The Life Cycle Of Coconuts:
The flesh goes from nothing at all, to a thin layer of clear jelly. The jelly gets thicker and thicker and firmer and firmer as the coconut matures, finally turning into the very dense meat that we all think of as coconut.
As the flesh matures, the juice, while initially perhaps a bit cloudy, gets completely clear, and gets sweeter as the coconut matures.
Parallel to all this the inner shell (not the fibrous outer husk) also progresses from thin and whitish to blackish brown and very tough.
Both the flesh and the juice are delicious throughout the process. I like the flesh particularly when it is gelatinous or just getting firm.
Making Coconut Milk at home:
Place the coconut in a heat-proof bowl. Cover with hot water and stir. Let cool to room temperature. Place a sieve or strainer over a large bowl. Line it with a double layer of cheesecloth. Pour the soaked coconut with its liquid into the lined strainer. Lift the cheesecloth, pull the edges together, and squeeze out the coconut milk. Refrigerate the coconut milk.
The remaining coconut flesh may be air-dryed and/or toasted for other uses. Spread coconut out in an ungreased shallow baking pan and toast, uncovered, stirring often, 30 to 40 minutes at 300 degrees F. until golden.
Recipes to check out