Villa Quetzal

Villa Quetzal

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Coconut" The All-Inclusive Gift from Mother Nature

         Before we came to Costa Rica, all I knew about coconuts was how much I enjoyed the delicious macaroons I used to buy at the store, and the canned coconut milk required to cook some of my favorite recipes.  After living in Costa Rica for many years, I came to realize there is much more to the coconut than just sweet treats.  It is very normal to think that there are several types of coconuts; however, there is only one species of coconut plant, and its scientific name is Cocos nucifera; only this type of palm tree produces coconuts.  The interesting thing is that within this species, there are dozens of varieties of coconuts. 

To make it a little simpler, let’s say that there are two main groups: tall and dwarfs.

Tall coconuts, also called typical, is the most common group, its Polynesian name is Nui Kafa; they can cross-pollinate, which opens the door for many variations in the characteristics of the fruit.  They can grow between 65 and 100 feet high, and have a canopy up to 30 feet across.  They have a swollen base known as bole.  The fruit has an oblong and an angular shape; they hold a small amount of water, but produce a double amount of meat than the dwarf ones.  Their husk is very fibrous, allowing them to float extremely well; that is the reason why over the years; they have been great commuters, traveling from Polynesia to every shore in the world.  

          Dwarf coconuts, also called nana, and its Polynesian name is Nui Vai; they are mostly self-pollinated; therefore, there is a lesser number of varieties within this group.  They produce more fruit than the Tall coconut trees.  The fruit is usually smaller, round, and features bright colors like green, yellow, and sometimes golden color with reddish tone when they are young; they have an abundance of sweet water, but half the volume of meat than the tall ones.  The meat in the very young coconuts looks like custard.  Their husk is much thinner than the ones produced by the tall coconut tree.  The trunks are slender, and lack the swelling around the base (bole) that characterizes the tall ones.  Dwarf trees mature faster than the tall trees; they tend to germinate sooner; which means they do not spread to other shores the way the tall coconuts do. 

        Several studies have found that most coconuts belong to one of the two genetically distinct groups.  The population of tall coconuts had its origins along the Indian Ocean coastline, and the dwarf population developed in the Pacific, from the Malay Peninsula to New Guinea.  The species were domesticated in both places, and since then, a lot of crossbreeding of the two strains has taken place.

        Dwarf coconuts; tend to be used for “eating fresh,” and the tall forms for coconut oil and fiber.

Both, tall and dwarf coconuts are usually named by their country of origin.  On many occasions, the color of the young fruit is included in its name.  The varieties of the young coconuts come in three colors: green, yellow, and red, all coconuts no matter the color when they are young turn brown when they mature.

          In many tropical countries like Costa Rica, street vendors sell the young coconut with the top cut off, cold, and with the straw, they call it “agua pipa” or coconut water, it makes a deliciously refreshing drink.
          It is quite interesting to notice the coconut is one of the amazing creations of Mother Nature.  This plant has been on earth for centuries.  Always available to feed, cloth, and provide shelter and utensils to anyone willing to explore its numerous qualities.
          The young coconuts provide sweet water full of electrolytes, and delicious meat that can go from custard texture to a semi-firm type of meat.  This meat can be eaten raw or used in the preparation of dishes.
          The mature coconuts provide less sweet water, also full of electrolytes.  Some of its water has been incorporated into the meat, giving it a firm density, and a noticeable nutty flavor.
          Many people use the term coconut water and coconut milk as interchangeable terms, but they are not.  When you open a coconut, you find water, not milk.  Coconut milk is a by-product.  It is usually made from the meat of a mature coconut blended with its own water, and sifted through cheesecloth.
          The “copra” or meat from the mature coconut, is the source of the coconut oil.   Depending on the process used to obtain it; the resulting product is either virgin coconut oil, with its innumerable healing properties, or regular coconut oil, which has a wide range of applications, going from cooking oil to cosmetics and soaps.  The coconut cake, which is the solid material left after extracting the oil, is used in the making of cattle feed and fertilizer.    
          The fibers from the coconut husk can be used to make mats, brushes, cordage, and packing material for plants.

          The coconut shell is used as cups or containers.  Some artisans polish it and turn it into ornamental souvenirs, accessories, or decorative objects.
          The coconut leaves from the tree are used to thatch roofs, make hats, baskets, and fans among others.  The ribs of these leaves can be used to make spears, arrows, and torches.

          The coconut trunk can be used to make canoes, post, rafters, and fences.



  1. I'm really enjoying the theme/design of your blog. Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility problems? A number of my blog readers have complained about my site not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Firefox. Do you have any ideas to help fix this issue?

    Take a look at my blog ... 4n25 opto isolator datasheet

  2. It's a shame you don't have a donate button! I'd definitely donate to this fantastic blog! I guess for now i'll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google
    account. I look forward to fresh updates and will share this blog with my Facebook group.
    Talk soon!

    My site: