Your whole food, plant-based life.

Raw Food: All About Young Coconuts

When creating raw food recipes, the young coconut is a healthy substitution for many of the dairy products that we have eliminated.  Raw food is traditionally vegan.  Coming up with recipes that remind us of  the traditional recipes that call for cream, butter and cheese requires creativity with the ingredients that we do use, such as nuts and coconut.

Coconut flesh, coconut oil and coconut butter are healthy substitutions. Recent research as found that the saturated fat contained in coconut actually protects against heart disease, stroke and hardening of the arteries. Coconut oil contains large amounts of lauric acid which is the main fatty acid found in breast milk. Lauric acid strengthens the immune system and protects against viral, bacterial and fungal infections. You can read more about the health benefits of coconuts here.

What kind of coconuts do you use for the recipes? I use young Thai coconuts. They are coconuts in the earlier stages of development. (See above picture). You can find them at co-ops, Whole Foods, Asian markets and online. Recently I found a site that has great prices for fresh, organic young coconuts. I have not ordered any from here but wanted to let you know about the site. The owner wanted me to let you know that sometimes it might take a week or two to get your order because they ship as the coconuts become available. The link is: Florida Coconuts.

What is the difference between coconut oil and coconut butter? Coconut Oil is pressed out of the coconut flesh either by centrifugal force ( unrefined, virgin coconut oil) or the cold pressed method. Coconut Butter is coconut oil plus coconut solids. It contains the oil and the flesh of the coconut.

Opening Coconuts: When I first started experimenting with raw foods, I was intimidated by coconuts. I had no idea how to open them. I tried a tree saw, a huge cleaver and various knives. Every attempt was finally met with success but only after some pretty scary moments and fear of removing body parts.  Then, I stumbled upon a video showing the correct way to open a young coconut. Honestly, it is so easy, I couldn’t believe how much stress I had previously put myself through.

Trim excess husk from pointed top of coconut.

It will look like this.

With the bottom edge of your knife, strike the coconut towards the top.

Continue to strike the coconut around the top until you have reached your starting place.

Lift the lid, pour out the water (save it as it is quite good for you) and scrape out the flesh with a spoon!

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  1. Rick wrote on October 7, 2013

    All the Coconut Oil I find in stores lately (as of 2013) are all rancid and/or contaminated. I never had an issue with simply grabbing quality/pure white coconut oil off of the shelves a few years back. Now that there’s a higher demand for it; the quality is awful and not safe to ingest (in my opinion). Never ever had this problem a few years ago, I take 8 tbsp a day so Im constantly purchasong it. I just started missing days as of 2013 fue to all the stores distributing poor quality coconut oil. Its ridiculous, and they’ll tell you it’s not rancid “its just yellow because of the smoke point during manufacturing” or “because its organic” as if anyone can determine whether or not its yellow due to the smoke point or rancidity. How can this be determined? Coconut oil or any food doesnt just go bad over night, its a gradual and slight process; therefore, what could happen.if/when youve mistaken it for something “organic” going on with or if its just bad. I live in CA, all stores here are selling bad coconut oil and Ive gotten the catch in the throay among many other situations because of it. So my question is, how can you determine good young coconuts? I just began eating them

    • Susan wrote on October 7, 2013

      Hi, Rick, I am sorry you are having trouble with coconut oil. I also live in California and have no problem finding good coconut. In fact, I haven’t had a bad jar. I am not sure what kind of coconut oil you are getting but you can get organic raw coconut oil at Whole Foods. As for the young coconuts, that is trickier. There are bad ones out there and you really won’t know until you open them.

  2. leslie l. wrote on April 5, 2013

    Thank tou somuch for this information. Ive been drinking young cocnut water for years now but always feeling alil guilty because living in California I can get the almost year round. Since I started researching more on Raw Food Diet Ive been buying the twice a week, drinking and making (kale, date, banana) smoothies with the water. However, I wasn’t clear of a few things, 1. the nutrition and 2. what if any things to do with the husk?
    Thank you.

  3. mee wrote on March 7, 2013

    The coconut ‘fat’ is from a place which should be aware of the difference. It is organic from India. It does not claim to be raw. I think that to be raw it must be from fresh coconut flesh then as opposed to dried. I am not in us and I presume that the ‘fat’ is solid at room temp also but if it isn’t I will not buy it. The 115 degrees sounds hot.

  4. mee wrote on March 7, 2013

    … Could the term raw mean that the oil pressing were taken from the raw fresh coconut flesh and not like usual from the dried flesh?

  5. mee wrote on March 7, 2013

    Thanks Susan, but that is why I am asking. I have seen for sale coconut fat cold pressed and I currently buy raw coconut oil ( in it’s solid form).

    • Susan wrote on March 7, 2013

      I only use raw organic virgin coconut oil that is cold pressed. It is solid at room temp. I would really worry that “coconut fat” especially if it was liquid at room temp was processed and not healthy. But since I honestly have never seen something labeled “coconut fat” I am at a loss here. I can’t even find it if I google it. Are you in the US? Coconut oil is the fat from the coconut. To keep the raw status, it can’t be heated over 115 degrees in processing.

  6. mee wrote on March 6, 2013

    I am wondering if a few questions about coconut oil be answered please if possible:
    What is the difference between coconut fat and coconut oil?
    What is the difference between raw coconut oil and cold pressed coconut fat?
    Could the oil and fat be the same thing?
    What makes a thing raw?
    I hope you can help.
    Thanks in advance

    • Susan wrote on March 6, 2013

      First, I need to understand what you mean by “coconut fat”.

  7. Bethany Liesemer wrote on December 7, 2012

    I purchased 3 coconuts at an Asian grocer here in Toronto (Canada) yesterday, they came from California. However, they had just “arrived” yesterday. Today when I opened all of them one of them was definitely perfect, as the coconut inside was still firm, super white, and stuck to the sides, and the the water was much clearer. However, the other two, one has a slight pink on the bottom (a sign of them developing bad bacteria?) and the flesh inside was all gooey. The other was not pink, and the water (i put all the water from each coconut in separate glass jars – filtered it – to compare colour) was fairly close in colour to the healthy coconut, BUT the inside was gooey again.

    So… my question, if anyone can answer or still reads this blog post – can I use that gooey coconut flesh, if there is no sign of pink? And is the water still safe to drink?

    I feel like I wasted money, because I could only use 1 of the 3.

    Also, is there a way to pick the coconuts from the grocers and know from the outside or smell which might be healthier?

    • Susan wrote on December 7, 2012

      Sometimes, you don’t get mature enough coconuts. If I open one that isn’t…has the purplish cast and relatively little flesh, I return them. People are very good at taking them back as you have a coconut you really can’t use.


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