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Coconut From A to Z: 26 Interesting Things to Know

Coconut From A to Z: 26 Interesting Things to Know

It's one of the most versatile fruits you can have in your kitchen, and it's good for your nutrition too! Here are 26 interesting coconut facts and figures.

By FDL on

Apical bud. The edible “heart of palm” – also known as “palm cabbage” obtained from a fully grown tree is used to make the so-called “millionaire’s salad”: a prized delicacy since its harvesting kills the tree.

Butter. The term “butter coconut” may refer to solidified coconut oil or to special products deriving from solidified coconut milk, or even a sort of paste made from coconut flesh puréed and mixed with oil.

Coir. This is the fibrous material– lightweight densely packed woody fibres – to be found between the hard, internal shell and the outer coat of a coconut. This is what enables the coconut to float; it is extremely waterproof and one of the few natural fibres resistant to salt water. There is a considerable market demand for coir.

Drupe. Coconut is not actually a nut: it is a drupe, that is to say a fleshy fruit containing a single hard seed.

Essence. Not only an excellent ingredient for use in cooking and the preparation of cocktails: when added to milk it makes a delectable artificial coconut milk!

Fido's birthday. Would you like to make a birthday cake for your dog? Replace wheat flour with coconut flour to avoid any problem of canine food intolerance.

Great Britain. Great Britain is mad about coconut: the consumption of coconut oil – practically unheard of by most of the population until a few years ago – has doubled annually for the past three years; coconut water is the fastest growing soft drink in the country. And the start-ups associated with these products are springing up like mushrooms.

Head. The word “coconut” derives from the Spanish word “coco”, meaning “head”, “skull” or “face” (that of a monkey) owing to the three notches (eyes) on its hairy shell.

Indonesia. Coconut is a fundamental ingredient of Indonesian cuisine. Rendang, a dish from the island of Sumatra which topped the 2011 ranking of the “World's 50 Most Delicious Foods (Readers' Pick)” by the CNN (a survey carried out among 35,000 people), is a caramelized beef curry cooked in coconut milk.

Jaggery. A traditional unrefined sugar, usually sold in truncated conical blocks, is mainly produced from cane juice and date palm, but also from coconut palm. Kopyor. A coconut mutant which grows wild in some countries such as Indonesia. It has an abnormal development of the endosperm or coconut flesh, which becomes soft and jelly-like.

Lorenzo. Most people associate coconut palms with the Caribbean. In actual fact, the first coconut palms came from the Pacific and Far East and were planted in Porto Rico in 1625 by a priest called Diego Lorenzo.

Milk. Coconut milk is totally different from coconut water and is obtained by pressing grated coconut to extract a juice, which may be filtered with our without water. Once the milk has been extracted and left to settle in a cool place, the “coconut cream” will separate from the liquid and rise to the surface.

Neera. Also called palm nectar or “sweet toddy”, it is extracted from the inflorescence of the plant. It is highly nutritious with a deliciously sweet taste and will start to ferment after just a few hours at ambient temperature, to become “toddy”, or palm wine.

Oil. Coconut oil is extracted from the copra, that is to say the pulp of the kernel, dried to a greater or lesser extent. Apart from its use in cooking, coconut oil is also a health and beauty multitasker: from dental hygiene to eyelash extension, from hair care to raising the metabolic rate.

Palm. The botanical name of the coconut palm is Cocus Nucifera, one of the ten most important plants on our planet; it can usually live for as long as 80 years or more.

Quezon. This is the Philippine province which produces most 'Lambanóg' or “coconut vodka”. It is distilled from the sap of unopened coconut flowers and has a particularly high alcohol content, in the range of 40 to 45°.

Rice. Coconut oil reduces the calorie intake of rice by 50-60%. This amazing finding has emerged from a survey carried out recently by the College of Chemical Sciences in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Just add a spoonful of coconut oil when cooking the rice and leave it to rest 12 hours before serving. This method actually increases the concentration of resistant starch, the part that normally escapes digestion in the small intestine and turns into glucose.

Sugar. This is one of the ingredients – together with salt, propylene glycol and sodium metabisulfite – frequently added to dessicated coconut: so shredded dessicated coconut is often more than just coconut.

Tender. Like many plant shoots, newly germinated coconuts contain a fluff produced by the endosperm to nourish the developing embryo. Going under the name of coconut sprouts, the fluff is tender and edible with a marshmallow-like consistency.

Uruttu chanmanti. This is a type of coconut chutney prepared in Southern India. It may vary in density and the spices it contains will very much depend on its region of origin. However, it almost always includes chilli pepper, ginger and shallots.

Vietnamese candy. Delicious Vietnamese cuisine depends heavily on coconut. Among its various specialities, 'Kẹo dừa' or coconut candy is mainly to be found in the Bến Tre province, also known as “land of coconuts”.

Water. Contained in young coconuts, coconut water is rich in vitamins, mineral salts and other nutrients, which make it an ideal natural drink – of growing popularity - for those who practise sports or just need to rehydrate. It is also good for the circulation and digestion, as well as protecting the cardiovascular and immune systems. Invaluable during pregnancy, it helps maintain amniotic fluid volumes.

Xylose. A sugar extracted from wood and coconut shells. It is a sweetener with a low glycemic index (35 compared to 50 of Muscovado brown sugar and 80 of refined sugar). It is a raw material for xylitol, a widely used ingredient for chewing gum, sweeteners, confectionery and toothpaste.

Yeast. Coconut palm oil is used instead of yeast for making the traditional bread served for breakfast in the Indian state of Kerala, the extremely soft 'appam' bread which, when prepared with toddy, is called 'kallappam' - “kallu” being the name for toddy.

Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club. With its century-long history, this is the largest African-American carnival organization of New Orleans, particularly famous for the painted coconuts it throws during the Mardi Gras parade.

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