The tropical freshness of coconuts reminds us of a fine hot summer day. Coconut trees have it all. From root to leaves, everything is useful. That’s why it is called “the tree of life.”
One of the exciting parts of a coconut tree is its fruit. The coconut meat and its water is the best part of this tree! And the coconut water is not something you should underestimate. Coconut water is the liquid endosperm inside a coconut that works in the development of the hard endosperm.
Coconut water is taken out from either young or mature coconut fruit. This clear, delicious, refreshing coconut water is packed with excellent benefits that it can give to your health. It contains essential nutrients like fat, carbohydrates, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, vitamin C, and fiber. It contains electrolytes that can help with diarrhea and dehydration. Other people use coconut water as part of their weight loss diet because it contains low calories and has enzymes that can help metabolize fat. Coconut water can also help relieve hangover and migraines, regulate the body’s pH levels, and act as a diuretic.
In the culinary world, coconut water is used to enhance rice and pasta dishes giving it a nutty and sweet taste.
In case you got it mixed up, coconut water is different from coconut milk or coconut oil. Coconut milk and coconut oil are extracted from grated mature coconut meat.
For a fresh source of coconut water, you have to find a young coconut fruit. If you’re lucky enough, you might find a fruit-bearing coconut tree near you. And, it doesn’t mean you have to necessarily go to the tropics to get it. But if these are inaccessible in your area, you can find some coconut water in pre-packed drinks at the grocery stores.
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How to store coconut water?
Let’s start with fresh coconut water.
Fresh coconut water either harvested from the young or mature fruit is highly perishable. If you want to save for later consumption, you should strain the water through a cheesecloth-lined sieve once you open the coconut and place the water in a freezer-safe airtight container. It’s up to you whether you prefer storing it in the refrigerator or freezer.
In refrigerating, some people place the coconut water first in the freezer, uncovered for 30 minutes. Then, they take it out of the freezer and seal the container before refrigerating it.
As for the bottled or tetra-packed coconut water, you don’t have to go through so much effort to store it because these kinds of products are shelf-stable since it’s made up of water coconut-derived sugar. Just keep the unopened pack or bottle in a cool and dry area like in a food pantry or in a kitchen cabinet. Make sure to keep these packs away from sources of heat and away from direct sunlight.
And if you have already opened a container of coconut water, you will have to keep it in the refrigerator this time.
How long does it last?
Coconut water directly acquired from a freshly crack-opened coconut will only last for 1-2 days. Experts suggest that you should not leave it outside the refrigerator for more than 3 or 4 hours, or else, it will lose its fresh quality. It’s better to consume everything after it is opened or refrigerate immediately if you do not use it in the next hours.
If we’re talking about packed or bottled coconut water, it’s best to check the “best buy” or expiration date on the food label. It will tell you how long this product will retain the best quality, and you’ll have an idea of how long you are allowed to keep it in your pantry.
Can you still drink it after its expiration date? Yes, you still can. Before doing so, be sure that it was appropriately stored and show no signs of damages.
An unopened coconut water bottle can last a few months to a year, depending on the manufacturer. Its quality will deteriorate fast in just 3 to 5 days once you open the bottle in the refrigerator and only a few hours at room temperature.
How to tell if it has gone bad?
For people living in the tropics, it is best to drink coconut water in its natural and fresh state. A freshly opened coconut water has a sweet, pleasant, and refreshing aroma and a lovely nutty taste. To know if your coconut water has gone bad, you have to check the color, smell, or appearance.
Whether it is fresh or bottled, here are few signs you should know what it likes if your coconut water has gone bad:
- If it has a strong fermented smell, then that’s a sign that it’s not fresh for consumption anymore.
- If the coconut water has gone thick and shows signs of bubbling, get rid of it because carbonation has begun.
- If the flavor has become sour and utterly different from the refreshing coconut water, discard it.
Sometimes, coconut water turns pink because its antioxidants in the water had probably interacted with light. Can you still drink it? Yes, it is safe to drink.
There are times the coconut fruit has already gone when you open it. That would mean that it may have been contaminated with bacteria.
But how can bacteria get into the hard shell of the coconut? If you notice that the coconuts have eye-like holes on the end stem, that is where molds, bacteria can thrive.
What will happen if I freeze coconut water?
Yes, you can freeze coconut water, but it’s not necessary, though. You can freeze it if you feel you will not consume the rest for the next few days.
The downside of freezing coconut water, it won’t taste that good after thawing it. The flavor will surely change. That’s why some would suggest that you either consume everything rather than storing it for the next few days.
How to prolong the shelf life of fresh coconut water?
Yes, fresh coconut water is highly perishable. And several preservation techniques are used to prolong its shelf-life for specific purposes.
Ultra-High Temperature (UHT). This involves quickly heating the coconut water for 2 to 45 seconds under 130 degrees C to 150 degrees C. This is how bottled coconut water was processed to become shelf-stable for at least one year.
Cold Preservation. Coconut water undergoes processes such as filtration, bottling, and temperature to extend its freshness for 10 days to 3 weeks and without altering its natural flavor.
Microfiltration. Coconut water undergoes a physical filtration process wherein it passes through a pore-sized membrane to filter out microorganisms and suspended particles.