The fruit harvested from the coconut tree, which lives for 70 years, producing thousands of coconuts. The white flesh of the fruit is the coconut meat. The center contains a watery liquid coconut juice which is often sipped straight from the coconut. Coconut milk is made by simmering equal parts water and shredded coconut meat, then squeezing and straining the thick liquid remaining. Coconut cream is the same as coconut milk with a richer proportion of coconut to water (4 to 1)
Fresh coconut is available year round but October through December is their peak season. Packaged coconut (sweetened or unsweetened, shredded or flaked, dry or moist) can be found with baking ingredients in the store and need to be refrigerated once opened.
Grated fresh coconut should be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to a week and in the freezer for 6 months. Whole coconuts can be stored at room temperature for up to 6 months.
One medium coconut will yield 3 to 4 cups of grated meat. To extract the juice of the coconut (not to be confused with coconut milk), pierce two of the three indentations, or eyes, at one end with an icepick.
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