Having grown up in the Caribbean I have the track record to boast many years of experience with these delicious, nutritious, and versatile seeds, so let’s get cracking!
On my home island of St.Croix, most people overlook the surplus of coconuts falling from the many trees throughout the neighborhoods and rural areas. Throwing them into the trash or brush piles as waste. Sad, though I for one did not mind, as I quickly formulated a habit of driving around and collecting as many dry, mature coconuts as I could manage. What did I do with all these coconuts you might ask?
Alright, I’ll admit it, I was not plotting to take over the world with a diabolical device made of hundreds of coconuts as you may have suspected. Though, I was very busy in my home laboratory cracking and experimenting with what I estimate to have been in the thousands of coconuts by the end of my run. I made coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut candy, coconut spread, you name it I made it. I even experimented with making coconut cheese! Similar to the way you make fresh Paneer. But the coconut cream fat was less cohesive and mostly fell apart. Side note, I left massive piles of coconut husks at a few of my residences, I must confess.
Hold on now, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself though, so let’s take a step back. There are many different varieties of coconuts, some are yellow, some green, and some orange with many variations and shades in between. These different colors do not change from one to another as the coconut develops. Rather, the respective varieties all only change from its inherent color to a brownish gray outer layer or husk once fully mature and dry. Young or immature coconuts are harvested for the coconut water that, in recent years, has become all the rave in health food markets. The coconut jelly is also quite delicious, and can only be found in the immature to middle stages of the coconuts development. As the coconut reaches full maturity, this jelly becomes the thick flesh inner layer of the coconut from which the milk, oil and many other coconut products are made. In its mature stage, the coconut encasing is the very tough outer layer known as the husk. This husk protects the seed within and gives the coconut buoyancy in water. This is how the coconut disperses its seed as they float and are taken all around the world via ocean currents.
Now, it is typical to de-husk a mature coconut with a machete in the islands. However, there is another method I’m aware of that I will also share with you. In the Polynesian islands, natives use a traditional method in which a sharpened stick is buried in the ground with the pointy end facing upward. The mature coconut is thrown against this spear and wrenched in order to remove the husk.
Ok, so now that we got a bit of the basics down, let’s have a look at the coconut from the Ayurvedic perspective. Coconut has a sweet taste (Rasa), Cooling energy (Virya) and a Sweet post-digestive effect (Vipaka). Coconut pacifies Vata and Pita, but in large amounts, may aggravate Kapha. In general, the action on the doshas is to help mucous secretions.
What is even more interesting is what we find when we take a look at the Sanskrit name for the coconut and the meaning. Kalpa Vriksha. “Kalpa’’, brakes down to mean, “all the necessities of life” and “Vriksha”, means Tree. Tree of All that is necessary for Life. Sounds about right, The Coconut.
*Suggested uses for coconut milk: Try it in Smoothies, Hot Chocolate, Coffee or Chai Tea. Baking, In a pot of rice, your breakfast cereals, or in place of heavy cream for a delicious Vegan Alfredo.
Article prepared by –
Bale-Shabaka Kaza- Amlak