If you could only have one food in the world, what would you pick? My choice would definitely be coconut (Cocos nucifera). If the coconut is a young green one, then you would get water out of it that is loaded with electrolytes and jelly to eat. If the coconut is hard and mature, then you would get coconut milk and meat out of it. Both young and mature coconuts can be used for kindling. There must be hundreds, maybe thousands, of uses for the coconut fiber (coir). My friend from India said that her family used the fiber as a cleaning scrubber for their pots and pans.
One year when I was living in Grand Cayman, a bad flu made its way around the island. A friend of mine was so sick that he had to go to the hospital. They hooked him up to an I.V. with coconut water. He said the electrolytes cured his dehydration and he felt much better afterward.
Immature, green coconuts are usually filled with a light flavored coconut water, not milk. Sometimes the coconut meat inside has not hardened yet and it has a jelly texture. The jelly has a sweet flavor. Sometimes the young coconut is referred to as a jelly coconut or a water coconut. Most people in the Caribbean carry straws with them in their glove compartments so they can stop for a water coconut. The coconut man is always extremely skilled with his machete and can cut the coconut in the blink of an eye. A hole is cut in the top and you put your straw in and suck it down. When you’re done drinking the water, the coconut man will usually ask you if you want the jelly. If you do, he cuts the coconut in half and slices off a coconut spoon to get the jelly out. This coconut water is so unbelievably delicious. Many people have been trying to figure out how to put fresh coconut water in a container to sell it commercially. I can only imagine how many people have exclaimed, “if I could just bottle this” after drinking a fresh water coconut. It usually needs a serious preservative, but there’s a couple of companies recently that seemed to have figured out how to keep it natural. It is expensive though! They probably wouldn’t be able to handle the demand if they lowered their prices. Vito Coco, and One are two brands I’ve tried that don’t use preservatives. I still check the label every time I buy one.
When coconuts fall off the tree, they can sprout and start a new tree. So, they are actually a seed (inside the shell). We grew a coconut palm in our yard that still had the husk attached to the bottom of it. It grew wonderfully for a few years but it couldn’t handle our cold temperatures in zone 9b this past winter. I was actually thankful it died as a small tree because they can grow to 60 feet. My neighbors have several huge coconut palms planted around their home (for about 13 years) and have successfully kept them alive each year by pointing heated lights on the trees during freezing temperatures. They get an enormous amount of coconuts off them each year and they always share with us. However, they own a really nice machine that allows them to do this with minimal effort. It also allows them to take the coconuts off their trees when a hurricane is coming.
For now, we’ll just have to deal with no coconut palms of our own. For those of you that have them… I hope you know just how lucky you are!
Come grow with us!