What are coconuts? A coconut may be considered to be a seed, a fruit and a nut! Coconut is a seed because it is the reproductive part of the tree, coconut is a fruit because it is a fibrous one seeded drupe and coconut is a nut because a loose definition of a nut is nothing but a one-seeded ‘fruit’. In Trinidad & Tobago we love the taste of coconut, whether its coconut water, coconut
ice cream, cake or rum we can’t get enough of this special “Seed….Fruit….Nut.”
Because Bar Business TT is all about the beverages, let’s focus on the ever so popular coconut water. Naturally refreshing, coconut water has a sweet, nutty taste. It contains easily digested carbohydrates in the form of sugar and electrolytes. Not to be confused with high-fat coconut milk or oil, coconut water is a clear liquid in the fruit’s center that is tapped from young coconuts.
What’s the best coconut water to buy? If available, look for coconut water in a fresh, green coconut, instead of the packaged variety, it may be difficult to open, but is really fun to drink. It also contains no added sugar, preservatives and isn’t pasteurized. It is the healthiest and most delicious choice by far.
Fresh coconuts are perishable and you may find them in the back of a truck or pick up all over Trinidad & Tobago. If they are opened, the coconut water should be kept cold and consumed within 3–5 days. If you cannot find a fresh, green coconut, your second best choice is cold-pressured coconut water, which is only lightly processed via high pressure processing instead of heat. This exposes the coconut water to high pressure to eliminate bacteria, but maintains a greater level of vitamins and minerals.
If coconut water does not need to be refrigerated, it usually means it has been pasteurized to maintain its freshness. During the pasteurization process, liquids are heated to a high temperature to kill any bacteria, but this also destroys many of the natural vitamins and minerals in the product. Generally, if any fruit or vegetable is made into a concentrate, it loses nutrients in the process, therefore it is always best to choose options that are not from concentrate if available.
In order to make coconut water concentrates more “flavorful,” many companies are adding sweeteners or other flavors to coconuts. Many companies also use flavors to cover up the fact they are not using young coconuts in their coconut water, but instead are using mature coconuts that have a more bitter and acidic taste.
Avoid coconut waters with added flavors or sugar. The primary ingredient should be 100 percent coconut water, there should not be any added fruit juices, natural or artificial ingredients,
or anything that may indicate that the coconut water was modified in any way.