My husband, away for two weeks, has left me with 7 coconuts waiting to be cut open with our newly sharpened Machete. It is a sight that fills me with pride and helps me sleep better at night knowing that if all else fails in the world, I have a tree full of coconuts to keep us going. I know I’m not the first to feel this way about the humble fruit, or drupe, as it is officially classified.
Coconuts have saved lives throughout the millennium. Attributed for rehabilitating and saving soldiers in World War II because of its similarity to blood plasma, the coconut, given as a sterile IV drip is not just the luxury oil of the tropics. Documentation of it extends to 1500 BC as an Ayurvedic treatment for various ailments. The antiviral and antibacterial properties come from its MCT’s, or medium chain fatty acids/triglycerides and more recent articles, such as Tsunami survivors who sustained themselves on coconuts, continue to populate the news.
When my daughter, or anyone in the family, starts to come down with a cold, they drink copious amounts of coconut water. We use the oil from the dried nut for cooking food, for massaging into the skin, and we add it to smoothies for a little rich, coco love. The tender flesh from the green coconut, or ‘jelly nut’, goes to the whole family, including the dog, and the water, rich in electrolytes, cools us in the summer heat. Superior to sports drinks, and even infant formula, coconut water transcends the health benefits of any store bought product and is cheaper, more widely available and more effective than most drinks in St. Croix (except maybe rum!)
Coconut changes from the liquid, carbohydrate form, to the solid, oil-rich form and the possibilities for use in cooking are astonishing. Last night I had it in homemade Key Lime ice cream, another favorite is my own green papaya curry with ground coconut milk. Next time you are sitting under the shade-giving tree on your day off or vacation, give thanks to this plant which has endured ocean travel, wars, natural disaster and time and continues to purify our bodies with its powerful goodness.
To find fresh coconut water on St. Croix, just keep your eyes open, you might find an old, but still good nut on the beach, or see someone chopping at the market or along the side of the road, or maybe you know of a tree that no one picks from. Eat and drink your fill while you are here and let us know how it has benefited you!