60. Bringing in the New Year with a BANG

Monday 12/27- It’s been a little bit over a week since we spoke to Jose, our cabinet maker. He has had a chance to draw up plans and we’ve had a chance to think more in detail about what exactly it is that we want. We met with him at the house today to take some more measurements and finalize the plans. Once it was all discussed and agreed upon, Jose asked when we needed it ready by? We told him that Geiner said the house would be ready for the cabinets at the end of January. This would give him a month to get everything built. He looked kind of nervous, and said he would do everything he can to get it done by then, but with New Years in there and the possibility that he wouldn’t be able to get his supplies as quickly as he sometimes does, he said he might need until the first week in February. We told him that we could work with that. Since he was doing everything from cabinets and closets, to doors, beds, night stands, tables, and chairs, we asked him to focus first on the

41. Coconuts

Previously I gave you a little bit of insight into what we know about coconuts. While they have a consistency similar to a nut, they are not an actual NUT! If you know someone who has a nut allergy, it’s pretty unlikely that they are also allergic to coconuts (unless they have a coconut allergy as well, and then that really sucks if they have to follow a diet like mine where nuts and coconut are used a lot). Due to my diet restrictions, I have learned that coconut flour is widely used in gluten free and low carb cooking and that coconut cream and coconut milk are used in place of dairy cream and milk. Coconut milk is NOT what comes out of the middle of the coconut when you crack it open, that is coconut water. The water can also be drank and is a fantastic recovery drink after hard workouts and if you are dehydrated because it is full of electrolytes. It is also so pure, that it is said that it can be used instead of IV saline solution (I’m not 100% sure how this works, so please don’t try this at home).

The green (or in some species of coconuts, yellowish orange) coconuts (pipas) are picked from a tree and rarely fall off on their own unless there is a storm or something that knocks them down. They have sweeter tasting coconut water and are a huge thing down here. They sell them cold (pipa fria) on the beach with a straw, they sell them in stands on the side of the road and they sell them in some shops and farmers markets. They just whack off the top of the coconut, put a straw in them, and hand them over.

They have maybe a cup of liquid in them or so, and the rest of it isn’t really good for anything any more except for maybe a cup for those fancy drinks you see served at the beach in movies. There is very little meat inside and it is soft and kind of slimy. You can scrape it out and eat it, but it isn’t very much, and some people may be very opposed to the texture.

The brown coconuts (cocos) also have coconut water inside of them, usually less than the green coconuts and it has a slightly different flavor but still good to drink. Both Ramie and I actually prefer the brown over the green coconuts. The brown coconuts are ones that have been left on the tree to mature and usually fall off on their own when they are “ready”. These are the ones that you get the coconut meat from that you can buy shredded for baking, dried in strips for snacks, or what they use in factories to make coconut cream, coconut milk, and coconut flour. 

Every day when we go for our walks we watch for newly fallen cocos and bring them back to the house with us to clean and eat as snacks. The learning curve for cleaning coconuts has been pretty steep. Lucky for us Jorge showed us that you have to remove the thick outer husk layer of the coconut before you get to the smaller hard shelled piece you are used to seeing in the grocery store. I can’t imagine what we would have thought if we tried to open one of these up without realizing there was this outer layer, we probably would have just thought they were bad and thrown them away!

So, I guess what I’m saying is we are working on becoming self-proclaimed experts on coconuts. 


Step 1: Remove the thick outer husk. There is a thick fibrous husk around the outside of what you are used to seeing as a coconut. This can either be taken off with a machete or the pointy end of a pick axe. You start by chopping through it in a couple of areas and then peeling it off. The small coconuts about the size of a baseball are much easier to de-husk than the large ones, and it’s amazing that 4 coco's of about baseball size will give you enough meat for a week's worth of snacking. Breeze likes to play with the husk and tear it apart into smaller hairy chunks. (She also likes eating the coconut almost as much as we do). This fiber can also be used in composting toilets, no we don’t have one of those, but it is something we were looking into when we were debating about buying a sailboat.



 

Using the point of a pick axe makes it much easier to de-husk, than using a machete. Not to mention safer!



Step 2: Drain out the coconut water. We started out by whacking it with a machete, and before it cracked all the way open, draining it out through a crack into a cooking pot. Ramie is now working smarter, not harder, by taking a drill and drilling 2 holes (a drain hole and a vent hole) that way you can drain it right into the cup you want to drink it out of. You get some fuzzy chunks from shell of the coconut in your cup, but it doesn’t bother us too much. 

 


Step 3: Crack it open. Now, he takes the machete and chops it open into smaller chunks so we can get at the meat inside. 


Step 4: Get the meat out. THIS is where the biggest learning curve has been evolving. Try number 1 when we did this we took knives, spoons, flat blade screwdrivers or anything else we thought would help and tried to cut and pry it out. This was a long tedious process, not to mention dangerous (I’m shocked neither one of us sliced ourselves open or stabbed ourselves). We also ended up with a lot of little tiny pieces.


There had to be a better way! So, google here I come! I learned that if you put the opened up coconut in the oven for a little while it made it a lot easier to get the meat out. Heck, anything is worth a try! Especially since we got these coconuts for free, so if we wreck a couple in the process it’s not like we wasted a ton of money. 

Try number 2, I baked them at 350* for about 10 minutes, then let them cool enough that I could handle them and tried to peel the coconut out. Wow, it was a lot easier! I was still ending up with smallish pieces, but I could use a butter knife instead of a sharp knife so I had a much lower chance of hurting myself this way. 

 
Try number 3 I did the same thing, but I ended up getting busy while the coconuts were in the oven, so they ended up in there about 20 minutes this time. Again- same thought as last time- if I wreck them, it’s not a huge loss. So, after I got them out of the oven and let them cool a little while I gave it a try. I noticed there was a little bit of browning around the edges of some of the pieces—I guess it was in there a little too long! I slid the knife between the edge of the meat and the shell just like I always do, and this time it just popped out so perfectly. Hmmmm… I kept going around the whole piece and wouldn’t you know it, I could get the whole piece of coconut meat off of the shell in 1 big piece. I think I discovered the secret! Oh, and the brownish pieces--- YUM!!! Talk about delicious toasted coconut. It added a whole new flavor and dang it was delish!! 


Currently we were opening and eating about 2-3 coconuts per week depending on what we found and how much we ate in the last few days. We got lots of practice opening and cleaning them! All of a sudden we had a hoard of coconuts building up that were falling off of the trees faster than we could eat them. At one point we had over 12 coconuts sitting on the veranda. I decided since we currently have an abundance to see what else I could do with these other than just eating them as a snack. 

I tried grating some up to make shredded coconut like you buy at the store. That was kind of slow and tedious, but what else do I have to do, right? This will be nice to have for adding to muffins or granola. I also put some into the blender to see if I could make coconut butter (I have heard about this, apparently it’s like peanut butter and you can just make it in a high power blender). Unfortunately, that didn’t work. I just ended up with something akin to damp coconut flour. That’s ok—I will try to make muffins out of this too! 

Now that we can get all of the meat out of the shell so cleanly, Ramie is saving some of the nice bowl shaped shells in the hopes that someday (once he gets his tools down here) he will be able to get crafty with them!

We are really enjoying all of our free coconuts and will really miss them when we leave this rental house! Maybe we’ll ask Jorge to save them for us and come pick them up once a week since no one else here seems to want them!! ☺

(Real-time note, I love the homemade coconut flour that was originally made by accident! It is way more versatile than coconut flour that you buy at the grocery store and I make almost all of my homemade muffins and breads out of it!)

 


 

Comments

  1. I love freah coconut
    I have to say I am a bit jealous of your bounty.
    The muffins look amazing! great job making and using the coconut flour.

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    1. A fellow coconut lover! It seems like some people love it and others... well.. don't! I sure am going to miss having free coconuts literally falling around me and all of the goodies I can make out of it!

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  2. So rustic and so adventurous. You amaze me. Love your articles

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    1. <3 Thanks so much!! Rustic and adventurous are our new way of life here! We are enjoying it! :)

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  3. The instructions you have so succinctly explained to us will make it easier to eviscerate the coconuts when they fall off the trees in the condo we will be at in two days. Your instructions come at just the right time but I will have to figure out a way to get them open as Edie will not let me have any sharp instruments, something about hurting myself, how foolish! Perhaps if I put one in a microwave it may open up for me. I am sure Edie will send you photos of the resulting justification of her refusal to my using a knife as well as my proving I should be no where near a kitchen.
    I continue to revel in the intestinal fortitude that you two have shown in this adventure. many people would not even think of doing this and you are showing that anything can be done with a little courage, faith in one's mate and seeing many accomplishments as a result.
    I am really anxious to see construction start on your house and to see how construction techniques and materials vary. Please keep up the good work, do not become discouraged as you have learned, persevered and succeeded in all you have done so far. Buenos Dias!

    Ken
    Ken

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    1. Thanks so much Ken! I don't know for certain, but I think putting a coconut in the microwave for any significant length of time could cause catastrophic issues-- but if you try it, please let us know!! Maybe you can join forces with a neighbor who is slightly more careful with sharp objects.
      We had the courage to get here, now we are learning to have the patience to stay. The adventure is a roller coaster but we figured that would be the case and are taking all of the downs with the ups.
      Future blog posts are in the making regarding the construction, all in due time. We can't just throw the exciting things out right away, we need to keep our readers in suspense!! ;) Safe travels to Mazatlan, meanwhile try to stay warm for a few more days!

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  4. Wow! Amazing you guys! Those muffins look delicious!! Chad and I have watched all seasons of Survivor, so a lot of this we have seen before, but I bet they wish they had an oven! LOL! Great job on the blog, keep it up!!

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    1. Thanks so much!! I don't know how those people on Survivor do it with so few tools, maybe if they just throw the whole unopened coconut into the fire it could help? Thank you for continuing to follow along with our adventures!

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  5. That looks amazing! I love coconut! nice job chef Dana!

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    1. Hopefully we'll be able to get our hands on some fresh ones when you guys come down to visit!!

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