(Cocos nucifera)



Harvest while young or leave to ripen and fall with maturity. Immature nuts may be selected with green, light yellow or orange surface color. It should have a light sound when flicked or tapped (indicates soft flesh and juice flavor). Mature nuts are selected if they have a dry, light-brown outer husk, usually when they fall on the ground, and should also contain some coconut water, which is only sometimes consumed. Toddy is selected when the flower bud is clean, free of insects and before the flowers have begun to ferment (“Coconut: Pacific food leaflet no.4,” 2006; Malolo et al., 2001).


Immature nuts are best used soon after picking or kept in a cool place. Keep husked nuts and coconut cream in a cooler or refrigerator. Un-husked mature nuts should be removed from sunlight and kept cool. Fresh toddy can only be preserved if boiled down to a thick syrup and stored in a sterilized bottle (“Coconut: Pacific food leaflet no.4,” 2006; Malolo et al., 2001).


  • Cut the husk off the “eye” end of an immature coconut with a sharp, heavy knife to create a small hole for pouring/drinking the juice.
  • Crack the nut open by cutting the tip of the shell orpiercing the big eye with a sharp heavy knife
  • Scrape out the flesh with a specially cut piece ofgreen husk or spoon.
  • Young coconut is eaten fresh as a snack or as aningredient in desserts like fruit salad and is an excellent baby food.
  • Young coconut may also be baked or fermented andeaten with other foods like fish
  • Mature nuts must be husked fully then cracked inhalf by first hitting the mid-point between the top and bottom along the vein that runs between the ‘eyes’.
  • Grate the halves using a rough, serrated tip scraperor machine grater.
  • Grated mature coconut may be fermented for foodflavoring, or squeezed with warm water at room temperature to extract coconut cream/milk .
  • For fresh toddy, tap the flower bud (spathe) and bindit to the flower bud almost to the tip to trim off the end. Hang a coconut shell or container at the end to catch the sap. Paper-thin shavings may be sliced off twice a day to continue the flow of dripping sap
  • (“Coconut: Pacific food leaflet no.4,” 2006; Malolo et al., 2001; Parkinson, Tunidau, & Chand, 1992; Snowdon, 2003).

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The coconut tree is revered as a symbol of the PacificIslands and is considered the “tree of life” or “divine tree” because of its cultural significance, economic importance and wide-ranging usefulness. It thrives in the mild tropical climates, coral sands, and volcanic soils and is a source of food, drink and shelter (Lambert, 1970; Snowdon, 2003). Coconut trees grow in many different varieties, such as ‘talls’, ‘dwarfs’, or hybrids between them, and produce varieties of large and small nuts throughout the year.

Traditional Names
  • Chamorro – niyok
  • Hawaiian – niu
  • Kosraean – nu; kaki
  • Marshallese – nii
  • Palauan – lius; mengur
  • Pohnpeian – uhpw; mwangas
  • Samoan – niu
  • Yapese – uchub; liu