Nata de Coco
Nata de coco is a chewy, translucent, jelly-like food product produced by the fermentation of coconut water, which gels through the production of microbial cellulose by Acetobacter xylinus. Nata de coco is most commonly sweetened as a candy or dessert, and can accompany many or garnish many food and drinks such as iced drinks, ice cream, puddings, fruit mixes, and the popular halo-halo.
An original product of the Philippines, the name nata de coco comes from Spanish “cream of coconut.” Cream in this sense means the fat from the coconut milk. Nata de coco is know for its high dietary fiber and is low in fat and cholesterol content. Strips of nata de coco are used in mass-produced bubble tea drinks as a healthier alternative to tapioca.
The production of nata de coco involves the extraction of coconut water, fermentation of the coconut water with bacterial cultures, and separating and cutting the produced mat of nata de coco. The strips are cut in bite-sized dice shapes and are cleaned of the acetic acid remnants. Commercial nata de coco is made by small farms in the Philippines. (Source: Wikipedia)
Mabuhay ang pagkaing Pinoy!
In the Philippines, buko (young coconut) juice is the ultimate thirst quencher, found almost anywhere in a country that relies on the earnings of its coconut industry.
Coconut water or “buko juice” is actually not the juice pressed from coconuts but the clear liquid inside young coconuts. As the fruit matures, the coconut water gradually is replaced by the coconut meat and air. A very young coconut has very little meat which is very tender, almost gel-like in its consistency. Coconut water has long been a popular drink in the tropics, especially in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, such as Hawaii and the Caribbean.
Coconut juice is naturally fat-free and low in food energy (16.7 calories or 70 kilojoules per 100 grams).
Bottoms up for buko juice!
Copra, the dried meat or kernel of the coconut, is the lifeblood of the Philippines’ agricultural exports.
The word copra is derived from Malayalam, India where coconut oil production is also widespread. Coconut oil is traditionally extracted by grating or grinding copra, then boiling it in water. Today the process of coconut oil extraction is done by crushing copra to produce coconut oil (70%); the by-product is known as copra cake or copra meal (30%) (from Wikipedia).
Making copra – removing the shell, breaking up, drying – is usually done right in the coconut plantations. While there are some large plantations with integrated operations in the Philippines, copra production remains primarily in the hands of medium-sized entrepreneurs. The Philippines is also known as the biggest exporter of copra, and is one of the world’s countries where coconut oil remains the staple ingredient for cooking.
Mabuhay ang copra!
Fermented coconut sap or 'tuba'
Tuba (pronounced as “two– ba“) is fermented coconut sap, a strong heady drink that has the taste of sweet-sour cider.
Philippine farmers and coconut growers harvest fresh coconut sap by cutting or slitting the stems of young coconut flowers, draining or trapping the sap in bamboo containers. The sap is poured in glass bottles or terracotta containers for a few days to ferment.
Depending on preference, the longer the fermentation (5 to 10 days) the stronger the taste. If left much longer the fermented sap turns acidic and can be used as table vinegar, known in the Philippines as sukang puti or white vinegar.
Mabuhay ang tuba!
Matamis na Bao (literally ‘sweet coco shell) or sweet coconut jam evokes the many good things about the lowly coconut.
The jam is only one of the many side products made from the coconut and one can fill up a long list of useful coco by-products. Coco jam is a mainstay ingredient in or accompaniment for many native Philippine desserts.
Unrefined cane sugar and coconut milk are the main old-fashioned ingredients to make the jam’s caramel-like sweetness. Before Western-styled chocolates has invaded the Philippine dessert table, a typical breakfast or snack in bygone years used to be the pan-de-sal filled with coconut jam.
Bao is the shell of the coconut and a natural packaging material for the jam. Glass jars, of course, have replaced natural packaging materials such as the bao, but somehow the named has sticked around.
Dip your fingers to a sticky bowl of coco jam and experience finger-licking ecstasy (not the crystal or powdered sort)!
Mabuhay ang Coco Jam!