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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