Mysteries of the Coconut: Air kelapa

drinking coconuts Working under the hot tropical sun can take a lot out of you. Within minutes, sweat flows freely and before long you become drenched. Taking clothes off doesn’t help at all; in fact, it just exposes you more to the sun’s rays. Laborers will work dressed from ankle to wrist, often with a balaclava over their faces. An extra towel or cloth around the neck is another common accessory for construction workers, just to mop up the sweat. With all that sweating, it is very easy to become dehydrated. Luckily, God in His Mercy has placed the perfect remedy close at hand: Coconut Water. The water contained in coconuts is extremely refreshing. It is rich in electrolytes, not only quenching the thirst but replacing the bodily salts lost through sweat. It’s nature’s Gatorade. They are individually packaged, one coconut being a suitable amount for one person to drink. It comes sanitarily wrapped, totally sterile within the shell. And even on the hottest day, the water inside is kept a pleasantly cool temperature by the thick layer of coconut fibre.

cutting open a coconutThe only trick is getting the water out. The layer of fiber is fairly thick, and a good heavy knife is needed. Before I became a Man of Coconuts, I would often buy a coconut at a roadside stall and watch the lady slice it open quickly and neatly. Now that my own coconut trees, a variety grown for drinking, have begun to bear fruit, I determined to enjoy the fruit of my own field. Yet when I tried to slice them myself, I found it took me five times as long and I had to sweat at it. Only recently, after a great many attempts, have I learned the secret that I will now pass on to you, my dear reader. Turn the coconut over. The inner shell of the coconut does not rest exactly in the middle of the coconut husk. Rather, it is much closer to the bottom end of the fruit. You Malaysians giggling at me because you already knew that, where were you a year ago when I needed you?

tender coconut meat Perhaps you’ve tried to drink the liquid in a supermarket coconut before using the coconut meat. That stuff is schwag – no one will drink it here. The liquid is at it’s most drinkable when the coconut is still young and the white flesh has just started to form inside the nut. At that stage, the quantity of water is more and the taste is sweeter and more neutral, not nutty. At home, after draining the coconuts into a jug, I split the nut and scrape out the soft jelly-like flesh on the inside and add that to the jug. But if you’re drinking your coconut in the field, without jug or spoon, you don’t have to waste the flesh. After drinking the water, split the coconut. Then, using your knife, slice off a wedge of the coconut husk and use that like a spoon, as the two agronomy co-eds up top are doing after a day’s fieldwork.
Coconut cleaver


15 thoughts on “Mysteries of the Coconut: Air kelapa

  1. Isn’t it absolutely delicious when you do it all yourself?!
    My grandfather taught us all about coconuts when we were very young. He used to own a large piece of land in Singapore with lots of coconut trees and other local fruit trees, and he lived beside a Malay kampong. He was good friends with the village penghulu. Sadly now, Singaporeans have no idea what to do with a coconut. As a matter of fact, it’s not that easy to get a coconut here!

  2. Schwag! Funny word.

    I bought a brown hairy looking coconut, I presume full of “schwag” from the market here in Amman. My Filipina helper said, “Ma’am, this is old and rotten. The real coconuts are green.”

    I’d love to try one!!

  3. My first afternoon drink whenever I return home. And I too cannot open the coconut as professionally as my father- a ‘boarding school syndrome’ he calls it, cheekily.

  4. Umm Farouq, it’s so hard to get a decent coconut in the market, because they strip all the fiber off, ostensibly to make it easier to open, and tidier-looking. The problem is – you’ve noticed the three black holes at one end of the coconut – if those aren’t covered with at least a small amount of fibre, the coconut will sour quickly. That’s why they sell mature coconuts here with a portion of fibre unremoved. I’ll try to post a picture of what I’m talking about.

  5. Br Bin Gregory,

    Coconut water is also good for those having fever. Its especially good for “demam campak”. Still, because its very cooling, I’ve heard that it may also decrease sexual performance in men. Er… no really! The reverse is the case for durian which is “panas”.

    All the same, MashaAllah for giving us the coconut tree!Almost every single part of it has its beneficial use to us.

  6. I love coconut milk and its flesh 🙂 I know it is a natural diarhettic (sp) but so what. And I read in ibn Battuta’s travels, when he stopped on the Maldives, the people there used to spin the bristles of the coconut into a rope that was stronger than hemp and they would sew their boats together with it. The flexibility it gave them would let the boats survive hitting the rocks, unlike nails driven into wood, which would just spearate or splinter out.

    Ya Haqq!

  7. Salam Bin Gregory…

    nyamannya air nior 🙂 .Di Kuala Lumpur, sebiji kelapa muda dijual di restoran mamak berharga RM2.50 hingga RM3.00 sebiji. Di pasar malam pula secawan air kelapa dijual pada harga RM1.00, tapi rasanya ‘sik nyaman’ sebab sudah dicampur dengan air gula. tapi begitulah kehidupan di bandar besar seperti Kuala Lumpur…

  8. Br. Israd, my kids all had demam campak while we were in Bagan Datoh for the holiday. I tried to give it to them, but my son wouldn’t drink it, saying coconut water in Sarawak tastes better. You should have seen my poor mother-in-law’s face!
    About the, ahem, men’s health issue, I have also heard that, but I can’t say I put a lot of stock in it. Durian on the other hand, that is very much for real 😀
    Unsunghero: Ayo Nyo di Bagan Datoh! Tentang hal gula – kerana itulah dekat2 10% warga malaysia ada kancing manis… Epidemik betul. Saya selalu mintak kurang manis di restoran tapi orang tak paham ertinya. Dari 2 inci tinggal lagi 1 inci susu manisnya. Bahaya…

  9. ..then again some folks say kelapa penawar (remedy) yang bisa (toxic), because apart from remedying some sicknesses, it can cause some negative effects too on the drinker.

    on a cheerful note, if you are ever around kelantan, they have a delicious concoction called kelapa madu. ironically there’s no honey in it, but the madu aka sweetness comes from jelly which is poured into the opened coconut and allowed to set. some ice is crushed in also. its really sedap!

  10. That’s a great project, HijabMan – I check it every day in my feed reader. I’m a bit intimidated by the excellent photos that you’ve had thus far, but inshallah I do intend to submit something eventually.

  11. salam

    a very indeed a useful information. I mean i have knew before that air kelapa is quite soothing and refershing i did not know that it have a lot of benefits like this.

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