What Is Coconut Jelly?
Coconut jelly is the fermented gel from the coconut’s water that undergoes microbial cellulose production. The jelly itself is found in the coconut- a member of the Arecaceae family, which is said to be perennial- and is either soft or solid but chewy in texture depending on the maturity of the coconut.
Green Vs Matured Coconuts
Coconuts are known binomially as coco nucifera and have a brown and slightly smooth (sometimes have wrinkles) exocarp (skin/outer layer) when it’s mature. But under the exocarp, there’s the fibrous husk called the mesocarp that will have to be broken away to reveal the normally seen brown, hairy and hard outer shell of the coconut.
At maturity (12 months and over) it has a more solidified meat/pulp that is quite chewy yet milky in flavor and white. While green coconuts tend to be green or yellow during their transition to maturity.
The pulp within a green coconut is more jelly-like than in its matured form. Where the jelly-like pulp and the water from it can be consumed after about 7-8 months of maturity. Just a keynote, the pulp and water are the only edible part of the coconut. Everything else should be discarded.
What Does Coconut Jelly Taste Like?
Sometimes, the jelly is white or translucent and soft but sometimes chewy if the jelly meat/pulp is more solid (when at a higher maturity level). So, if it is light and translucent the flavor is usually sweet and silky to the taste buds. But if harder and white it usually starts to taste milky yet sweet.
Many people mostly use coconut jelly to eat raw but also in fruit salads, smoothies, or things like jello. An interesting note for some is that people (specifically, moms) use the slightly matured coconut jelly as milk for lactose intolerant babies. Don’t worry we’ll get more into that later; we definitely won’t leave you hanging.
Coconut Matured Pulp
You will find more uses for this as it is mostly used for culinary usage. You will find that many people use it in seafood dishes, sauces, one pot, and more! Have you guys ever tasted or cooked some real nice Jamaican rice and peas? What about the gungo peas (also known as pigeon pea) version? Well, here’s what I like to call it, the life of the kitchen! It’s recipe time!
- Read About The Difference Between Coconut Milk And Coconut Cream
- How To Make Coconut Milk 2 Ways
- How To Make Coconut Whipped Cream
- Make Coconut Condensed Milk
Coconut Jelly Milk
For this recipe, I personally know of people that use this method to provide a form of milk to their kids to eat in their cereal. It’s quick and easy!
- When purchasing the green coconut ask the vendor to chop the coconut in half and preserve the water for further usage in a container. Carry the coconut home then wash it.
- Scoop out the white pulp with a spoon from the inside of the coconut then place inside of a clean blender. You don’t have to cut the pulp into pieces because it’s not so hard as the dried and matured version but if you prefer to cut them in pieces then go ahead.
- Remember the coconut water from before? This is the reason why I said to save it. Pour 750ml of the coconut water into the blender and cover. If you don’t have any coconut water then use filtered water.
- Blend thoroughly until it seems smooth.
- Pour the mixture into a small pot then heat for 5-6 minutes.
- Pour the mixture into a clean container through a strainer, so that it catches any remaining residue. Strain well.
- Allow to cool for a bit then you can use it accordingly for your child or yourself!
- Bon Appétit!
Traditional Jamaican Rice Gungo peas
I personally cook this almost every Sunday! It’s like a norm or tradition for us Jamaicans anywhere we go. Without further ado, let’s get to it!
- gungo peas
- Soaked overnight peas (filtered water, salt, and one clove of garlic-optional)
- One green scotch bonnet pepper
- 1 dried coconut
- Any brand browning
- Get/purchase a dried coconut from your local farmer’s market or supermarket near you.
- Hit the coconut hard against a solid surface until the coconut breaks into pieces- be careful of the water! It will splash. Avoid tile or marble areas, especially weak boards; concrete is most preferable.
- Use a butter knife and start to lift the husk/shell off the coconut’s fried pulp. You do this by placing the knife between the testa (out a brown layer of the pulp) and the shell of the coconut. Fun fact -to do this action Jamaicans say ‘husk out di coconut!’
- Once, all the shells are removed, it’s time to wash the coconut.
- Place the pieces into a bowl.
- At this stage you have two options; either grater the pieces (traditional method) or cut the coconut into small cubes then blend with filtered water.
- If you chose the grater method, add 200 ml of water then juice and strain. Re-juice the trash consecutively, two more times. Each time adding less water (decrease by 100 ml then 50ml).
- If you chose to blend the coconut then strain the contents through a strainer into a bowl.
- Use only a small portion of the coconut milk (around 150ml) to pour into your pressure cooker.
- Add your presoaked (from overnight) red peas or gungo peas whichever you chose to the milk in the pressure cooker. And yes, even the water that the peas were soaked in should be added.
- Add just four small stick pieces of thyme and stir. Taste and see if it will need a pinch of salt as a pep up.
- Pressure for 8-10 minutes- start clocking once the pressure cooker starts to whistle. Once the time has elapsed turn it off then allow it to cool for 5 minutes before attempting to open it.
- Put on another pot with the remaining coconut milk and enhancers like thyme (2 pieces), a green-colored scotch bonnet pepper (optional but adds a lot of flavors), one stalk scallion (basically 3-4 shoots connected to one root). Ensure that the scallion is slit vertically. Allow to heat until the ‘seasoned’ coconut milk starts to bubble/boil.
- Pour all contents of the pressured peas into the boiling pot of coconut milk and stir. Be careful when pouring though!
- Allow the pot to heat up some more before adding your prewashed rice to it. Please note that the amount of rice that can be cooked is dependent on the level of the mixture that is now boiling. So, usually with the amount of water used earlier, would suffice for typically 3 cups of rice.
- Once, you see the pot bubbling then you can add this extra ingredient- ½ teaspoon of browning or 3 drops. Stir then add the washed rice; then gently stir again.
- Cover the pot until it cooks. A trick that I know and practice in which the older generation use, is to wash a clear plastic bag (doesn’t have to be clear) then place it over the rice once all the water while cooking is gone. Normally, takes about 20 minutes to cook. Check at five-minute intervals.
- After this period of time, your rice and peas should be ready.
- Bon Appétit! Don’t forget to clean up!
Other Recipes With Coconut Milk
There are really amazing health benefits and substances/components within coconuts that make you go wow! Are you ready to find out? Let’s go!
Nutritional Profile for coconut jelly
- Fat (Majorly medium-chain triglycerides-MCTs)
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B9 (Folate)
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Gallic acid
- Caffeic acid
- Salicylic acid
- P-coumaric acid
What about coconut water?
- Dietary Fiber
- Vitamin C
Please note that the above-listed components are subjected to addition, meaning there are more components found within coconuts than what is stated above. Example phenolic compounds.
Health Benefits of Coconut Jelly
Consuming the water is very good to your body that contains electrolytes and micronutrients but so does the jelly! I know that in Jamaica, once buying from a vendor you can request the meat/pulp either separated or in the water. Which might I add is quite the treat! But let’s jump right to the top 3 health benefits of this delectable treat.
Top 3 health benefits of coconut jelly
- Pocket blaster of antioxidants
I can not get enough of ever writing how good antioxidants are for your body! The coconut jelly is rich in antioxidants which I always boast stating that they help to stop aging, fight against deadly diseases and neutralize free radicals. What are free radicals? These are atoms with one unpaired valence electron in their outer shell which are highly reactive. But what causes them? Things like; exposure to UV light, smoke, and chemical processes in the body-example oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that produces free radicals, which by now you know are dangerous for cells in your body. They cause health problems like cancer, cataract, and even cardiovascular and inflammatory disease. But how do the antioxidants work? Antioxidants track down free radicals and neutralize their disparaging effects. They do this by giving up some of their free electrons in order to pair with the unpaired valance electron from a free radical (without becoming a free radical themselves), which acts as a power-off button. This aids to keep more of the body’s cells healthy and less susceptible to diseases like cancer.
- Improves the immune system
A robust immune system helps your body to fight against; infections, toxins, viruses, bacteria, and more! What is the immune system made up of? Your immune system is made up mostly of the thymus, bone marrow, lymph nodes, white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, and the spleen.
All of which are vital to your body. iron, Vitamin B6, B9, C, and E, zinc, selenium, and protein- gives an enormous boost to your immune system. The best part coconut jelly has them all! Therefore, all of these components in return helps to; repair damaged cells, create and activate T ‘killer’ cells that activate other helper cells, helps to create other white blood cells, mitigate and fight against bacteria, viruses, diseases, and other microorganisms.
- Potentially improves heart health
Coconut pulp when matured contains more concentration of coconut oil than in green coconut. However, the good thing is that this oil lowers high cholesterol and protects the heart from diseases. Other components in coconut jelly also help with this, for example- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine).
Now that we got into the top 3 amazing health benefits of coconut jelly let’s see what else it may do for us.
Other health benefits
- May help with weight loss
- May assist with regulating high blood pressure (hypertension)
- May assist with regulating blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
- May improve brain functionality
- May improve digestion/the digestive system
- Reduce inflammation
- May lower bad cholesterol
Some Additional Health Benefits -coconut water
- Reduces headaches
- Alleviate dehydration
- Energy booster
- Low glycemic level
- Strong antioxidants
- May improve heart health
- Good for hangovers
- May prevent kidney stone formation
- Improves skin health
- Strengthen bones
- Helps to relieve nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
One of the best things about coconut is that the season is dependent on when it was cultivated. Because it’s a tropical crop, in those regions you can get it all year round!
Matured and green unopened coconuts can be stored for about 3½ months at room temperature. Coconut jelly can be stored for about 1 day when refrigerated but weeks frozen. To store coconut jelly, you should keep them in a resealable zipper bag. Which is the same for grated coconut, except when frozen it can last up to about five months.
Where to buy it
You can always get coconut jelly, specifically in the tropical regions where it is grown abundantly, at your local farmer’s market, supermarket, or street vendors in the Caribbean.
Nata de coco, also known as coconut gel and coconut jelly, is a great little snack to consume. Or as the popular Jamaican colloquial slang states ‘it av a buzz!’ meaning it’s very appealing. But remember too much of something can sometimes lead to adverse reactions! So, eat in moderation. We hope this article was a great help to you because we didn’t just touch on coconut jelly but also on a coconut on a whole and its water. But sadly, it’s that time again, where we say our au revoirs until next time. And as we Jamaicans like to say ‘bless up urselves an walk gud!’ Meaning is be blessed and stay safe!
Other Tropical Fruits
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Love the recipe.
Thank you Ella, I’m so happy you do.