When you think of Thailand, you often think about the blue sky, sandy beach with coconut trees, and you enjoying Thai coconut water during your vacation. Coconuts are always in the picture of Thailand’s famous beaches. There is an abundance of coconuts in Thailand, in fact, according to the office of agricultural economics, Thailand produces over 500 million coconuts every year. In general, Thai people distinguish coconuts as young coconut (to be consumed fresh) or coconuts for coconut milk (to be used for cooking). In this article, we will be focusing on our experience with young coconut and Thai coconut water.
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Fresh young coconuts and coconut trees
You most likely have seen coconut trees when you visit a beach, postcard, or in a movie, so coconut trees themselves do not need any introduction. However, fresh young coconuts may not be as well-known. In fact, some people think fresh young coconuts are green in color, some think they are white in color.
Both are correct, young coconuts are covered by thin, green skin. Underneath the green skin, is a thick white fiber layer which is protecting a hard shell containing young coconut meat and young coconut water. Beware though, after you cut off coconuts’ green skins, the white layer underneath can turn brownish color if left for too long (unless some chemical is involved in the process).
Young coconut meat, Thai coconut water and calories
Young coconut transforms as they ripen. Depending on where the coconut is within the stage of this process, the amount/tenderness of young coconut meat and the taste of coconut water will vary.
- Very young: contain a thin layer of coconut meat. The meat is almost transparent, smooth, and even softer than jelly. Very young coconuts are suitable for those who like to enjoy soft young coconut meat. However, the coconut water here may contain a hint of sourness and not as sweet as slightly more ripe young coconuts
- Slightly more ripe: as young coconuts develop further, their meat becomes whiter and thicker. While the meat is thicker and less soft, it’s still nice and enjoyable. The best part about slightly more ripe young coconut is its water which is sweeter and more fragrant
- Ripe, older coconuts: contain a thick layer of white, harder coconut meat. Coconut water will taste sweet and can still be enjoyed
Young coconut calories
Young coconut calories – according to Mahidol University in Thailand:
- 100 grams of young coconut water provides 16 kcal. It is mostly water with 3.9g of carb and 0.1g of protein
- 100 grams of young coconut meat provides 81 kcal. While it is mostly water, it also contains 5.9g of fat, 3.8g of carb, 3.2g of fiber, and 1.8g of protein
- One young coconut can weigh anywhere between ~250 to 400g
How to open a young coconut
When you are purchasing a young coconut in Thailand, you will most likely find 1) fully unpeeled, whole coconut, 2) partially peeled coconut, or 3) completely peeled coconut.
Fully unpeeled, whole coconuts are not commonly sold at shops without the shopkeepers offering to peel and open them for you. However, if you happen to have one either from a shop or from your own coconut tree, the best way to go is to turn an unpeeled coconut into partially peeled or completely peeled coconut.
Unpeeled coconuts from our own coconut tree.
Partially peeled coconuts
- Bottom part: a shallow cut to make a flat surface, this is mostly to ensure that the coconut can easily sit on the table surface
- Top part: a deeper cut to make a low, pointy dome shape, leaving a thin white layer behind. This process serves two purposes 1) it will be easy to cut the young coconut open later on 2) it will be easier to reach for coconut meat later on using a spoon
- Once the 2 steps above are completed, you can proceed to cut the coconut open using a large size knife (the heavier the better). What you want to do is to make a deep cut in a square shape on the top part. Once done, you will have successfully make an openable “cap” to the coconut
Completely peeled coconuts
Completely peeled coconuts are smaller and lighter. They are also much easier to open. To open a completely peeled young coconut – you can simply use the backside of any heavy knife to “crack” the hard coconut shell. The best practice is to do this from the top and make a square shape cap to open your coconut.
Once a young coconut is opened, you would want to use a straw to enjoy young coconut water first. Once finished, coconut meat can be spooned out.
Completely peeled coconuts are characterized by the round coconut shell – they are much easier to open and can be further processed into roasted coconuts.
How do you love your coconuts?
We love Thai coconut water and young coconuts can easily be found in Thailand (especially central and southern parts).
Thailand is a hot country, so having a cold young coconut can really make a difference on a hot day (or any day really). It is a much better (and natural) alternative to your soda drinks! Coconuts are very healthy too, but you still need to consume them in moderation (just like all Thai fruits or drink and anything in this world).
Check out our other posts about Thailand:
- Coconut ice cream in shell: cooling Thai coconut dessert
- Thai coconut cake and other traditional coconut desserts
- Thai durian: the tree, the fruit, and the desserts
- Thai mangosteen: the tree, the fruit, and how to consume
- Should you work remotely in Thailand?
- Thai tea recipes: learn about Thai tea / how to make them