconut is good if it has white meat, free from foul odor and discoloration.

I have several coconut trees. They are too tall for me to climb. Using a bamboo pole is hard either. I am letting them naturally fall and gather them in one place for later.

For my own use, I have a few criteria for choosing the right candidate. I’m also including a few recipes for you to try.

How to choose fresh coconut?

Consider the following pointers when choosing coconuts.

1. A clean and dry coconut

The husk surface should be clean and relatively dry. Wet husk, which encourages embryonic growth, is common only in the rainy season and rarely occurs in summer months.

You should not worry about wet husk during dry spells. On the other hand, tattered and dirty appearance are signs of old fruit and therefore degraded quality.

the rotten coconut with erratic coloration
Bad coconut with reddish discoloration.

2. No shoot and no roots

There should be no signs of embryonic growth such as roots and shoot. Why? As soon as the embryo starts to grow, it consumes the nutrients from the water and meat.

The more it grows, the more nutrients it gets, affecting the meat and water quality in a bad way. Whenever I see shoots coming out, I break the nut open and give it to ducks and chickens.

3. There should be water inside

When shaken, bouncing water should be evident. If not, it could be completely dried out due to hot weather. Or, the coconut pearl growth reached the meat layer. Either way, the coconut is deemed unfit.

Coconut losses water toward maturity. Evaporation is one of the reasons which may worsen with the hot season. When it happens, the water can dry out completely.

The meat can be brownish with a mild rancid odor. It may have mold growth of various colors. It may not show any signs of deterioration but I am not taking chances.

There are instances when the shoot is barely visible but the pearl inside had already reached the meat layer. Or, the pearl growth stopped midway due to rot.

Fresh coconut, with white meat and nice smell

4. How to choose fresh coconuts at the public market

You may get grated coconuts from the nearest public market, which is the only option for many. If the merchant permits, choose husked nuts with a brown appearance.

The pale color indicates a lack of maturity which may not fit your purpose. Reject nuts with doubtful meat appearance and smell. You have the right to be picky. You can always go to the next store if the current show an untoward manner.

How farmers harvest their coconuts?

The harvester will get only mature nuts. However, the term mature is broader than what you might have thought. Green to yellowish are also included.

Do color differences matter in terms of taste quality? They do! You may experiment with the pale and brown colored coconuts and see which performs better.

How to recipes

1. How to extract coconut milk

What’s the ratio of water to grated coconut?

When it comes to extracting coconut milk. It’s not about the ratio of water to grated coconut. It’s about how many coconuts a specific dish needs.

Ginataang tulingan for example, I may decide to use 3 coconuts. I can extract the grated coconut once, twice, or thrice. It doesn’t matter. But, it will take a long time to evaporate the excess water. Worst case, the food I’m cooking will become overcooked.

For the kakang gata – the first concentrated extract

  1. Use 1:1 grated coconut to water ratio as a guide.
  2. Pour lukewarm water into the grated coconut.
  3. Rest the mixture for five minutes.
  4. Mix and mash with hands.
  5. By small batches, squeeze in between hands.  
  6. Then filter off the excess meat and set aside.

For the second extraction, repeat the process

For your dish, use the kakang gata or use both first and second extracts.

2. How to make latik – coconut milk curd

Coconut milk curd or latik is a great topping for Filipino native rice dishes – kakanin such as kalamay and sapin-sapin.

Latik has a shelf life of one month. Extend it by keeping in an airtight container.

To make latik – coconut milk curds:

  1. Get fresh coconut milk from quality coconuts.
  2. Prefer machine extraction over traditional. Less water allows you to cook it faster.
  3. Get a wide pan. The wider surface area allows faster evaporation.
  4. Cook over low heat.
  5. Stir continuously and moderately.
  6. Continue cooking until the curds form and become golden brown.
  7. Drain the oil. Save it for other purposes.

Cooking over low heat may take 45 minutes or longer depending on coconut milk volume.

You may turn the heat higher at the beginning. Then turn it low towards the end to avoid burnt latik.

3. How to make homemade desiccated/dried coconut

Great for cookies, desserts, and puddings.

Getting fresh coconut meat is the best, but you may also use the left-over meat after milk extraction.

To make desiccated/dried coconuts

  1. Get fresh coconuts.
  2. Break into halves
  3. Tap the shell repeatedly to remove the meat.
  4. Scrape off the meat outer brown covering.
  5. Grate
  6. Dry under the sun or dry in the oven.
  7. Low-heat pan-roasting also works as a drying method.

Drying is a race between time and rancidity. You have to do it fast. Then store in an airtight container.

4. How to make bukayo

Bukayo was one of my childhood favorites. It’s made of young coconut, instead of mature meat.

Gather the 3 ingredients, ratio of 1:1:1.

  1. The pure coconut milk extract. Machine pressed.
  2. Shredded young coconut meat. The maturity that’s suitable for salad making.
  3. Brown sugar.

Follow the steps:

  1. In a pan, heat the extract over medium heat.
  2. Melt the brown sugar.
  3. Continue heating until it begins to thicken.
  4. Add the young coconut milk and stir continually. Be gentle to avoid damaging the coconut strands.
  5. Continue until all the water has evaporated.

Divide into bite-size pieces. Wrap. Pack.

Common questions and answers about coconut

I’ve listed a few questions about coconut. Feel free to ask if you have more questions.

1. What is the shelf life of coconut milk?

It won’t last long. Extracted coconut milk tonight will have a separation of oil and water by morning.

Refrigeration is not feasible. Freezing can keep it longer but there will be changes in taste and texture.

2. What is the shelf life of coconut meat? 

For about 5 days. Yet, spoilage starts the moment you open the coconut. So, keep it intact until the moment you need it.

3. What is the shelf life of a whole coconut?

Whole coconut without husk. You can keep it at room temperature for a week. About 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. And up to 8 months in the freezer.

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