Our versatile coconut
The coconut is almost like salt, it is in almost everything. Just think about it. This is one food item that is so versatile that from tree trunk to the nut, everything is useful.
The tree can be used as coir to stuff mattresses, the trunk is a good source of copra and fertiliser, or mats for the floor, the branches are great for roofing and to make hats. Dried coconut shells make excellent fuel and are a great host/holder for some plants, the dried husk can be used to make candle holders, earrings, rings, bracelets, cups, bowls and even lamp shades.
Best of all, the meat can be used to make oil, cream, butter, drops, gizzardas, grater cake, flakes to coat cakes and pies, macaroons, milk for the rice and peas and who does not love a glass of cold coconut water?
Coconut milk is great with Jamaican chocolate tea; it is the main ingredient in yesterday's rice and peas, it is excellent with Brazil nuts and almonds - just blend all three for your own home-made almond milk.
If you have never had hominy corn porridge with coconut milk, you have not lived a full Jamaican life. And what would mackerel rundown be without coconut milk? Plus next time you visit grandma (must be over 75), beg her to make you some coconut custard.
1. To remove dried coconut from the shell, drain water from it then place it in the hot oven (350 degrees), for about 8 minutes, remove and use a hammer to hit the shell a few times. The nut and shell will separate from each other very easily. Of course, we are not suggesting that you light the oven just for this reason. This is best tried when you already have something in the oven.
You can also cut the coconut into tiny blender-ready bits, freeze and blend as needed in the future. Better that buying the cream in the shop.
2. Coconut water is best when had directly from the shell, this is because it loses its potency as soon as they are cut, so have your vendor cut the outer skin from them then store on the bottom shelf of the fridge till needed.
3. Chop dried coconut into blender-friendly bits and store in the freezer till you are ready. Just thaw and blend as needed because this is cheaper and tastes better than the ones in the can.