When we think about coconut products, some of the first things coming up are coconut water, coconut oil and coconut milk. Each of them is wonderful in their own way and packed with health benefits.
But did you know that every single part of the coconut can be used for something?
From coconut flower, coir, husk, shell, meat to water – coconuts provide us with so much goodness. In today’s article I discuss the amazing, versatile uses of coconut, many of them going back thousands of years.
I made this coco infographic so that you can see where each part comes from:
Coconut coir and coconut husk
This is the part of the coconut between the outside layer of the fruit and the coconut shell.
Coconuts come in different shades of green and brown depending on the age of the coconut.
The older the coconut, the drier and browner it will be and the coir also changes properties.
Green (young) coconuts produce flexible, but not so strong coir fibers.
Brown (mature) coconuts produce less flexible but very strong coir fibers.
The fibers from the young coconut make a good material to produce fishing nets, brushes and strings.
Ropes are produced from the coir of mature coconuts.
It can be further processed into mattress filling for natural, sustainable mattresses. These high-quality, healthy mattresses are very durable, comfortable and allow the air to pass through.
Coconut coir is a popular material in gardening. It makes an excellent plant soil enrichment and growing medium. It’s sustainable, has a very favorable pH level, is easy to work with, retains a lot of water and is resistant to rotting.
It is also used to produce flower and plant pots.
Other things made from coconut fibres are carpets, rugs and mats, such as those typical brown doormats.
Coconut husk can be used as fuel instead of materials such as wood. It has a pleasant smell and purifying properties.
One of the most popular recent uses of coconut husk is activated charcoal which is applied to naturally whiten teeth.
It’s a black powder that is mixed with other ingredients such as coconut oil. When you brush your teeth with it it removes stains and whitens them.
Charcoal can also be made from coconut shell.
Coconut husk is further used to make handicraft, as a filter for aquariums and terrariums and can help repel mosquitos.
This is the part of the coconut between the coconut husk and the white coconut meat.
You might have seen those beautiful coconut bowls used to serve smoothies and other food in – these are made from coconut shells.
Perfectly imperfectly shaped by nature, they only need a bit of finishing and make a unique, natural, sustainable bowl.
Spoons and other utensils are also made from this material.
Coconut shells are also used to make musical instruments, handicraft and houses for little pets who seem to love them.
Before the coconut palm grows a coconut, it is initially a coconut flower.
This part of the coconut produces many sweet products.
The juice from the flower buds is heated until it becomes coconut syrup, also known as Toddy, which is used as a natural sweetener.
Coconut syrup can be further processed to make coconut sugar, coconut candy, coconut wine, coconut sap juice and coconut vinegar.
Coconut vinegar can also be made from coconut water and is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine.
This is the liquid found in green coconuts of between 6-10 months old.
The taste changes according to the age of the coconut; the older the sweeter.
Coconut water is very hydrating and nutritious. It contains electrolytes, important minerals such as magnesium, potassium and calcium which are essential for the balance of fluids in our body.
Older coconuts also contain water. You can usually still drink it, but it can become more acidic and is less nutritious than water from young coconuts.
Very young coconuts contain only water. When the coconut is about 7 months old it starts to form soft meat known as coconut jelly. It’s very tender and tasty.
When the coconut matures, the jelly becomes thicker and eventually becomes hard, crunchy coconut meat.
Accounting for the majority of uses of coconut, this part of the fruit forms the base for a large variety of products.
Coconut meat can be eaten by itself and also forms the base for many coconut products. Some of the most known are coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut ice-cream, coconut butter, coconut candy, shredded coconut and coconut chips.
More about edible coconut products can be found in this article.
More uses of the tree of life
Other parts of the coconut tree are used as well; the leaves are used to make hats, baskets, roofs, food trays, home accessories and disposable plates.
The roots have traditionally been used for medicinal purpose, to make toothbrushes, as natural dye and mouthwash.
The trunk is used to make furniture and as a cheaper alternative to hardwood to build houses and boats.
The many amazing uses of coconut are a true gift from nature.
Coconuts have been an important part of human life throughout history. They represent a valuable source of food, drinks, shelter, fuel and livelihood in many parts of the world.
Nowadays products such as coconut water and coconut oil are becoming more and more popular.
It’s a good thing that more people become aware of its wonderful properties and have access to these products. At the same time we need to be mindful about its sustainable, ethical production so that many more future generations can benefit from this amazing plant!
What are your favorite uses of coconut and coconut products? Share it with the coco community on Instagram or Facebook @coconutqueendom