Coconuts are the symbol of the tropics. Just put a coconut tree on a little mound of sand and a deserted, tropical island comes to mind. I’d be happy on a deserted island and might not even wave down a ship if there were plenty of coconuts to eat.
If I had to pick only five fruit trees I could grow in Hawaii, coconut would be at the top of that list. Coconuts are delicious and can be eaten at a very early stage in their development and, even later, after they’ve sprouted.
You can eat a sprouted nut that has a coconut plant coming out of it or even if it’s put down a few roots. Brown shaker coconuts (make a liquid sound when you shake them) will sprout quickly if they are laid on a somewhat moist surface. You can usually find sprouts directly under an unpruned coconut tree.
At one time, I used to carefully remove the husk of a sprouted coconut to get to the round nut like you see in grocery stores. Then I’d take the dull side of my machete and rap it along the circumference of the nut until it cracked. Lately, I find cleaving it in two with the husk on and a sharp machete is much quicker and more satisfying.
Once you do, you will find, this angel food-like substance at the center of the nut. It fills the entire cavity where the nut’s water used to be. It’s hard to describe the consistency because it is truly unlike any other. It looks like a sponge but it’s not terribly flexible. It would be hard for a pastry chef to emulate this consistency.
Occasionally, you will find one that is a little soggy. I hope you don’t because you shouldn’t judge a sprouted coconut on this type. It should be dry, fill the cavity completely, have some coconut fat on it, be dense, and not soggy.
You can pop the center out and slice it up. Usually, I just eat it this way but you could use it as a topping on a desert and impress your friends with your ingenuity.
It is sweet like a coconut but not hard or chewy. It’s light and airy and melts in your mouth. In Hawaii, it is often referred to as queen’s bread. Once you taste it, you will know why. It seems very special and it’s a rare treat.