You can’t make a piña colada or a decent Thai curry without it, its water makes a great recovery drink, and its fibrous husk, when burned, repels mosquitos — these are just three of many excellent reasons to celebrate World Coconut Day on September 2. One of nature’s most versatile products, the coconut plant (and its various parts) can be used for food and drink, cosmetic preparations, and decorating. Some coconut proponents (cocoproponents?) even claim that the fruit’s oil can reverse dental decay — if you swish it around in your mouth for 20 minutes a day! Most of us aren’t comfortable with a mouthful of oil, no matter whence that oil comes or what it’s purported to do. But we can still get caught up in the coconut craze. Whether you’re stuck on a deserted island or comfortable in your own home, here are some (relatively normal) ideas for using this tropical wonderfruit.
World Coconut Day - History
Coconut water becomes a popular drink in the West1971 Put the Lime in the Coconut
Harry Nilsson's "Coconut," which tells the story of a woman who put the lime in the coconut and drank them both up, debuts1280 Indian Nut
Marco Polo encounters the coconut on his travels to Sumatra and refers to it in his writing as "nux indica," or "Indian nut"
- Crack one open
It’s a lot of fun to crack into a real coconut, and no, you don’t need a machete. There are a number of methods, so check out some YouTube videos. Whichever you choose, be sure to save the coconut water before prying out the sweet meat for snacking.
- Cook something different
If you have only ever had coconuts in tropical drinks and macaroons, get acquainted with the savory side of this fruit. Try your hand at a coconut-based curry, coconut shrimp, coconut-lime rice, or even coconut-crusted onion rings!
- Throw a tiki party
Now that you have all these coconutty delights, why not host a Polynesian-themed party? They’re best held in the backyard, where you can light the area with tiki torches. Provide leis and/or grass skirts, decorate with orchids and tropical fruit, and play some festive ukulele music to get guests in the mood. Don’t forget to put umbrellas in the drinks!
- There are so many ways to enjoy coconuts
Odds are that you have recently experienced coconut, in some form or another. If you haven’t had a smoothie or a cocktail or an entree made with coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut water, coconut oil, or the fruit itself, you may have washed your face, shampooed your hair, moisturized, or exfoliated with a coconut by-product. Coconut shells can be used as bowls, to make buttons, and to create the sound effect of horses’ hooves.
- Coconuts are delicious
Coconut products add a scrumptious creaminess to any drink or dish. A smoothie takes on a tropical flair, while even the simplest curry gets depth from coconut milk. Raw coconut makes a perfect snack, and lends just the right amount of chewiness to baked goods. And unless your coconut has added sugar, it will work well in savory applications as well as sweet ones.
- You guessed it — coconuts are nutritious
Is coconut the new kale? Well, probably not, but coconuts are high in iron, magnesium, fiber and protein. Coconut water provides potassium and sodium. In moderate amounts, coconut oil — a medium-chain fatty acid — is not harmful, although the jury is out on whether or not it’s helpful. And coconut products play prominent roles in gluten-free, soy-free, and vegan diets.