AUD 20

Coconut, The wonder nut: tree which gives all that is necessary for living


“He who plants a coconut tree plants food and drink, vessels and clothing, a home for himself and a heritage for his children”

– South Seas saying


“The coconut nut is a giant nut

If you eat too much, you’ll get very fat

Now, the coconut nut is a big, big nut

But it’s delicious nut is not a nut”


So goes the lyrics to the song Da coconut nut of the popular Filipino band Smoky Mountain.  The coconut is an extra-ordinary fruit that is part of the Filipino pride.

The Philippines is the world’s largest producer of coconuts, Filipino experts have concluded that the Philippine coconut variety arguably tastes the most delicious in the world.

This is due to our country’s unique geography as an archipelago which allows for the best growing conditions due to the natural wind patterns and sea currents that cross ventilate the 7,107 islands which then combined with an ideal tropical climate and suitable sandy soil to produce the world’s best-tasting fresh coconuts.

In the Philippines coconut trees are as common as pine trees in America, in its peak season; it is natural to see people climbing up the tree to procure the prized fruit 75 feet off the ground. Most homes in the country side have their own coconut tree in their backyards and come October families gather around to enjoy the delicious fruit.  As a child it was a fascinating to watch the skilled way the coconut vendors peel and cut the coconut to extract the wonderfully refreshing juice from within.

The coconut has over a hundred different purposes, from its delectable fruit to its sturdy lumber and even its leaves. Nothing is ever wasted when it comes to the coconut tree which is why it is most commonly referred to as the tree of life.

However the most remarkable aspect of the coconut is its role in food.  The coconut fruit with its sweet savory white meat, its creamy milk and thirst-quenching water has been used in Filipino cuisines and is a staple in the Filipino diet.

My deepest love for coconut can be explained in one word, Kakanin (rice cakes). Kakanin is a dessert that is named after its main ingredient which is “Kanin” (cooked rice) and its purpose, Kain (to Eat) Uniquely Filipino, these are sweet delicacies or sometimes desserts made from rice, sweet rice or root vegetables that are slow cooked and made with coconut or coconut milk.

Kakanin is an integral part of the Filipino culture, in fact almost every province in the Philippines have their own special kakanin and often they dedicate a festival to it.  Kakanin is made in a variety of ways often involving long hours of meticulous preparation.  Making even the simplest kakanin which is the “Suman” takes about a whole day, but as with any good food, it is all worth it, once you have tasted the sweet, sticky, chewy delicacy best accompanied with coffee.

We use coconut for a variety of kakanin and cakes we make. Our coconut infused kakanin includes:

 Kutsinta: a sticky-chewy brown rice cake that incorporates cassava and uses lye water topped with grated coconut. It is a popular delicacy for children because of its bright orange hue and the generous serving of coconut on top.

Pichi-pichi: a filling merienda staple, made with grated cassava that has a soft gelatin like quality. It is covered in coconut curd in the same way as donuts are rolled in sugar and other toppings. The coconut compliments the softness of the kakanin by giving it a crunchy, chewy texture.

Palitaw:  is made out of sticky rice is washed, soaked, then ground, then scoops of the resulting batter are dropped into boiling water.  The way it rises to the surface is what gave it its name “litaw” which means to float. Similar to pichi-pichi the soft, flat discs are rolled into coconut shavings and sugar.

Bibingka: a Popular delicacy served during Misa de Gallo (Midnight Mass), which Catholic devotees attend, from December 16 to 24.  Bibingka is a type of pudding, baked in clay ovens, in our kitchen, the batter is made out of coconut milk which makes it creamier and healthier than regular milk. This fluffy cake served with melted cheese, salted egg and coconut shavings is reminiscent of cold winter nights spent with family and friends while paying homage to God.

Coconut with its variety of uses truly is the most outstanding of all the trees, no wonder people write songs about this life giving tree, and yes, it doesn’t actually make you fat.

“It’s the coco fruit (it’s the coco fruit)

Of the coco tree (of the coco tree)

From the coco palm family”

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