Coconut is an exotic fruit that has many uses. What are they?

Coconuts are grown all over the world and are becoming increasingly popular for their distinctive taste, culinary uses and many potential health benefits.

Do you know how to store it properly?

What vitamins does it contain?

Or how to open it properly?

All this and much more in our article!

Coconut, a fruit full of delicious sweet water

The coconut is the edible fruit of the coconut palm, or coconut tree, which is a tree in the areca family that grows in tropical regions around the world – from Hawaii to Madagascar. Coconut pulp has a high fat content and can be dried, consumed fresh or processed into coconut milk or oil.

The liquid from the nuts, known as coconut water, is used in beverages. The coconut is very sweet and, like other nuts, has a hard outer shell that needs to be cracked open. Although it has the word “nut” in the name, it is a fruit, not a nut.

A whole ripe coconut, a halved coconut next to it, and a bowl of coconut flakes next to it.

Young green coconut

A young coconut is a coconut that is harvested before it is fully mature. It is harvested for both its pulp and the liquid inside, called coconut water. You can find them more in tropical areas and usually in the markets, here they are more difficult to find than ripe brown coconuts.

The skin of a young coconut is thinner and less developed. It also has a softer flesh that can have a slightly gelatinous form. Young coconuts are much easier to open than mature coconuts because they have not developed a thick shell.

They can be cracked open with a cleaver, ideally over the container to catch the coconut juice. Some people prefer to drill a hole in it and drink the water straight through a straw.

Ripe green coconuts.

Health benefits of consuming coconut

Consuming coconut has many health benefits, such as:

  • Although coconut is high in fat, it also contains MCTs (a form of medium-chain fat), which are metabolized differently than other types of fat. Coconut also provides you with carbohydrates and protein along with many essential minerals such as manganese, copper, iron and selenium.
  • Coconut oil reduces the growth of several different types of bacteria .
  • Coconut is low in carbohydrates and rich in antioxidants, healthy fats and fiber that control blood sugar levels .
  • Coconut also contains polyphenol antioxidants that protect our cells from damage, which can help prevent chronic disease .

Side effects of consuming coconut

  • Some people may be allergic to it, although this is relatively rare. However, this allergy is not related to allergies to other nuts such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews and the like.
  • It has a high calorie content .
  • It can increase bad cholesterol , a risk factor for heart disease.

Nutritional values ​​of coconut

Check out the nutritional values ​​of fresh coconut and some products made from it in the table below.

Nutritional values Coconut, fresh
Coconut oil
Coconut milk
Coconut water, unsweetened
Energy 354 calories 833 calories 31 kcal 18 calories
Fats 33 g 99 g 2.1 g 0 g
Carbohydrates 15 g 0.8 g 2.9 g 4.2 g
Sugars 6.2 g 0 g 2.5 g 3.9 g
Fiber 9 g 0 g 0 g 0 g
Proteins 3.3 g 0 g 0.2 g 0.2 g

Vitamins and minerals in coconut

Also look at the amount of minerals and vitamins that 100 grams of fresh coconut and some coconut products contain.

Vitamins and minerals Coconut, fresh
Coconut oil
Coconut milk
Coconut water, unsweetened
Vitamin A 0.00 mcg 0.00 mcg 63.00 mcg 0.00 mcg
Vitamin B1 0.066 mg 0.000 mg 0.000 mg 0.030 mg
Vitamin B2 0.020 mg 0.000 mg 0.000 mg 0.000 mg
Vitamin B3 0.540 mg 0.000 mg 0.000 mg 0.000 mg
Vitamin B6 0.054 mg 0.000 mg 0.000 mg 0.000 mg
Vitamin B9 26.00 mcg 0.00 mcg 0.00 mcg 0.00 mcg
Vitamin C 3.3 mg 0.0 mg 0.0 mg 9.9 mg
Vitamin E 0.24 mg 0.11 mg 0.00 mg 0.00 mg
Vitamin K 0.2 mcg 0.6 mcg 0.0 mcg 0.0 mcg
Calcium 14.00 mg 1.00 mg 188.00 mg 7.00 mg
Copper 0.43 mg 0.00 mg 0.00 mg 0.01 mg
Iron 2.43 mg 0.05 mg 0.30 mg 0.03 mg
Magnesium 32.00 mg 0.00 mg 0.00 mg 6.00 mg
Phosphorus 113.00 mg 0.00 mg 0.00 mg 5.00 mg
Potassium 356.00 mg 0.00 mg 19.00 mg 165.00 mg
Selenium 10.10 mcg 0.00 mcg 0.00 mcg 0.00 mcg
Sodium 20.00 mg 0.00 mg 19.00 mg 26.00 mg
Zinc 1.10 mg 0.02 mg 0.00 mg 0.02 mg

How to choose the best coconut?

Ripe coconuts are available in larger grocery stores year-round. Young green coconuts are more of a specialty that you may be able to find in Asian markets. Coconuts are delicate and do not have a long shelf life.

Choose pieces that are heavy for their size . Avoid coconuts with cracks and those whose openings (pits) are moist or moldy. Shake the coconut; you should hear liquid splashing. It is most easily available in various processed forms .

How to store coconuts?

How you store your coconut depends on which form you buy. The high oil content causes the coconut to go rancid quickly if not stored under the right conditions. Fresh, unopened coconut can be stored at room temperature for up to four months, depending on its original freshness when purchased.

Shredded, fresh coconut should be placed in a tightly sealed container or plastic bag. It can be refrigerated for up to four days or frozen for up to six months. Unopened canned coconut can be stored at room temperature for up to 18 months. After opening, you should keep it in the refrigerator, where it will last for five to seven days.

Packaged coconut in plastic bags can be stored for up to six months at room temperature.

How to use coconut in the kitchen and what products are made from it?

Coconut can be used in the kitchen in many different ways, both in desserts, soups and main dishes. It is especially popular in Thai cuisine. Mix it into a smoothie or curry, but you can also ferment your own coconut yogurt from it and dry it into coconut chips.

How to open a coconut?

  1. Pierce all three hollows in the coconut.
  2. You can do this by taking a screwdriver and gently pushing it into the holes or tapping the screwdriver lightly with a hammer to help the process.
  3. When the indentations are pierced, let the water drain out.
  4. Place the coconut on a tea towel to prevent it from rolling.
  5. Tap around the center of the nut with a hammer, rotating it as you go until it cracks in half.
  6. Then remove the coconut meat by running a knife along the skin.
  7. If the meat is very tender, you can use a spoon.

Now that you know how to use coconut, let’s take a look at the products that are made from it and how you can use them.

Coconut oil

You can find several different types of coconut oil in stores: refined and unrefined (virgin and extra virgin). The refined version comes from dried coconut kernels, and manufacturers often use high heat to extract the oil from the coconut. Unrefined oil is produced with little or no heat either by flash drying or wet milling.

Coconut oil is a great substitute for butter in a wide variety of vegan and dairy-free recipes. It can be sautéed, incorporated into homemade chocolate, added to smoothies and various hot drinks, sprinkled on oatmeal or mixed into muffins, cookies and granola bars.

A glass with coconut oil and a spoon with this oil placed on it.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk is made by grating coconut meat and soaking it in water, then squeezing it through a tea towel or strainer. Milk can be found in stores either in cans or in cartons. The canned version is richer and tends to separate in the can, the carton version is ready to drink and is a popular alternative to cow’s milk. You can make your own coconut milk either by mixing shredded coconut with water or by mixing coconut meat with water.

The thick, creamy texture and sweet taste make it the perfect substitute for any milk. It tastes great in curries, soups, hot chocolate, homemade ice cream, smoothies, cakes and pastries, coconut rice, and it’s also perfect for whipped cream.

A glass of coconut milk.

Coconut flour

When the coconut meat is blended and strained into coconut milk, the pulp is dried into coconut flour. This gluten-free and grain-free flour is widely used in Paleo dishes and low-carb diets.

Coconut flour is great for a variety of baked goods or can be used as a coating. Its high fiber content means you will need to use more liquid. For every tablespoon of coconut flour you add to the recipe, you will also need to use an extra tablespoon of liquid.

And how to make homemade coconut flour ?

  1. Remove the strained pulp from the coconut milk and spread it on a baking sheet.
  2. Bake at the lowest temperature in the oven until the pulp is completely dry, then blend it in a high-speed blender until smooth.
Coconut flour in a bowl and a hand holding a plate with flour, which she pours onto the table.

Coconut water

Coconut water is usually obtained from young coconuts because they contain a higher amount of water compared to mature coconuts.

Coconut water has a naturally sweet taste, so you can use it in pretty much any context you would use regular water. To preserve its health benefits, the best way to use it is in smoothies, juices and raw desserts, otherwise you can also use it in baking, soups and stews.

A glass of coconut water and fresh ripe coconuts placed next to it.

Shredded coconut

Shredded or desiccated coconut comes from coconut meat that has been shredded and then dried.

You can easily prepare it yourself :

  1. Grate the coconut meat using a grater.
  2. Dry in a dehydrator or oven on the lowest setting until completely dry (time will vary depending on the size of the ‘chunks’ but can take 2-3 hours in the oven and 6-8 hours in the dryer).

Add it to cookies, muffins, cakes, granola bars, muesli or even macaroons, sprinkle it on cereals, porridge, fruit or yogurt, you can also use it as breadcrumbs for tofu, fish or meat. It can also be added to smoothies, ice cream and hot chocolate.

Coconut shell filled with grated coconut.

Possible use of coconut in recipes

Have you ever tried coconut butter ? It is made by blending shredded coconut in a food processor until it forms a butter that is smooth and creamy.

Milan & Ondra

We are both fans of good food and enjoy cooking. On this website, we want to inspire you with traditional, but also less common recipes. We will be happy if you try our recipes and let us know how you liked them. Bon appetite! :)