Are coconuts a fruit or a nut? Do I eat coconuts? Do I drink coconuts? Should I use coconut oil in cooking? In my hair? On my skin? Should I really put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up?
Coconuts seem to have taken on an important role in commercial utilization in the Western world. Go into your local grocery store and you’ll find coconut milk, coconut oil for cooking, coconut oil hair masks and skin care amongst various other coconut-based products. And obviously our very own Coconut Cookies(linked) utilize organic coconuts from (insert name of farm) to ensure that our delicious snacks are packed with the best flavor and nutritious benefits. You may know that coconut has many health benefits when properly integrated into one’s lifestyle, but today we are going to break down for you exactly what a coconut is, how they’re harvested and processed and why we, at Emmy’s Organics, love a good coconut.
What is a Coconut?
She’s a tough nut to crack, folks! Despite its misleading name, a coconut is actually a fruit of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). It is probable that the coconut originated somewhere in or around the Indo-Malaya region, as it is a very crucial crop of the tropics.
What are the Different Parts of the Coconut?
Coconuts are the all-purpose fruit with multiple uses for every leaf, trunk, husk and shell that are harvested. The 5 main parts of the coconut that we’ll be exploring are; the coir, meat, water, husks and shells.
Coir: The coir is a natural elastic fiber that can be pulled from the husks. Need a new doormat? The coir can be used to make items such as doormats, ropes or strings, stuffing for a mattress, amongst other fiber needs.
Coconut Meat: The meat of it all - coconut meat is the powerhouse of the coconut and can be used in a variety of ways. The coconut meat is what makes the oil, the milk, the toddy and nectar and coconut sap which can further be processed to make products such as palm wine, sweet syrup and coconut/palm sugar.
Coconut Water: Drink up, baby! This is a refreshing, nutrient packed drink comparable to a high-performance athlete’s drink.
Husks: Need a cute pot for the plant you impulsively bought at the farmer’s market? A husk can be used for that! Husks and shells, combined can also be used as fuel as they are a source of charcoal. They are also handy at repelling mosquitos and other insects when burned.
Shells: Last but certainly not least is the shell, which can be used to create bowls and utensils and can even be used as the body for some musical instruments. Did you forget your body exfoliator on your tropical island getaway? No worries, when you grind down the shell of a coconut it becomes a sweet smelling, gentle exfoliator!
How Does a Coconut Grow?
With love and affection, and a bucket of lukewarm water. A coconut grows on a tree, and while that may sound intimidating - it is actually surprisingly easy to grow a coconut tree at home and watch the process first-hand! (link an article about growing a coconut tree). As for our commercially grown coconuts - instead of growing on plantations like most tropical fruits - coconuts are grown by landowners on small commercial farms. Once a coconut palm reaches 4-6 years of age is when they begin producing flowers. These flowers can be male or female and are located on different points of the branchlets. Once the flowers are germinated is when small round green seeds begin flourishing from the female flowers and will later become a full-blown coconut!
How are Coconuts Harvested?
With lots of hard work! As opposed to other tropical fruits that are often grown on large plantations, coconuts can often be found growing on the farms of relatively small landowners. On a commercial farm, the coconut is harvested by either climbing the tree using a rope or a power operated ladder. The fruit is then tapped with a knife to test for maturity. If the coconuts pass the tap test then the stalk is cut down and dropped to the ground or lowered using a rope and the harvest is complete!
Read more at Gardening Know How: When Are Coconuts Ripe: Do Coconuts Ripen After They Are Picked https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/fruits/coconut/when-are-coconuts-ripe.htm
How are Coconuts Processed?
The way a coconut is processed is dependent on what part of the coconut the processor is trying to get to. Are they making coconut oil? Coconut flour? Coconut water? The most common type of processing includes dehydration or the drying of the coconut in order to extract coconut oil and use the meat of the coconut for millet products.
All the Reasons Why we Love Coconuts!