Macapuno

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For as long as I can remember, I have really liked macapuno candy. I also liked macapuno tarts, macapuno ice cream and macapuno strings in halo-halo. But now that I think about it, I have never actually seen a macapuno! Have you? So when I saw these husked coconuts for sale at the market the other day with a sign that said Macapuno or Makapuno, how could I resist? They looked exactly like a regular coconuts but they seemed to weight more and felt less hollow. At PHP40 per piece, they were way pricier than say the PHP8-10 regular coconuts… Macapuno nuts are actually aberrant coconuts. Nuts whose genetics short-circuited along the way and whose fruit are delightfully different from a regular coconut.

Not sure if these nutty nuts occur in other countries (I would guess they do) but they mac2certainly have achieved an elevated status in the Philippines. It seems that once a tree bears macapuno fruit, some but not all, of its fruit for as long as it lives turns out to be macapuno. But you can’t raise it and it just occurs naturally or unnaturally, for that matter. A lot of work has gone into figuring out how to successfully propagate macapuno but I’m not sure if it is completely successful yet — at any rate, planting a macapuno nut does not guarantee the growth of a macapuno tree! And I would guess that less than 1-2% of all trees ever bear macapuno nuts. So what was it like? Opened up, it was bizarre, cool and unexpected. The meat was incredibly thick and there was no water in the center of the fruit, more like a clear gelatin. The meat was easy to scoop out and surprisingly, didn’t taste like much, but it was definitely different from a regular coconut…

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51 Responses

  1. You’re absolutely right! I am also a Macapuno lover but have not actually tasted or seen the insides of a fresh macapuno. I will definitely have to try this sometime soon. :)

  2. Growing up, I remember my aunt would make sweet macapuno strings from fresh macapuno nuts esp. during fiestas. I thought there existed real macapuno nut trees because of the quantity of these nuts my aunt could get to make her own macapuno strings. I still wonder how one could differentiate a macapuno from a regular coconut without opening it.

  3. I was half expecting you to say it was sweet like what we all know macapuno to be, heheh. This is the first time I’ve seen a photo of a macapuno, very interesting.

  4. I LOVE macapuno in every form! I’ve only seen a macapuno once in my life: scooped it up and brought it home to my help. I watched her like a hawk as she scooped out the flesh and cooked it with a lot of sugar. Delightful! This is one of those things that makes me so happy to be Pinoy. Another thing that makes me macapuno-happy: macapuno balls! I snatch those up whenever I see them in the supermarket, which isn’t often.

  5. we had a macapuno tree at the back of our house when i was a kid. there would be around five macapuno for every bunch of 15 nuts. five nuts would produce a large batch of sugared macapuno (same recipe as lori’s helper). they were very good with fresh pan de sal.

  6. juls, I can’t think of easily find an English name, so I guess Macapuno is it…though I like “mutant nut” or “loco coco” comes a close second… I used to eat at a restaurant in New York called coco pazzo that was a cool name too…it means crazy coconut (head, that is…). Here is an interesting site on the different types of coconuts in case you are interested – https://www.siu.edu/~ebl/leaflets/coconut.htm – skymermaid, can you shed some light on how you knew which ones were actually macapuno without opening them? Weight, size of fruit, sound if you knocked on it??? Thanks. Lori, watch for the next post on what I did to the macapuno… Chris, it was surprisingly bland, but transforms with sugar and heat! Virgilio, I found these nuts incredibly weighty and dense feeling. Miriam, it’s one of those ingredients many of us take for granted…enjoyed it many hundreds of times but never saw it fresh…

  7. Marketman, I believe macapuno is called “coconut sport.” In the 60s and 70s scientists from UP Los Baños conducted extensive research to try to grow pure macapuno palms. I’m afraid I cannot, for the life of me, remember the name of the person who figured prominently in this endeavor – I think it was one Dr. De Guzman. Anyway, I believe they were quite successful and that paved the way for field cultivation of macapuno trees.

  8. Jacob’s Mom: I’ve seen that too. On the bottles of Macapuno we use to make Pinoy desserts it says “Coconut Sport” in parantheses.

    I love it too! :)

  9. i love macapuno, there’s an abundance of it during fiesta time relatives from the bukid would bring macapuno as their gifts, aside from free range chickens and eggs. sabi ni inay kapag kinalog mo yung niyog, you don’t hear the swoosh of the coconut water. nilalagyan din namin ng dahon ng anis (i don’t know its english name but it is different from the star anise that is commonly seen in the markets), yung bottled macapuno dito yung cocounut strings matigas para siyang mature coconut na kinayod, boooooh.

  10. Mr. MM

    i also like macapuno but never really saw the real thing ‘coz i always saw it in the bottled form na and sold in supermarkets…but i do love macapuno just as you said, either in ice cream, candies, tarts, pies ..etc..

  11. “Coconut Sport”? Scary! “OK childrennnn…. it’s time to play coconut sport, the rules are simple, just throw, catch and when the coconut hits your toes…scream in pain”!!!

    I think macapuno is good enough a name for this wonderful freak o’ nut. We just need effort in explaining to our western brethren on how it differs from the normal coconut…

    “You know Joe… some ah times ah coconut goes ah nuts and you get a mutant, you know just like x-men”…

  12. I rarely buy macapuno strings in jars. As Alilay says, it’s just sweetened young niyog. However, I do buy the sweetened macapuno balls in jars because they are the real thing. Nothing however, compares to homemade minatamis na macapuno.
    Dahon ng anis is known as kalumata in Bulacan.

  13. An addendum to my makapuno posting, it was Dr. Emerita de Guzman in the 1960s who developed the makapuno tree that could potentially bear makapuno nuts exclusively.

  14. Jacob’s Mom, you are right…I have heard that name before but because I thought it was so bizarre, it didn’t stick in my memory banks… maybe we should lobby to have it changed to “genetically challenged coconut” – from what I can tell it cannot be farmed with certainty yet…many fruits still turn out to be regular coconuts. Maricel, yes, I agree most bottled macapuno are frauds…they don’t taste like the real thing at all…especially if you have made it from scratch!

  15. CWID, thanks for that! Figures that it would be the Thais that would raise it commercially… I wonder why it isn’t that common here yet…

  16. Just sooooo loved macapuno, actually I’ve been craving macapuno for days now, and I even dream about it last night. Just love it.

  17. Hi MM! I too Looove Macapuno in all its varieties of sweetened desserts. The botlled ones I find too sweet though. Macapuno in Halohalo is heavenly. I have been “swindled” by some unscruplous vendors who sold me “macapuno” daw at Divisoria. They turned out to be really old coconuts. I have never bought any since then. I guess it pays to buy from reputable “sukis” so they don’t cheat in you. I don’t mind paying more but don’t cheat on me. I have never seen the insides of the fruit so Thank you for the pic.

  18. Yum! Yum! i love macapuno as well… i remember my grandma making sweet macvapuno and i was tasked to scoop out the macapuno from the shells… i love it togeteher with sweetened beans and garbanzos.. makes me think of fiestas and christmas…

  19. Yes, I have heard of stories that Macapuno is very Filipino and the one who developed was indeed from UP. Sadly however, because of poor patenting, the macapuno plant was patented by a country other than the Philippines.

  20. ohhh, i miss this! i think i’m off to the filipino store to get me a bottle…
    thank you for your post, MM!

  21. The best macapuno is the one fresh from the fruit. Use a melon scraper and cook the flesh in sugar. You can see, taste and smell the difference between freshly cooked sweet macapuno from bottled macapuno. Ang bottled macapuno maanta at may amoy at pati lasa iba. The best one are fresh from the pan. I know because we use to have a vegetable store sa Hagonoy Market, San Andres Bukid, Manila. My Mama and I used to go to Tanauan, Batangas and Calamba and buy buco and other vegetables and sell it in the market. Mahirap makakuha ng niyog na macapuno sa California at maski nga lanzones e frozen kahit saan sa California but at least may saging na saba na nabibili kaya nakakapagluto kami ng turon with langka at banana cue. I wish we can produce ayungin or perch sa Pilipinas na mas malaki pa sa kamay ng tao. We have it here sa California.

  22. Mr. Marketman I like your site and I can tell everyone the food, restaurant and places I’m visiting all over the world. Pero walang papalit sa Philippine culture basta magtulungan lang tayong lahat.

  23. my late father use to cook the macapuno but after removing it from the nut, he would blanch it with hot water. I didnt know the theory behind that. I just love the macapuno, perfect dessert for all occasions.

  24. We used to have 3 macapuno trees in our barkyard in the family compound where I grew up. My lola always referred to them as “macapuno trees”, different from the coconut trees surrounding them too, and I really wondered how she could tell the difference since they all looked the same (coconut trees) to me. Once they bear fruit she would have them constantly checked if the fruit was already ripe for picking. Our houseboy would shimmy up the tree and shake the fruits to listen if the fruits still have water in them. This is done for several days. As soon as a fruit sounds hollow (no water) and weighs heavier, it should be ripe for picking. My lola would then make sweetened macapuno threads from the meat. Sometimes she’d put balls as well so our macapuno would be chunky, and not too sweet since she doesn’t put too much sugar in it. That was really yummy!

  25. oh, so macapuno pala is a mutant version of the coconut! aha! thanks for clearing up that argument. it’s one of those topics which always come up during family gatherings. yah. we’re kapampangan. so, when it veers towards that topic, everyone has something to say but no one can really confirm what the answer really is. yah, from a stranger’s point of view, the time spent for that topic is such a waste. but not in a kapampangan’s household full of people who really love food. :)

    anyways, we like our macapuno as fresh as possible. then we layer on the buko ice cream, mini-mini cubes of leche flan and mini-mini cubes of queso de bola. whaw! kaniyaman! and the thing with macapuno is sometimes they have this soft ball of juicy buco ?orb?. the word for it escapes me right now, but it’s really da best!

  26. i cooked macapuno last saturday! i have always craved macapuno and you guys are right, the bottled ‘macapuno sold in supermarkets aren’t real/pure. but last week the department of horticulture in UPLB called saying they have a few extra nuts and sold them for just P10 each. it was the first time i saw macapuno fresh (now i got closure).

    right now i’m eating the sweet macapuno i made. heavenly. but the pleasure starts from smelling the coconut-y aroma as soon as you drop the macapuno strings in the boiling sugar mixture.

  27. Not sure if these nutty nuts occur in other countries (I would guess they do)

    I believe these are known as “kopyor” in Indonesia.

  28. is macapuno the same as our kelapa kopyor here in Indonesia? coz it looks the same hehe and from everyone’s descriptions sounds the same too. do u know MM?

  29. masarap ang macapuno… since i was a kid i love macapuno.kaya hangang ngayon gusto ko mag business ng macapuno, sana matupad ang pangarap ko. will somebody help me, please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. I am badly in need of knowing where to buy these bottled macapuno balls. I am presently working as a pastry chef for an upcoming filipino restauranthere in cebu and I wish to showcase these wonderful items in my dessert menu. We will for sure be ordering all year round. THank you very much. Pam

  31. I am so thankful to click on your site…It’s very informative…I’m a macapuno lover too & because of my passion for it I tried to innovate processed products from this awesome fruit…One of these is Macapuno Balls in Syrup. In this regard, I’m very eager to address the need of Pam Relampagos re:Macapuno Balls. MM,could you please provide me the contact numbers or email address of Pam? She can also reach me through these phone numbers:Residence: (032)4227100 & Cell:09167777825 or email me at precylife@yahoo.com. Thank you very much for your help…Precy Cerna.

  32. Hi! I’d like to address the need and inform Ms. Pam Relampagos, that we produce 100% Pure Makapuno, as it was always mentioned nowadays that Bicol Region has now the most produced makapuno nuts. She may call me at cell # 09209518048 or email me at llomarfoodsenterprises@yahoo.com. May I also inform that we already have nuts that produce 99.9% makapuno. We can also refer who are interested to buy these makapuno seedlings. Thank you very much Mr. MM for this space that really gives information about this not so known “MAKAPUNO”…jeil rillo-martinez

  33. where can i buy macapuno coconut sprounting plant. i am interested to plant this makapuno. is there a store in the philippines to buy the seed. thanks.

  34. mench, I don’t know of anyone selling the macapuno seedlings. Actually, I thought that you can’t cultivate it, they just happen as a freak of nature. I am not sure if fruit from macapuno trees result in adult trees themselves that remain abnormal…

  35. Hi! Could anyone please share their recipe for making homemade macapuno? How much water and sugar do I need, and for how long do I have to cook it? Thanks in advance!

  36. Hi! I am producing embryo cultured makapuno seedlings. These are homozygous and self-pollinating, meaning, it is assured 100% makapuno yield. Just contact me if anybody is interested.

    microplant

  37. Hi,
    This is a great site!
    I a keen to buy some seedlings of this makapuno coconut and also a full coconut for my collection. I am keen in any unusual coconuts and also ‘freak’ ones.
    Thanks
    Jack Goh
    Singapore

  38. Makapuno is rightfully spelled with a k rather than a c. It is because the word came from the Pilipino word maka and the earliest publications too were using makapuno. If we acknowledge that this is very Filipino then we should spell it with k. I have an official letter to this effect but maybe has not gone to the right people. Let us start using the right word then. Thank you. You can check out my name in google to know more…..

  39. to know if the husked coconut is a makapuno or not, simply try to rattle it. if there is a swooshing sound of water, its not makapuno. Makapuno has a sticky substance inside, like a goo so it doesnt produce the swooshy sound.

  40. What am i doing in a foodie website when I am but a lowly subsistence cook (meaning cooking for the family so they do not die)!!! My memory of macapuno candy is from my childhood when aunts cooked the stuff for a whole day – I don’t have the patience. When I next go back to Quezon, I am challenged to research from either surviving aunt for the recipe. It’s this macapuno stuff with milk that is wrapped in Japanese paper. The other macapuno recipe which is more common is the minatamis na macapuno, macapuno in sugar. The opacity or translucence of the macapuno strings depends on the amount of sugar: less sugar, less translucent; more sugar, more translucent.

    I shall keep you posted, Marketman. You have intrigued me enough to go back to my roots.

  41. I’m going to steer this thread towards a slightly different direction, ok? Does anyone out there have an easy recipe to make “Makapuno Pie?” I don’t want Buko Pie, I want Makapuno Pie.

  42. Masarap palang magbasa ng mga comments dito,mahilig din akong mag luto and I just love macapuno like you guys do. And I know how frustrating it is when you’re craving, buy jars and jars of this I call “COCO LOCO” not mindind how much, yoon pala “niyog” lang! Matamis nang sobra, sobra pang tigas, nakakainis, ‘di ba? Try “Kayumanggi” brand. Naku, ewan ko, sounds like I’m promoting this brand but honestly I don’t even know the owner. One thing I know, this is the real, the best, purest, original macapuno. Yummy talaga! Just like cracking the shell open and find already grated macapuno inside. So if you find this brand, try one and enjoy!

  43. i really like macapuno, too! a staff of my husband gave him one…yes…it looks so hard and brought it to a coconut vendor just to open it coz i myself dont know how i would open it..then..when it was open..i was surprised how it looks like inside…coz it’s really different from an ordinary coconut.

  44. My family too has such a weakness for macapuno! I have always been wary of the bottled “macapuno” sold in the supermarts though because they usually are really just, yikes, sweetened mature coconuts!
    We were in the area of Los Banos, Laguna two Fridays ago returning from Lucban, Quezon(for the Pahiyas Festival). We made the traditional stop at the “The Original Buco Pie” when my mother chanced on a nearby fruit stall selling macapuno nuts at 3 pcs for Php 100 (which was quite cheap!) The following day, I cracked open the nuts and found the gooey stuff inside with their thick white meat. I carefully scrapped the meat,the prepared the syrup (2 cups white sugar for every half a cup of water)and put in some pandan leaves. Wow, my first time to make sweetened macapuno from scratch! It was sooo good that it sadly didn’t last long!

  45. hi everyone, wow… we are all macapuno lover’s, since i loved macapuno so much, my husband explore Laguna to look for macapuno and cooked it for me! it was so sweet of him to do that, and guess what it becomes our business now, we are selling the “Best Macapuno in town” you must try it.

  46. wow, ang dami pala nating macapuno lover, i just love it, i can finish a whole package of red ribbons macapuno balls in one sitting yummmyyyy:)

  47. i love the macapuno tarts from Pan de Manila! lots or pure macapuno filling on a flaky crust! :D yummy.. and not too sweet! :D

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