There are few things more refreshing and thirst quenching than fresh coconut juice. Some people will think this is like doing an entry on steamed rice but I cannot ignore the simple pleasure of sipping a glass of cold coconut water with chunks of young coconut meat that has sunk to the bottom of the glass. For those lucky enough to have a coconut tree in their backyard, this treat can cost far less than a can of Diet Coke. While this may seem plebian, I think it is a sublime drink. When was the last time you had a fresh coconut???
The coconut is found throughout the tropical and equatorial regions of the world. It typically flourishes near the sea and at lower elevations. It bears fruit all year round. According to Desmond Tate’s book on Philippine Fruit, the name coconut may have come from the Portuguese word for monkey (quoque). Europeans may have associated the coconut fruit with the face of a monkey…go figure. It is an extremely useful tree with the trunk, leaves and fruit finding several uses. But be careful if you plan to pluck your own coconut – one that falls squarely on your head could kill you.
Just when I thought plucking a coconut and opening it up was relatively simple, it turns out that you have to pick the coconut when it is just right for the purpose you have in mind. For juice or a drink, you want a young coconut with sweet juice but just starting to form its meat. Those in the know, our staff that grew up in the middle of coconut plantations, refer to the description “mala-uhugin” which literally translated is “snot-like” or “phlegm-like”. What that means is that the coconut meat is still thin, opaque, soft and easily scrapped from the inside of the fruit. Add this to the coconut water, chill and serve. The coconut in this third somewhat unfocused picture is not “mala-uhugin” and is a bit old for juice. At this meatier stage it is almost ready for grating which can then be toasted and used as a topping to various Filipino rice desserts.
Coconuts can be purchased in nearly every market and at roadside stands when on out of town trips. A couple of weeks ago I purchased several and paid P10 each, up from P8 a few months ago. I like to bring the whole nuts and throw them into a pool for several hours to cool them down. Then I open them and put the juice in a pitcher, add coconut meat and chill or add ice if it is to be served immediately. Delicious. Have it more often. If you had a coconut a day instead of a softdrink, the average farmer would be much happier, don’t you think? Now if only I could develop a Diet Coconut, I would make a fortune.