The coconut probably had its beginning in the Malay Archipelago and the tropical areas of the Americas. For over 3,000 years the coconut has been cultivated in Southern Asia and the East Indian islands. Now, the coconut palm may be found all along the tropical coasts, and its fruit is used as the principal food on many of the Pacific islands. It has been estimated that over 300,000 people use coconuts in some form every day, and the old saying: "He who plants a coconut tree plants vessels and clothing, food and drink, a habitation for himself and a heritage for his children," still holds true in many of the places where coconuts are grown today. The coconut tree reaches its maturity at seven years and produces its fruit for as many as seventy or eighty years.
The coconuts sold in our markets today are imported mostly from Honduras, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. There is some production on the Florida coast, but most of the nuts produced there are sold on the local market to winter tourists. One coconut is imported for each eleven persons in the United States, so you can see that it is one of the minor items in the produce business.
Coconuts may be found on the market all year, but October, November, and December are the peak months. A quality nut is one that is heavy for its size. When shaken, the liquid inside will slosh around. Do not choose a coconut without liquid, as this indicates spoilage, and nuts with moldy or wet "eyes" are unsound.
To crack a coconut, pierce the soft spots, or "eyes," at the top of the shell with an ice pick or other sharp object. Drain the liquid, then tap all around the hard shell with a hammer until the shell cracks and falls away. Or, after draining off the liquid, heat the coconut in the oven at 350° F for thirty minutes, and the shell will easily break away.
Benefits of Coconut
Coconuts are 70 percent fat. They should be eaten flaked, as a topping in salads. Coconut may also be used in nut butter, or liquefied, to get the milk out of it. It may also be used in combination with other vegetable and fruit juices.
Coconut milk compares to mother's milk in its chemical balance. It is quite a complete protein food when taken in its natural form. Coconut milk is made from the nut itself, by liquefying the meat. The water we get when we open up the coconut is not the milk and does not have a very high mineral content.
Nutrients in one pound (meat only)
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