Today was our annual coconut harvest day. For the third year in a row, we hired the same professional coconut man who uses a spikeless method to climb the tree and cut the fruit (for more on that, see… SPIKELESS COCONUT HARVESTING (2014)). The tree does not get damaged and we get more coconuts that we can dream of.
And what a harvest it was!
To say that our coconut crop this year was ABUNDANT would be an understatement. After our coconut man had loaded up his truck to the gills with fruit and hauled away probably more than a couple of hundred coconuts to resell them, we still had some 80 coconuts left over for our use and sharing as gifts.
So now I am in a process of distributing them to friends and charities. And tomorrow I plan to “slaughter” some 10-15 of them for our own use. Besides the coconut milk (juice), I love to eat the “meat” raw. As for the hardest ones, we cut them up into smaller pieces and make coconut “french fries” (actually roasted coconut strips). Which are delicious! (see above).
All this reminds me of some of the great harvest festivals in Europe, some of which I remember from my own childhood.
And now, here are some still pictures from today’s coconut harvest at the Rainbow Shower. And for the first time ever, our second coconut palm, the one we fondly call our “baby palm,” has also produced abundant fruit and needed to be trimmed (middle shot below).
You can also compare them with the two previous harvests – on Aug 27, 2015 and on Aug 29, 2014. These photos also show the start and the finish of each of those harvests. You can see by how much our coconut palms have grown in the last three years.
To some of our neighbors, I have also given small a bunch of small coconuts, the ones you see strewn at the foot of the big coconut palm. I am not sure how much juice or “meat” they will have, but they might be good as seeds.
If you dig them into the ground a bit so that the top of the coconut is exposed, they might sprout roots and eventually grow into a tree. We have a small tree growing like that at the top of our driveway under a big Norfolk Pine that we did not plant. It is a “volunteer.” (meaning, it fell from the palm and planted itself). Here it is…
UPDATE AUG 26, 2016
COCONUT HARVEST: THE REST OF THE STORY – BUTCHERING
For those of you who do not live in Hawaii or the tropics elsewhere, and may think that coconuts grow in Safeway or Whole Foods stores, or magically appear as already processed toppings in birthday and wedding cakes or ice cream, here’s now the “rest of the story” of my coconut harvest 2015.
You think harvesting the coconuts was hard? And it was. Well, the “rest of the story” – butchering – is actually a lot of even harder work.
First you have to “decapitate” them with an ax at, just the right spot, so you don’t crack the shell open and spill the juice on the ground. Then you drain the juice through a strainer into containers for further straining and processing in the kitchen.
Then you have to split the coconuts again, this time lengthwise into two halves. Then you carve out the white “meat” from inside the shell.
“This reminds me a lot of butchering a pig,” I said to Elizabeth today. Which I saw in my on a European farms in my childhood.
“First you have to kill the pig, then drain the blood, clean out the entrails and other unwanted stuff, then you split the carcass and rinse it out. And then you start butchering the meat.”
She laughed and agreed. The one big difference is – no animal gets killed and there is no blood. Only juices and oil – both of high medical not just culinary value.
In the final phase, I bring the “meat” and the “milk” (juice) to the kitchen for Elizabeth to start using her creative culinary skills.
She turns them into roasted chips, akin to french fries, but baked, not fried. Or grinds some up into a smoothie. Or makes coconut popsicles. Or smooshes them up into a paste like butter that we would enjoy for breakfast with a Lilikoi (passion fruit) topping. Which she also makes after I bring them up from the gulch where our Lilikoi thrive.
So this today, I did the first 10 of the 15 coconuts I set aside yesterday for our own use. It took me over three hours of HARD WORK just to get to the kitchen stage.
Why hard work?
Because the coconuts are as tough as any piece of wood I have ever hit with an ax. Worse, they are resilient. They give. They are wiry and flexible.
Sometimes the ax doesn’t even cut them. Even though you swing it as hard as you can, at times it just bounces off of them. So you have to keep hitting them over and over again until the finally yield and reveal their precious treasures inside.
Which, needless to say, can be exhausting, especially on a hot and humid day like today.
* * *
UPDATE AUG 27, 2016
COCONUT HARVEST 2016: DELICIOUS COCONUT BREAD
Today, I finished the “butchering” phase of the 15 coconuts I had set aside for our own use. At the same time, Elizabeth was being creative in the kitchen.
Today, she made three loaves of DELICIOUS coconut bread. Which actually tastes almost like a cake because of the high sugar content in the coconut.
“It’s so blonde,” Elizabeth remarked looking at the bread.
“Of course, it is,” I agreed. “All of its main ingredients are white.”
Also see… COCONUT HARVEST DAY 2015 AND SPIKELESS COCONUT HARVEST IN 2014