Mature Coconut


In another post on something that just happens to be in one’s backyard, here is a mature coconut and how to strip it of its outer layer… On previous trips to Europe, I have always been amused then flabbergasted by coconuts such as these for sale in the chi-chi-est of food stores at outrageous prices. I saw some once at the fruit section of Fauchon in Paris for a whopping 6 Euro or nearly PHP500 a piece! Proudly sourced from somewhere in Africa, I think. Then last year I saw slices of mature coconut for sale from a street cart in Athens, for about 1 Euro for an eighth or a tenth of one coconut! Yikes, they might as well eat their Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen, it would be significantly cheaper! And closer to home, I suspect many folks just rely on canned coconut cream for convenience, or buy grated coconut at the market if they want to squeeze their own milk/cream. Not too many folks are still going to be venturing out to the backyard, seeking out a mature and nearly totally dried up coconut, and making their own grated coconut…


When we were much younger, we used to grate our own coconuts on a kudkuran or grater, which you had to sit on to steady and you leaned over slightly to apply force while scraping the half coconut sans coconut water on the sharp edges of the grater. I used to play with the kudkuran when there was nothing else to do and I was being my pesty self, while others needed to finish grating the coconuts, and once gave myself a nasty scrape on my hands when not paying full attention. I never went near a kudkuran again. The electric powered machines that are now frequently used in local markets are far faster and more efficient, but they lack the languid and “real” feel of a manual grater…


At any rate, the brown coconut, which has often already fallen to the ground, is lightly scored with a bolo (machete) and sections peeled off to reveal the hairy nut within. Bash this nut with the bolo in just the right manner and you end up with two half pieces that can readily be grated. If you want to make your own coconut milk/cream, you might want to read this post I did eons ago. And if you live in a far off Western land and are wondering how much these might cost in our neck of the woods, it’s probably FREE or at most $0.10 at the source… Heeheehee. I suppose it is the same pricing disconnect that someone from a strawberry field in California would express when they found out that some Driscoll strawberries in Manila sell for upwards of $1.50 per piece! :( So eat more of the stuff that grows in your backyard… :)


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25 Responses

  1. Most likely it comes from the Ivory Coast, Africa (Côte d’Ivoire) which was once ruled by France.

  2. Most Californian sold coconuts (young and/or mature) are from Cambodia or Vietnam…and are about $3.00 or so each….

  3. We collected 5 mature coconuts fallen to the ground at the back of my mother’s place. The rows of coconut trees were planted by the local council to beautify the senior’s village. The fresh coconut milk was used for the budbud kabog experiment and puto maya last Easter Sunday.

  4. we fortunately, are still able to get coconuts from the backyard for coconut milk and for macapuno desserts. last week was a blast when our household help was able to take down 5 shells of macapuno which our cook made into a yummy dessert. while she was preparing the dessert i went to get my camera but unfortunately wasnt able to take shots of the shells before they were disposed. you could imagine the quizzical look in our cook’s face wondering why i would want to take photos of trash! hehehe!

  5. Down-side for Filipinos living abroad are the questions from others about spurious rumors, sad facts and downright embarrassing news one has to address at work and in parties. The fake stone-age tribe, the eating and cruel trade in dog meat, Imelda’s shoddy vice, the popularity of fetal ducklings, heathen faith healing, the pregnant man, etc. Mostly brazen efforts (of foreign media) at selling news but more often brought up by us ourselves. Then there was this Filipino guy featured in a TV program called Real People who easily and quickly de-husked a coconut with his bare teeth. Anthony Bourdain’s Philippine visit is one recent positive coverage that I hope would supplant all of the above in people’s mind.

  6. Honestly i cant afford to buy a coconut abroad, it is way expensive! if ever that i wanted to cook ginataan, ill just buy a packet of fabricated coconut milk, and if i wanted to drink coconut juice then i will sort it with juice-in-a-can!, they taste good too but of course do not compare to real one..

  7. Growing up in the province, we would gather these a few days before Halloween, fill the whole trunk of a pick-up truck and deliver these to the market to a wholesaler. The proceeds would then be divided among us kids. We used to sell them for 5peso a piece, but niyog here in MM can cost as much as 20pesos now.

    For myself, I regularly use the gata [not the copras] to cleanse my scalp and ended up with very thick strands of very black and very straight hair. Just slightly heat the gata and apply using a cotton ball, wrap hair in towel for 30 mins, and rinse, rinse, rinse… otherwise you’ll smell like copras and your forehead will shine like waxed cement floor.

  8. Today is EARTH DAY and while I can’t say cultivate your own coconuts, maybe a little garden patch in the backyard?

    I can’t do Betty Q’s super variety tomato plantation but also taking inspiration from the Obama White Household and the First Lady Michelle who recently started their version of a Victory garden, I started my own with a few herbs, a couple of tomatoes, and prepared a small trellis for ampalaya ( for when the weather is a little warmer) and a small camote patch for ground cover in another area.

    AND….if we all went vegan for just one day , look what happens :
    By Kathy Freston, Huffington Post
    Posted on April 2, 2009, Printed on April 18, 2009

    If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:
    ● 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for
    almost 4 months;
    ● 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of
    New Mexico for more than a year;
    ● 70 million gallons of gas — enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico
    combined with plenty to spare;
    ● 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;
    ● 33 tons of antibiotics.
    If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would prevent:
    ● Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as
    produced by all of France;
    ● 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages;
    ● 4.5 million tons of animal excrement;
    ● Almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant.
    According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.

    See how easy it is to make an impact?

    Other Points:
    Globally, we feed 756 million tons of grain to farmed animals. If we fed that grain to the 1.4 billion people who are living in abject poverty, each of them would be provided more than half a ton of grain, or about 3 pounds of grain/day — that’s twice the grain they would need to survive.
    The meat industry causes almost 40% more greenhouse gas emissions than all the
    world’s transportation systems — that’s all the cars, trucks, SUVs, planes and ships
    in the world combined.
    Factory farming is one of the biggest contributors to the most serious environmental problems at every level –local and global., and other problems beyond global warming, such as air pollution, water shortages and pollution, and loss of biodiversity.
    Researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that switching from standard American diet to a vegan diet is more effective in the fight against global warming than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid.


  9. How do you know when a coconut is good? I’ve bought several coconuts from the store and it always either rotten inside or it doesn’t taste fresh. I’ve had it with the coconuts.

  10. am trying to find flavouring ingredients/extracts (e.g. rose water, orange blossom water and all those exotic stuff) in manila but I exhausted all internet search. Could you please suggest me which store I should go to? Am thinking of buying in bulk. Really appreciate your help.

    Am a sweet enthusiast and loves to experiment.

    Thanks mucho.

  11. Asi: rose water and orange blosssom water are commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine as well as East Indian cooking. If you can find a Middle Eastern store there, you will have better luck for those ingredients there. Sometimes too they are availble in drug stores BUT I wouldn’t buy it there for it is uncertain whether the manufacturer uses FOOD GRADE ESSENTIAL OILS!

    Since you love to experiment, there is a procedure on making ORANGE WATER (not the blossoms!) on the web….you use orange peel and water simmered on low heat the whole day.

  12. Yes, Connie C…I have limited my family’s consumption of meat. I am slowly weaning them off it…for health reasons as well. Of course, eating tofu is nothing new for Chinese population. I have even resorted to making tofu based desserts. I once made a mango-tofu pudding much like a bavarian creme BUT using no dairy! The boys and hubby cannot even tell the difference between the real bavarian creme and the tofu based one.

    Oh, for your ampalaya…to speed up warming your soil, cover the area with BLACK PLASTIC MULCH (a biodegradable one is available now at garden stores)…covr your camote patch with it too all thrpough the growing season. I don’t know much about the weather there. Before I start even dreaming what I am going to plant this year, I consult the FARMER’S ALMANAC! For our zone, we will not have a hot summer..only about 1 month maybe July and part of August. So, to jumpart my hot weather vegetables like tomatoes, I prep the area like mentioned above. Then after covering it with Black Mulch, I also make like a low greenhouse using REBARS and PVC pipes and then cover the hoop with clear plastic. In no time at all, it will be nice and warm in there and your amplaya and camote will be happy campers!

  13. Hi BettyQ. Once again, thanks for your useful tips. Luckily, we have relatively warmer weather and a longer summer here in the Chesapeake Bay area than yours in the Atlantic Northwest, and tho our area forecast says 80 degrees F this weekend, we are having freezing rain as I enter this post….ah, this crazy weather pattern.

    Can you share your mango tofu pudding recipe? I presume you also did not use eggs. I made a sweet potato tofu pie once and my son who is vegan really enjoyed it. Thanks.

  14. Not a good idea to have a fruit bearing coconut tree around the house especially where children are around. The fruit will break off from the cluster and hit someone’s head leading to serious head injuries without any notice or warning. Matured coconuts are the lifeblood of our rice based kakanin either the sweet or regular rice varieties and curries. The electric powered coconut grater are good when milking the shaved coconut. The manual or horsey type grater are good for finishing or dredging coconut shavings like palitaw, pichi-pichi, puto and kutsinta just to name a few here. It has a good body and bite to the shaved ones.

  15. pahabol to comment above: best if coconut is manually grated and is from a fruit that is mature, not geriatric. :)

  16. We cook everything with coconut milk and not having fresh coconut milk is perhaps one the most difficult things I had to contend with when I moved here. The price of a dried up and ugly looking tiny coconut over here is just plain ridiculous. Plus I wouldn’t know how to cut it open, I also don’t have a kudkuran (grater) so I just use the canned coconut milk. It’s not the same, nothing beats the real thing. I miss laing and Bicol express with real coconut milk, just thinking about them makes me both home sick and hungry at the same time.

  17. I have fond memories of my lola’s old cook using the kudkuran. I would always volunteer to help and later on would squeeze the grated coconut with my little paws. I’d barely get any cream, and would always be amazed at how she could get so much. Ahh, the memories of childhood :)

    Here are some tips of finding good coconuts
    1.Check the weight-heavy means meaty as to compare to it size.
    2.Shake and listen to its sound inside(water movement)if the water movement creates splashy sound, means meat is thin and not good enough. choose if whose the least sound.
    3.Check the coconut if its wet(some areas) and rotting smell is around. that is absolutely damaged.
    4.Size in appearance does not be the matter but always its weight…..

  19. Gener,

    Thank you so much for that info. I will try one more time and hopefully well have better luck. Kutchinta is really not kutchinta without freshly grated cococut.

  20. Gener,
    Thanks for the tip, i always like to grate my coconut using the “kudkuran” but i never knew how to tell if the coconut im buying is good or not, I just mainly shake them if there’s water, and to me that was good enough, if i don’t hear water, then maybe the coconut was old try the next one ;-). Btw, for those who live in California, Seafood City sells the kudkuran for less than $10 (good investment).

    Chowhound, nothing beats freshly grated coconut as topping for puto, cutchinta, palitaw, pichi-pichi, and once you use fresh coconut milk, you will never go back to the canned ones, well maybe for convenience ;-) And it’s so easy to open a coconut, just hold it with the palm of your one hand at the bottom of the coconut and smash it’s side with the dull side of your chef’s knife until it starts a crack, turning it around and keep hitting, until the crack lenghtens and meet each other. You just make sure you are doing this in your sink since the water will start pouring out as the crack gets longer.

  21. To Asi, who is looking for rose/orange blossom water – you can sometimes find the latter at the spice store in Marketmarket (Fort Bonifacio), I always forget the name of the store, I think it’s called Spices. They also have thyme water, but I only saw it there once. If they’ve run out, try the Indian stores along UN Avenue (assad’s, uncle ed’s).

  22. we have around 30-plus coconut trees in our garden but we have someone harvest the coconuts when they mature to be cooked into copra meat. My husband thought it just but natural to know how it is to be a coconut farmer so he built an electric kudkuran (which we would see in the market) of those specially-made blades for them as well as a press (for squeezing out the gata) made out of an ordinary car jack. We also bought an ultra heavy coconut de-husker. He then proceeded to master the art of harvesting to opening coconuts and then pressing coconut milk to get gata. Well, to make a long story short, he concluded that he had enough of the tedious and messy job and to just buy gata (for P10 a plastic bag) from the palengke. So, he sold everything to a lady who makes coconut oil as well as VCO. The woman didn’t have enough money to pay though, so we had a year’s supply of VCO as her payment in kind. So much for doing everything yourself, we tell ourselves. There will be others to do it and should also be given the opportunity to earn from it :-)!

  23. Oh gosh, I can’t believe I’m the only one writing about the “hairy nut”. Too precious.

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