The English name coconut, first mentioned in English print in 1555, comes from Spanish and Portugese word coco, which means “monkey face.” Spanish and Portugese explorers found a resemblance to a monkey’s face in the three round indented markings or “eyes” found at the base of the coconut. On the Nicobar Islands of the Indian Ocean, whole coconuts were used as currency for the purchace of goods until the early part of the twentieth century. Coconuts are the fruit of the coconut palm, botanically known as cocos nucifera, with nucifera meaning “nut-bearing.”
So you want a young Thai coconut?
I have heard about these coconuts for years and their health benefits. In fact, I am in Thailand and I tasted coconuts water for the past week with some disappointment. The water often has a low point, a kind of dull taste in the middle of the palate. The taste seems stale but how can a fresh coconut be stale. Well, it is a puzzle, so I continued to pursue the topic.
Now let me tell you my story. I arrived to my villa and ordered a fresh coconut water. The chef removed a coconut, a white shaved pre-cut skin from the fridge and hacked off the top. I drank it. Then I said, “wait a minute”, why are you buying these pre-cut coconuts when we can buy fresh. So off we went to the local market. We looked around and found not goods. I was surprised but coconuts are not easy to come-by.
The next day, we jumped into our car and drove twenty minutes to a vendor at the roadside. We picked up a stash of green coconuts on the branch. Once we arrived home, we iced them down. Later that day, the staff told me, “Khun J, the coconuts are not fresh enough, we are so sorry”.
I was caught off guard and investigated the topic further. I learned an important little fact, from Khun Ohm, which is, when you pick up a coconut and shake it, it shouldn’t have any sound. If there is noise from the water rustling around, the coconut is old. But old is a relative term, but if fresh Thai coconut is what you are after, you need to buy the young coconuts that are on the tree at the top of the bunch and not at the bottom.These are young and fresh!
So what is the big difference? The difference is really very different. The old coconut’s water is dull and the flesh is hard and white. These are the old coconuts. The young coconut’s flesh is totally different, as seen in the photo below. It is wet, translucent and slimy, while the old coconut is hard and like the usual flesh you find after you crack open an old coconut.
I suppose the difference in taste is likely due to the aging process of the young white wet flesh which transforms into the hard white flesh/ During this stage, the water evaporates and or is absorbed into the shell and the water gets stale.
After hearing that young Thai coconut’s might be soaked in formaldehyde, to make them more white. It is said that it can leak into the water so use your own judgement when drinking coconut water.
In terms of white Thai coconuts and their freshness, I would only drink them locally and forget the idea of those pre-cut packaged so-called fresh, that are being sold in foreign countries.