Thatâ€™s â€œsnotty,â€ not â€œsnootyâ€ coconuts. I am always intrigued when my crew selects fresh coconuts on roadside stops on the way to the beach. They are so certain that they seek specimens that are locally referred to as â€œmalauhuginâ€ or literally translated – â€œsnot-like.â€ The vendors always acquiesce and search through their piles of nuts (or are they fruits?), using their bolos to tap the coconuts in search of the perfect â€œmalauhugins.â€ The sound they hear after they tap the fruit is an indicator of just how mature the fruit is and different degrees of maturity are ideal for different uses. I suppose if the Eskimos can have 30+ words for/or types of snow then we should have at least 10 to describe the quality of our abundant coconutsâ€¦ and â€œmalauhuginâ€ is perfect chilled and sipped with a straw straight out of the coconut shell. Then cracked open and the somewhat translucent sweet flesh is scooped up with a spoon for immediate consumptionâ€¦
Yesterday, the crew spied several ideal looking coconuts still up on the tree in an empty lot next to our place so they pried them loose with a pole and opened them up. They expressed slight disappointment that the coconuts were slightly “over the hill” and not the finest drinking stageâ€¦ a brief discussion ensued and here is the summaryâ€¦ FOUR critical stages in the life cycle of a coconutâ€¦according to Marketmanilaâ€™s highly expert Cebuano crew. They all hail from Cebu and actually grew up on coconut farms! But sorry, I only have the Cebuano or Visayan terms and not the Pilipino equivalent terms, perhaps readers can supply the appropriate adjectives in Pilipino:
Stage 1 : â€œSagbayluwagâ€ â€“ this is a young coconut that has sweet water but almost no â€œmeatâ€ to speak off. While drinkable, it is considered a waste as you have harvested it too early and before it had a chance to display its potential. Kind of like eating a teeny tiny lobster before it has had a chance to really explore the reefâ€¦
Stage 2: â€œButongâ€ â€“ this is the ideal drinking state or locally known as â€œmalauhugin.â€ Here there is sweet coconut water as well as just right thickness and consistency of meat that is translucent, soft and tasty. This is the ideal stage for serving cold in a glass or in the coconut shell itself. A delicacy when done absolutely rightâ€¦and when was the last time you had one of these? At PHP8 a coconut roadside, this is half the price of a Diet Coke in a can! We buy several coconuts and once at the beach, let them float in an ice bath for at least 2 hours before serving. Excellent drink, one of my favorites! Reportedly helps to calm the stomach after a dizzying zigzag in a car or a yacht ride on rough seasâ€¦
Stage 3: â€œUngolâ€ – This is past itâ€™s prime from a drinkability standpoint though the water is still okay. The meat is more solid, thicker and a clean white. It is no longer translucent. The photograph up on top is in this stage. It is considered the perfect state from which to make bucaio, that sweet, chewy coconut delicacy.
Stage 4: â€œLahingâ€ â€“ This is the stage that is made into grated coconut that is squeezed for its coconut milk. Here the coconut is already â€œhardâ€ and must be scraped off the inside of the shell.