Coconuts In The Dominican Republic
Learn how to do coconuts Dominican Style
Coconuts in the Dominican Republic grow wild, and Dominicans utilize every single bit of the coconut from the water, meat, milk, and oil, to the husk and seed. Below you will find coconut facts, do’s and don’ts, and the best way to enjoy the delicious fruit/nut/seed. All of which we have learned since moving to Cabarete, Dominican Republic.
Young vs. Mature Coconut
Most street vendors and restaurants that sell coconuts in Cabarete are offering the water from young coconuts because it’s sweet. As coconuts grow, the nutrients in their juice become the meat in the coconut. This mature coconut sold as coco seco (dry coconut), and though the flesh is used for making milk, oil, or treats, the water is almost tasteless, so feel free to discard it. For the most nutritious coconut water, drink water from young coconuts.
How to Properly Enjoy Coconut Water While in the DR
When you buy a fresh coconut off the streets of Cabarete, the vendor will use a machete very impressively to open a hole at the top of the coconut. We suggest saying no to the straw and chugging that agua de coco down, let it spill all over you – this is your vacation! Don’t let all those nutrients in the coconut meat go to waste, ask the coco-man to open the coco for you. He will bust it open and chop a little sliver off the husk to use a spoon. Just dig in and carve the nutritious gelatinous goodness out of the center and slurp it down.
How to Ruin Coconut Water
In the western world, the coconut water usually comes in cartons, imported from South East Asia or Brazil, and always processed. Companies that sell coconut water in the west at some point realized they could buy mature coconuts cheap and use them to make Frankenstein versions of this naturally delicious, incredibly nutritious drink. Heat processing coconut water adds shelf life to the product, then sweeteners mask the tastelessness of the mature coco. Of course, the heat kills bacteria which extends the shelf life, but this process also destroys the nutrients. If coconut water isn’t raw, organic, and unpasteurized, you are likely buying coconut water that has little nutrients, added sweeteners, and cocos that have possibly dipped in formaldehyde before being shipped over seas for processing.
How to Make Coconut Milk
In The Dominican Republic, coconut milk goes in many traditional dishes. Pescado con Coco (Fish in Coconut), Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas), and Dulce de Coco (Coconut Candy) are some well-known favorites. Most Dominican abuelas make coconut milk by hand grating mature coconut into a fine pulp. Then they squeeze out all of the liquid. If you’re feeling a little more new-school, you can use a blender for making the pulp. Then just squeeze the milk out using a nut bag or something similar.
Making Coconut Oil the Old Fashioned Dominican Way
Back in the day, Dominicans would cook mostly with homemade coconut oil. This oil was homemade by allowing coconut milk to sit for 24 hours. In which time it naturally separates into a top layer of white curd-like solid called coconut cream. Eat a spoonful of this, it’s delicious! Heating the curds and stirring constantly removes excess water. After about 15-20 minutes when the curds turn yellowish-brown, all of the oils are then strained out. Four coconuts makes about half a cup coconut oil, so coconut milk was made in huge batches.The coconut is a miracle fruit, and we are lucky to have it growing all over our beautiful country (and in our hotel’s back yard). If you know of any Dominican secrets regarding coconuts, feel free to share in the comments. Maybe we will put your info in our next post 🙂