Thursday, June 21, 2012

Crack that Coconut!

Several weeks ago I purchased the tropical fruit package from Bountiful Baskets and included was a coconut. My first reaction upon seeing it was, "what the heck am I supposed to do with that!?!" I had never worked with a real coconut before, just the bagged shredded coconut you get in the supermarket. So on the counter it sat, watching me, staring at me, mocking me.

Occasionally I picked it up, walked over to the trash can, but no, I didn't throw it out. I refused to be beaten by a mere coconut. I would shake it and hear the liquid inside; that's a good sign that shows that the coconut "meat" is still fresh and moist. Then I decided to do the insanest thing possible; I gave it to my dog to play with. He loved tossing and chasing it around the yard, but then I noticed that he had stopped and was licking it profusely. He had cracked it and lapped up the leaking liquid.

The coconut was small and I didn't give much thought to cracking it open and trying to do something with the liquid myself. Remember, I was looking at it as a protagonist; an enemy that needed to be conquered. Yes, I could have gotten a hammer, cracked it open in a proper way, etc, etc, etc. What fun would that be? Anyway, I grabbed the coconut, took it out to the driveway and let it drop and split open completely it did. The outdoor cats enjoyed the treat of the spilled coconut liquid and I felt good spoiling them a bit.

Right, so what do I do now? Finally went on the internet and looked up how to handle a coconut. I gave the two parts a good wash in water to remove any dirt. Now most sites said to roast the coconut between 400F to 450F, so I took the middle of the road at 425F and preheated my oven. I placed the two halves, open ends downward, into an aluminum baking pan. Now the coconut has a rather "hairy" exterior, so I covered them with a sheet of aluminum foil, leaving the ends open for air circulation. How embarrassing it would have been to have the hair on the coconut catch on fire.

I roasted the coconut for 20 minutes; the edges of the meat closest to the shell will start turning brown. Removed the pan from the oven and let them cool till I could comfortably handle them. Using a meat mallet to whack the shell and a butter knife between the shell and meat, I removed the meat from the shell; it will break apart if you're not gentle in the procedure.

The meat will have a firm brown skin on it and this can easily be removed using a vegetable/potato peeler. Again, be gentle as it can break apart easily.

The final tool you'll need is a grater for shredding the deskinned coconut meat. Now you might want to use a food processor, but the meat is very moist, so don't be surprised to constantly be cleaning your blades. In this instance, a grater is just more logical and efficient to use.

After shredding, I was able to fill a quart size freezer bag; squeeze the air out before sealing and it will last about six months in the freezer.

All in all, I probably will try this again, but this time I will be more careful and save the liquid. Whether I use it immediately for baking, or drinks like a pina colada, or freeze it into cubes, I'll still not waste it.

Mary Cokenour

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