Source: BBC News
Consumed in moderation, this ingredient can benefit your health and help fight infection…
Coconut (Cocos nucifera) belongs to the Palm family (Arecaceae). Grown in abundance in Malaysia, Polynesia and southern Asia, Spanish explorers named the cocos – meaning ‘grinning face’, because of the three little eyes on the base which they thought resembled a monkey.
Classed as a fruit and frequently confused for being a nut, the coconut is actually a one-seeded drupe. In Sanskrit, the coconut palm is known as kalpa vriksha – ‘tree which gives all that is necessary for living’ because nearly all parts can be used, the water, milk, flesh, sugar and oil. Even the husks and leaves are used as materials in furnishings and decoration. Palm trees produce coconuts up to 13 times a year and although it takes a year for the coconuts to mature, a fully blossomed tree can produce between 60-180 coconuts in a single harvest.
How it’s made
Creamed coconut and coconut milk are made in a way surprisingly akin to their dairy counterparts. Coconut flesh (the white part) is grated and soaked in hot water. The coconut cream rises to the top and can be skimmed off. The remaining liquid is squeezed through a cheesecloth to extract a white liquid that is coconut milk. By repeating this process, the coconut milk becomes thinner. The thicker version is used for desserts and rich sauces. Thin coconut milk is used for cooking curries and soups. In the UK, fresh coconut milk is unavailable and coconut milk is bought in cans.