Young coconut or “buko” as we call it in the Philippines is gaining popularity nowadays. It might as well be because researches are always coming up with good news about it, how it is good for you. The list of nutritional benefits goes on and on.
I’m happy that I grow up enjoying young coconuts. It’s my first request upon arrival in my hometown, to gather me some young coconuts for me to savor especially during the hot days I will be staying. I will put the grated young coconut, (you will know that it is young when the meat is almost transparent) in a glass of coconut water with ice and enjoy. It is also a good excuse for not drinking my favorite soda which I am almost addicted to.
Coconut is a main staple in the Philippines, young (buko) or matured (niyog). It’s uses are endless, form the meat to the shell and especially to the husks. The husks of matured coconuts (coir) are being used now as I found out recently mixed in starter soils for plants. The husks are ground up and bagged and shipped to companies that need them as a medium for planting. I’m guessing that it came just in time when the peat moss is almost going to a decline which is good timing. We needed an alternative for peat moss as soil starter or potting mix. In Thailand, the husks are being used as a medium for growing orchids. In the Philippines, we used the husks too for the same purpose almost instinctively because we don’t like to waste. We actually used it as fuel like firewood for cooking, even the coconut shells. The meat of the coconut is the most important as a food source and also as oil. I am surprised to see coconut oil on the shelves of most grocery stores nowadays especially the virgin coconut oil. I’m happy to see that of course because it takes some time to extract oil from a coconut. This is the old school of extracting oil from a coconut as I saw it done in my hometown. After husking the matured coconut and cracking the shell with a machete, you have to grate the meat (there is a special grater for coconut). And after grating, you have to wring the meat to extract the milk. The milk will then be put in a pan or wok and simmered for a long time till the meat curdles (we call this “latik) and the oil is evident. If I need coconut oil now, I don’t have to go through all that trouble. I actually used to extract oil by using the coconut milk from a can. I don’t get much oil doing that but I get what I need if I want to make “latik” for maja blanca, a dessert recipe made of rice flour and coconut milk.
Back to the young coconuts, most athletes nowadays prefer drinking coconut water for its electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium and phosphorous). It helps in regulating blood sugars, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also helps in boosting your energy and increasing metabolism. Compare to a commercial energy drink, it contains more potassium twice from a banana.
It also has some medicinal uses like for stomach flu, dysentery, indigestion, constipation, intestinal worms, cholera, urethral stones, kidney malfunctions, etc. It is also good for dry and itchy skin, eczema and acne.
Not only the young coconuts are good to eat, it also has a lot of benefits healthful and otherwise.