March 12, 2011

There they are standing in a row . . .

(This is part of an ongoing series chronicling memories of my life growing up as a missionary kid in Vanuatu. For links to previous posts you can go here)

After you get a coconut from a tree (a green one, that you have just picked) then you can get started on getting into it.

To get the husk off a coconut you will need a special husker . . .basically a thick stick shaped into a point and stuck into the ground. Spike the coconut, between the husk and the hard coconut shell, then push so that the husk peels off the coconut. Continue this until all the husk is off the coconut.
(This photo is a great example of using a stick to peel an old coconut, the Follow the Road post has other photos of preparing coconut flesh)

At the top of the coconut there are three small circles, these are a softer part of the shell and are easy to dig out so that you can drink the juice. The juice is clear and a little tart – but very refreshing.There is nothing quite as refreshing as fresh coconut juice from a green coconut. Watch out not to get any of the juice on your clothes - it will leave a light brown stain that will never come out.
Apparently the juice is also full of lots of good things. Pa told me that during WW2 war hospitals in PNG used it as IV fluid when they ran out to rehydrate patients.

When the juice is finished you can open up the coconut to eat the thin slimy flesh. It’s no easy feat to open up the coconut. If you’re skilled you can hit it with the back of thick machete and split it in half. I liked to throw the coconut onto our cement veranda to break it. Several hard throws against the concrete was enough to crack the shell.
When a coconut gets older, it's skin goes brown. These are generally the coconuts that fall off a tree and lay on the ground. After taking the husk off (which is a great fire starting material) you open the coconut up. The juice has mostly gone, but now the flesh is thick and hard and tasts so creamy. You can either it eat as is, or grate it up to make coconut milk. This is the coconut flesh that is used to make desiccated coconut.

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