May 21, 2009

Harvesting and opening the coconuts

yellow coconuts, La Ceiba, HondurasBeautiful coconuts

We had two dwarf coconut trees, one a yellow coconut and the other a green coconut. The yellow coco was sickly and the fronds were constantly covered with a yucky black mildew looking stuff. It flowered but the cocos aborted without ever producing a single one. It was also infested with fire ants making spraying and/or trimming off the infected fronds a difficult and painful thing to do. I wanted to cut down the yellow palm before whatever it had infected the good coco. El Jefe did not want to give up on it.

The green coco was lush and healthy and grew taller and faster than the other. It was a beautiful sight swaying in the breeze. At one point, it had more than 50 cocos in various stages of development. I was salivating over it. By the way, 'green' and 'yellow' refer only to the outer covering. The coconut inside has the same brown hairy covering that you are probably familiar with if you buy them in the US.

coconut after lethal yellowing, La Ceiba, HondurasLo and behold, the tables turned. The beautiful, lush, healthy green coco apparently contracted lethal yellowing disease. (Sharon of Feather Ridge from Guanaja Island, Honduras, has an excellent article about lethal yellowing.) In no time at all, it aborted every single coco while every frond expired one by one and the whole top just died and fell over. We are left with this depressing stump which is pleading for the machete.

Meanwhile, the previous ugly step-sister has recovered and thrived and is now loaded with coconuts. (Never listen to La Gringa when it comes to coco palms.) We had a mini-harvest the other day.

Carlos, La Ceiba, HondurasCarlos, a former worker, had come over to move a few banana plants for us. He was showing his prowess in opening and cleaning coconuts. This guy is good! When he was finished with most of them, all I had to do was use a vegetable peeler to scrape off that last thin coating of brown around the outside. With other methods, you still have the problem of getting the meat out of the shell. Not this way! I'm all for the 'opener' doing all the hard work and handing it over to the cook ready to go. ;-)

Since Peter from the Central American Forum had showed us videos of he and his wife opening coconuts the Philippine way, I thought it would be interesting to show the Honduran way, or at least one Honduran's way. ;-)

Peeled coconut, La Ceiba, HondurasCarlos wanted everyone to know that this coco was particularly hard and he didn't get it quite as clean as the others. He also mentioned that El Jefe's machete is in need of sharpening. El Jefe took his turn, too. We're going to be inviting Carlos over to share in the coco stash in return for cleaning more of these coconuts! This guy is good! In my opinion, those bags of pre-shredded coconut that you buy in the US should cost about $20 each.

I was glad that there was enough background noise that you can't hear the camera person munching away on a hunk of coconut meat in the background.

Opening the coconut video:

Opening coconut with machete, La Ceiba, HondurasWhen you see things like this, don't you have to wonder what was that first person thinking who decided to spend hours with a rock and a rock-hard coconut just to see if there was anything to eat inside? If I was stuck on a deserted island with a coco tree, I'm afraid I would starve to death before I ever got one opened.

Tomorrow: Processing the coconut meat.
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