by Sherry Brooks
Coconut water is refreshing and has been marketed in recent years as an energy boosting natural sports drink because of the high level of minerals and potassium.
When you exercise or play sports heavily, you lose electrolytes, such as potassium as you sweat. These electrolytes need to be replaced and beverages, such as coconut water can do just that.
Popular beverages packaged from the clear, almost sweet liquid of young Thai coconuts can be pretty expensive.
It is just as easy and a lot more affordable to buy a fresh young Thai coconut. You may have seen these large, husked white, young coconuts at the market.
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Young Thai Coconuts have a creamy white husk that encloses a hard brown shell, which protects the coconut meat and liquid inside. Choose young coconuts with firm husks that have no soggy spots, cracks or dark mold.
The liquid is called coconut water in both young and mature coconuts, but becomes bitter in the older coconut as the flesh thickens. Coconut milk is the water pressed from the meat of the mature coconut.
You can pop a straw into a fresh young coconut and some markets, including Whole Foods, will open the tops of several and cover them in cling wrap so that you can keep them in the refrigerator for later.
After you drink the delicious coconut water don't forget to eat the soft, custard-like flesh inside. Make sure the opening that the market cut into the top is large enough for a spoon to reach inside.
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It is easy to open a young coconut at home. This is the method I once learned from a Fiji local, where these young coconuts are ubiquitous.
Place the flat bottom side down on a cutting board. If your counter is tile, place the cutting board on a dishtowel on the floor so that you do not crack the tile from the force of the blow.
With one arm behind your back, so that there is no chance of injuring yourself, hold a cleaver in the other hand and make a strong chop into the top of the coconut. Do not do this when you are wearing fine clothing because it may splash on impact.
Next, make one more opening gash so that a vacuum will not form if you pour the liquid into your blender.
You can have the coconut water by itself or blend it with other fruits, such as frozen bananas, pineapple and the tender flesh for a pina-colada like treat.
These young coconuts have very little meat. The fastest way get to the flesh is to put the drained coconut back onto the cutting board, put your free hand behind your back, and whack the coconut with the cleaver again, until it splits into two halves.
Sometimes the flesh is more gel-like and all you can do is carefully spoon it into the blender or your mouth. More often, while still gelatinous the flesh of a young Thai coconut is almost firm.
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Rinse off the husk bits that got on the coconut meat while you where whacking it with a cleaver. You may use a spoon to scoop it out, but it may be faster to pry off large sections using something wide, like a putty knife or the handle of a large spoon.
Enjoy this delightful treat knowing that it is biodegradable, twice as large yet half the price of its packaged and pasteurized (therefore heated and enzyme lacking) version.
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