The use of coconuts

The coconut has always been an important resource of nature for the tropical communities. Best known are the husk for ropes and the coconut flesh, water, milk and oil.

The use of coconut oil around the world in tropical regions is prolific: South and Central America, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Micro-, Mela- and Polynesia and most of Asia. Early European explorers, including Captain Cook, wrote affectionately about the beauty of communities across the Pacific using coconut oil as an integral part of their daily lives. After the war, coconut oil was sold in England as “margarine” and in the USA as “coconut butter”.

However, this all changed around 1954, even though it has been known for nearly a century that coconut oil is more nutritious than other oils.

Over many decades coconut oil received bad publicity due to its saturated fat content, but what the proponents of “saturated fat is bad for you” did not do was to differentiate between the three different types of saturated fat.  All the saturated fats were simply generalised under one category, ignoring the fact that some saturated fat is in fact necessary for human health. However, nowadays coconut is again considered as being highly nutritious and young coconuts have also been exceedingly revered as having medicinal qualities for heart, liver and kidney disorders.

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Coconuts can be very dangerous. Each year worldwide 600 people are killed from falling coconuts. In comparison to shark fatalities, this seems like a lot, as sharks only account for 6 deaths per year, worldwide. Luckily there are more positive things to report about coconuts. The water inside the coconut is sterile, and in case of emergencies, it can be directly injected into the bloodstream. An adult can survive several years on a diet of only coconuts, although one might wonder how appetizing it would be after a short period of time.


Coir, the fibrous husk of the coconut, is used in a surprisingly large number of ways: ropes and yarns, aquarium filters, car seat covers, flower pots, soundproofing, mulch for plant growing, heat insulation, brushes, bristles, mattresses, door mats and matting, rugs, carpets… the list goes on and on!

Coconut oil, desiccated coconut, fresh coconut and copra are the primary products of coconut, while by-products include copra meal, activated carbon, coconut shell charcoal and coconut coir and coir dust. Coconut end products include detergents soaps, shampoo, hair wax, toothpaste, cosmetics, margarine, candy, sauces, cooking oil, confectionery, vinegar, chips, soap, and nata de coco. Coconut intermediates include oleochemicals such as fatty acids and fatty alcohols.

Here at the monkey college, we have recently begun making our own fresh, cold pressed coconut oil. Our oil is suitable for consumption and cosmetic use because it is cold pressed and not perfumed. It is also ideal for cooking and can be used in a wide variety of ways, such as salad dressings, curries, soups and baked goods. Deep frying food in coconut oil is a healthier and more delicious option, than other conventional cooking oils. The oil can also be used as massage oil, hair treatment oil and mouth wash.

Our Oil is available for sale in small quantities. Please, click here for more information.

How to open a coconut

Some people try to get into a coconut by banging on it with a hammer. Others suggest poking holes in the eyes to drain the liquid before hammering. This sounds like a good idea, but if you have tried it before, you may have discovered it isn’t quite so easy. The eyes are small and the surrounding shell quite thick and hard. After much effort to jab them with a sharp object or puncture them with a nail, you may end up with a slow trickle, taking a lot longer to drain all the liquid out than you may have patience for.

A quick and easy, no-nonsense way to crack a coconut is to use a cleaver. Holding it with one hand such that the “midriff” rests in the middle of your palm, with the tip on one end and the eyes on the other, whack the coconut with the back of the cleaver a few times all around the center until it cracks open cleanly into two nearly equal halves. Make sure you use the blunt side of the cleaver. Do this over a bowl in the sink to catch the juice as it drains from the cracks. If the juice tastes fresh and sweet, enjoy it as a refreshment by itself or reserve for use in extracting cream from the flesh. Check out our video.