Here in the Philippines, coconuts are about as ubiquitous as white rice and chicken adobo. We’ve been blessed with abundance both in fruit and what we can get out of the tree. From coconut milk to meat, below is our guide on how to keep your stash in perfect condition for your next coconut culinary adventure. Remember, always source your coconut food products from a trusted coconut cream and milk supplier to ensure their quality.
Coconut meat refers to the sweet, white flesh found inside coconuts. You can eat it fresh in chunks right out of the shell if you wish, or use a shredding tool to create coconut meat tendrils to add to your favorite dessert or salad. Coconut meat is best eaten freshly cracked, but if you find yourself with leftovers, you may put them in an airtight plastic container and it should keep in the fridge for a couple of days. Blitz it up into a smoothie or shake, or use it to add texture to coconut water – just add the chunks to a pitcher of coconut water and some ice for a refreshing midday beverage.
Coconut water is the clear, sweet liquid contained in young, green coconuts – it’s a great post-workout drink, offering excellent hydration benefits. If it’s fresh, you’ll want to consume it within a couple of days as the taste can go off. Packaged or bottled coconut water can last a longer while, but keep in mind that these drinks are often loaded with stabilizers, preservatives, and sugars. Any coconut water cans or bottles can stay in your pantry when unopened at room temperature, but leftovers will need to be refrigerated and consumed within a day or two.
There are two common types of coconut oil you may find on the shelves: refined coconut oil comes from dried coconut meat, also known as copra, which is bleached and then deodorized for a neutral smell and taste. Virgin or pure coconut oil is derived from raw coconut meat which is dried quickly before the extracted milk and oil are separated. While both can be used in cooking, refined coconut oil will have a higher smoke point than virgin oil, but virgin coconut oil will have a more pronounced coconut flavor. Store your coconut oils in a tightly-lidded jar or bottle in a cool area, away from sunlight or open flame. It may solidify at lower temperatures, but should have no trouble melting back down in a pan.
Coconut cream or milk
The only difference between coconut milk and cream is consistency; while coconut milk is blended with water at a 1:1 ratio, coconut cream is blended in a ratio of up to 4 parts coconut to 1 part water. Again, they’re best used immediately when fresh, though the kinds that come in tin cans or cartons should last a while, unopened, at room temperature. Once it’s out, you can keep leftovers in an airtight jar or bottle and store it for up to a week and a half in the fridge. You can also pour coconut milk into ice cube trays for easy access to coconut-infused shakes and smoothies.
Often referred to as “desiccated coconut”, this product is actually coconut meat that’s been grated and dried. Sometimes they come in a powder form or in larger shreds, and they are often used for baking. You can keep the leftovers in the bag they came in provided that you seal it back up tight, or pour the flakes into a Ziploc bag. They should keep for about 4 to 5 months. You can up that longevity to a year if you keep the package in the freezer.
When in doubt, you can always look at the packaging of the product to see how it’s supposed to be stored and how long it can last in your fridge or cupboard.