Cookbook | Recipes | Ingredients | Fruit | Basic Foodstuffs

Coconuts are large tropical seeds with many uses in cooking.

Characteristics edit

When young, coconuts are smooth and green on the outside. The inside contains a thin layer of white, jelly-like flesh with a good amount of clear liquid, called coconut water.[1][2][3] As the coconut ages, the outside becomes brown and fibrous, the amount of coconut water decreases, and the inner flesh thickens and hardens.[2][4] The flavor of the meat is mild but aromatic.[3]

Mature coconut flesh is edible as is, but it is often separated from the hull and processed to make various coconut products. When shredded and processed with hot water, the flesh yields coconut milk, a rich, white liquid.[1][5][6] When this is allowed to separate and thicken, it produces coconut cream, which has a much lower water content.[1][7] When pressed, the flesh yields coconut oil.[5][6] It can also be shaved or shredded—either sweetened or unsweetened—to make various grades of dried coconut.[1][6][8] Coconut syrup can be produced by cooking the milk with sugar.[6]

Seasonality edit

As the tree fruits regularly, coconuts are in season year-round.[5]

Selection and storage edit

When choosing coconuts, you'll want to give them a shake to make sure they still contain liquid—if they do not, they are too dry.[9] You also want to avoid cracked or moldy coconuts.[3][9] Mature coconuts are very hardy and can be kept at room temperature.[10] Young coconuts can also be kept at room temperature, but they only last about a week before the inside may start to ferment.[2] Dried coconut can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature away from light, heat, and moisture. Because of the high fat content, it will eventually go rancid.

Preparation edit

When working with whole coconuts, some preparation is required.[3] For young coconuts, use a large, sharp knife or cleaver to make a square cut in the top, and remove it to leave an opening. The water can then be poured out, and the soft flesh can just be scooped out with a spoon. With mature coconuts, the first step is to punch holes in the eyes to drain out any coconut water. The next step is to use a mallet to crack open the coconut, then use a peeler or knife to peel the brown skin from the flesh.[9]

Use edit

With all its different components and products, coconut is used in a wide range of dishes. The shoots can be eaten as hearts of palm,[5] and the young coconut flesh and water are often consumed on their own. The milk and cream are usually cooked in both sweet and savory dishes, such as curries and puddings, where they add a rich character.[2][10][11][12] Coconut oil has some similar characteristics to butter, which makes the oil a good dairy-free substitute.[10] Dried coconut is often used in patisserie and confectionery, where it adds richness, flavor, texture, and aesthetic character.[1][3][11][13]

Recipes edit

References edit

  1. a b c d e Figoni, Paula I. (2010-11-09). How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-39267-6.
  2. a b c d Thaler, Maximus; Safferstein, Dayna (2014). A Curious Harvest: The Practical Art of Cooking Everything. Quarry Books. ISBN 978-1-59253-928-4.
  3. a b c d e Labensky, Sarah; Martel, Priscilla; Damme, Eddy Van (2015-01-06). On Baking: A Textbook of Baking and Pastry Fundamentals, Updated Edition. Pearson Education. ISBN 978-0-13-388675-7.
  4. The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) (2015-02-25). Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-92865-3.
  5. a b c d Rinsky, Glenn; Rinsky, Laura Halpin (2008-02-28). The Pastry Chef's Companion: A Comprehensive Resource Guide for the Baking and Pastry Professional. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-00955-0.
  6. a b c d Davidson, Alan (2014-01-01). Jaine, Tom (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199677337.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7.
  7. Labensky, Sarah R.; Hause, Alan M.; Martel, Priscilla (2018-01-18). On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. Pearson. ISBN 978-0-13-444190-0.
  8. Friberg, Bo (2016-09-13). The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-470-46629-2.
  9. a b c Gisslen, Wayne (2015-03-12). Essentials of Professional Cooking, 2nd Edition. Wiley Global Education. ISBN 978-1-119-03072-0.
  10. a b c Ruhlman, Michael (2008). The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef's Craft for Every Kitchen. Black Incorporated. ISBN 978-1-86395-143-2.
  11. a b Goldstein, Darra (2015). The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-931339-6.
  12. The Chefs of Le Cordon Bleu (2011-12-02). Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie and Baking Foundations. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1-4390-5713-1.
  13. Gisslen, Wayne (2016-09-21). Professional Baking. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-119-14844-9.