Kate Heyhoe

Kate's Global Kitchen

Tropical Fruits Month:
Coconut Crazy
Global Ingredient Profile

by Kate Heyhoe


He who plants a coconut tree plants food and drink, vessels and clothing, a heat source, habitation for himself and a heritage for his children.
A South Seas saying, from Norman Van Aken's The Great Exotic Fruit Book.

Coconut Crazy  
Coconut has been called the most useful tree in the world. Rope, soap, wine, textiles, baskets, cups and bowls, medicines and boat and building materials—all are byproducts of the versatile coconut palm. The fruit of the coconut tree is equally as versatile, producing a wide range of cooking ingredients.

The brown, hairy coconuts sold in western markets are not what you see growing on a tree. The coconut "nut," the item commonly sold in western markets, is actually a drupe: a fruit with a hard stone (cherries and peaches are also drupes). But you must go through several layers before reaching the nut.

The coconut layers start with an outer shell that is smooth and ivory or gray when ripe. Beneath that lies a brown, hairy husk of loose, coarse fibers. This husky layer covers a hard, brown woody shell, with a small triangle of three indented "eyes." Under this layer is a thin brown skin, which protects the interior kernel, where the white coconut meat and juicy liquid center reside.

The coconut palm is believed to hail from Malaysia and now grows throughout the Pacific Rim, India, parts of Africa, the Caribbean and South America.


Coconut Products

Be sure to know your coconut products, as cooking with the wrong ingredient can result in an unintended or surprising dish.


Coconut Cooking Tips

Now that you've got the basics down, it's time to go coco-loco!

Kate Heyhoe


Coconut Recipes:

Coconut Chips
Coconut Milk, Brazilian Style
Coconut Shrimp with Easy Peanut Sauce
Lemongrass Coconut Rice
Shrimp Stew, Bahian Style
Grilled Coconut Poundcake


Kate's Global Kitchen for June, 2000:

Tropical Fruits Month continues with:
06/03/00—Pineapple Express
06/10/00—Coconut Crazy
06/17/00—Tangy Tamarind
06/24/00—Mango Madness

Copyright © 2000, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.

Current Kate's Global Kitchen
Kate's Global Kitchen Archive

This page created June 2000