The coconut is not really a nut but actually the largest seed on earth. The word coconut is derived from the Spanish and Portuguese coco meaning ‘monkey face’ relating to the 3 ‘eyes’ on its base resembling a monkey’s face.
Coconut water is now found canned and marketed as a sports drink, but coconut water has long been a popular tropical drink. The fat free, low calorie, coconut water is high in potassium and minerals that help the body recover from strenuous exercise. But the thin opaque water inside the fresh young green coconut quickly loses its nutritional benefits when exposed to air and begins to ferment. In some places the water is allowed to ferment to produce vinegar to be bottled. The taste of the water varies from country to country; Indian coconuts have a slightly salty flavor and Thai coconuts are sweeter.
The fruit bearing palms are native to Malaysia and southern Asia but now grow in many corners of the world due to its light fibrous husk that allows it to drift across the seas to set its seed. It then takes a year for each coconut to mature, but as they bloom around 13 times a year the fruit continually forms with one tree producing an average of 60 coconuts per annum
Replacing coconut milk in many recipes will result in a lighter version of the dish, for example coconut rice. It will also enhance many cocktail recipes with its delicate almondy flavor and a natural affinity to both light and dark rum. It is also fat and cholesterol free and very low in calories which is always a plus at this time of year. When buying a fresh coconut, a quick shake will determine how much water is inside by a ‘splashing’ sound, for as a coconut ages the water absorbs into its flesh.
Interestingly, coconut water is naturally sterile and due to its ph, mineral, and sugar content coconut water has been used successfully as liquid in intravenous therapy in emergency situations including the 1941 -1945 Pacific war.
"Coconut water is the very stuff of nature, biologically pure, full of natural sugars, salts, and vitamins to ward off fatigue... and is the next wave of energy drinks BUT natural!", according to Martin Satin, former Chief of the United Nation's Food & Agriculture Organization.
Photos courtesy of flickr - coconutrecipe, ckandi007, chooyutshing and chaucircat