Macapuno Preserves a la Marketman

I have always been a huge fan of almost anything macapuno or makapuno. A quirk of nature, a mutant coconut that occurs rarely in the natural course of things, this nut has far more “meat” and sometimes includes a gelatinous liquid in the central cavity. Once a coconut tree bears macapuno fruit, it is remembered as it will yield many more macapunos over its lifespan, sometimes up to 80% of all fruit it bears (a financial bonanza) according to some sources… Macapuno when cooked or preserved has a distinctive flavor, superbly accentuated by sugar, and makes a memorable addition to ice cream, pies, tarts, and other sweet delicacies and desserts. Recently, my favorite way to enjoy it is in a simple halo-halo (a la Razon’s) made up of minatamis na saging (sweetened saba bananas), macapuno, iced milk and leche flan…

I spotted some macapuno at the weekend markets, and bought three of them, for a whoppingly pricey PHP70 a kilo, or roughly PHP75 per nut! That’s nearly 5-6 times the price of non-mutant coconut! Back at home, the nuts were cracked open, and the meat scraped into long shreds with a melon shredder tool…

I have written posts on macapuno previously, and even made some macapuno candy and tarts… but that was years ago…

Be careful not to include any of the brown shell in the shreds.

The meat from three medium-large macapuno was added to a heavy enamel lined pot. I added in about 1 cup of clear liquid/macapuno water and roughly 4-5 cups of sugar. Put this over low-medium heat and stir until it simmers a bit, and the macapuno starts to get less opaque and slightly gelatinous. I am always afraid of going “too far” but as soon as the macapuno seems to soften and it tastes cooked (rather than still starchy and raw), take it off the fire and put it into sterilized bottles, set aside so it can cool, and refrigerate for up to a few weeks.

It’s possible I undercooked this batch just a little, and it’s a bit annoying that it didn’t turn completely translucent… but it did eventually when re-cooked into other recipes. So I guess you can cook it until the point you prefer… and err or undercooking them as you can cook them more if desired later… I have been warned by several folks that what often sells as macapuno in groceries is often doctored coconut rather than true macapuno, and that’s something I would be inclined to believe not knowing any better. These small sized jars that we made over the weekend, filled with macapuno preserves, cost roughly PHP150 to make, and would have to retail for say PHP250-300 for a commercial producer (of course they probably get their macapuno for half the price I did)… so it’s hard to believe that bottles of real macapuno sell for PHP60 or less in the groceries… It’s relatively easy to make at home, however, so you may want to cook up a batch for yourself the next time you spy macapuno nuts in the markets!


27 Responses

  1. I am cuckoo about macapuno,growing up ..we have macapuno along other coconut trees in our front yard,Sadly when my parents decide to build a much bigger house they have to cut them down:) now i have to settle to bottled ones,i do envy your access to almost everything foodie!!

  2. My aunt would make macapuno of firm consistency made more delicious by a hint of aniseed.
    Is there any bottled brand you can recommend?
    As a diabetic it is off my diet, but I indulge about once a year, and only bottled is available in Australia.

  3. my mom tells me that when she and my dad moved to davao in the late 50s, the locals would throw away the macapuno as these could not be converted to copra and were therefore useless.

  4. We have an abundance of macapuno bearing coconut trees in our house which we often give away to relatives and neighbors. I didn’t know what it could cost P75 a pop. Ahhh halo-halo, summer is upon us!

  5. this looks yumm . . . it would also be nice to add it in a good chocolate ice cream. . . i love it when chocolate and coconut mix together :)

  6. The sweet macapuno strings we get here (in Toronto) invariably taste and feel like cooked young coconut while the macapuno balls are transparently fake, they disintegrate as soon as you heat them up. The annoying overwhelming question is why would they resort to fakery and subterfuge when consumers are willing and able to pay for the pure product. Force of habit?

  7. grace and footloose, that really pisses me off… it’s sort of like the vendors who sell “Sagada oranges” when they are all from China and the boxes are still beside the stall. If I were supreme food czar I would cook them in lard… :)

  8. Hello MM. Pray tell, how can you differentiate a regular coconut from the macapuno nut? I would like to get some when I go home.

  9. Hi MM – have you seen the bottled macapuno balls they sell in Centris? Instead of macapuno shreds, they make little balls. I love it because you can taste the macapuno better. I bought one bottle this weekend and will enjoy it next week as a dessert after one of our Filipino meals in the farm :)

  10. I’ve experimented on this many years ago. After the initial boiling of the macapuno in water with sugar, I would prepare in another saucepan syrup (water and sugar boiled to the point when the bubbles are big), then I pour back the cooked macapuno. The resulting jam is shiny and oh, sooooo wonderfully sweet macapuno!

  11. Our family has a small farm in lanao de sur, and about an hour away, there’s another farm that sells the nuts for around P10 a piece. we bought before and made some macapuno, using my tita’s tried and tested recipe. for every 1 kilo of grated macapuno, add 3/4 cups sugar and 250ml water. best.ever. we had so much and it lasted quite long, great idea for a gift.

  12. You are so lucky with your purchase of Macapuno…they are truly rare these days. When I chanced upon some at the Ayala Alabang Weekend Market last January, I immediately bought what was left (2 nuts). Sadly, only 1 was the real deal. The other 1 was a dud. At any rate, for macapuno lovers like me, Magnolia ice cream has a flavor I really like – Macapuno Ube Swirl. It’s really good and creamy and it has shreds of the real Macapuno….

  13. The real question is- Where did you get those cute little canning jars you preserved the macapuno in?

  14. Hi Molly! I have a supplier in Divisoria. They are made in China, so I am not sure I would trust them with real canning in the sense that I don’t put these in a boiling water bath… but if you need some, send me an email, I can probably get them for you… :)

  15. I grew up in the province and macapuno was abundant, which is why I am familiar with it especially its taste. Once in a while, I buy a jar of macapuno string here in California; I’m pretty sure that those jars of macapuno (different brands) are mixed with the regular young coconut. :)

  16. We have a lot of coconut trees that bear macapuno in our farm in Laguna. The last harvest on the1st week of Dec 2012, we sold about 100kg at P24/kg to a food processor and cooked some. Our alalay in the farm usually propagates mature coconuts from the trees that bear macapuno so over the years the number of trees had increased substantially.
    I used to cook and then sell sweet macapuno in jars in the 1980s to workmates. When I had my annual visit to the Philippines in August 2012, I cooked macapuno again and failed – the texture wasn’t right – I forgot how to cook it. My mother’s advice was: Boil water and sugar to make sugar syrup. Separate the macapuno strings as much as possible and slowly, a few strings at a time, add them to the sugar syrup. Don’t stir (so the strings will not disintegrate and become a big blob of mess like I did) until the mixture boils. It is cooked when the strings become translucent/transparent, or maligat.

    Efrell is right – some bottled macapuno being sold are not 100% macapuno. I can attest that a particular brand of macapuno has 100% macapuno – we are one of suppliers and they export to North America, Europe and Australia.

  17. Hi, sir. Good day! I was in cebu last week for a corporate event. During one of our breaks, our team went to your branch in Mango Square to have lunch. We ordered the staples: zubuchon, sisig, dinuguan, lechon mami, kamias shake, etc. We were so full and satisfied!!! While at the counter, ordering frozen lechon for pick up the following day, I saw several bottles of macapuno preserves. It is one of my favorite desserts! I got a bottle to share with my daughter who also happens to like it. When I got to back to Manila, I opened d bottle and sampled it. To my surprise, it doesn’t taste quite the way I expected it. I don’t know if you know the term ma-anta in Tagalog or lanag in ilonggo, but those words came to my mind after I tasted the macapuno strands. I checked the expiration and it says 021114, so it’s far from being expired. I’m just wondering, what could’ve caused it to taste like that? Sayang…

  18. Riza, it should be sweet w distinct macapuno flavor. If it tastes off in any way pls discard it. I would be happy to replace it or send a different preserve if you prefer. Not sure what could have caused this, but I will check other bottles in that batch to see if they are affected. Thank you for pointing this out, we shall look into this. Thanks.

  19. may i pls know where you got your jar? and for how much. i need it for my christmas jam give away sana. THANKSSSSSSSS!!!!**



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