Young coconut meat is the gelatinous edible part on the inside of a green coconut. This meat varies in texture and color, from a white gelatin-like material that is dense enough to be sliced to a nearly transparent, runny gel. It can be bought at some food stores in fresh or canned form. It is a common ingredient in many dishes, including desserts, salads and cocktails. The coconut is usually served raw, although it is sometimes used as an ingredient in some Thai curries.
This fruit is commonly found canned at grocery stores serving Asian communities. Young coconut meat can also be harvested from whole young coconuts, which are found fresh in most well-stocked produce sections. When they are sold fresh, young coconuts are generally off-white and fibrous on the outside. Young coconuts look this way because they are sold with the green outer husk already removed. In contrast, a mature coconut has a hard, bark-like outer shell with dense, white meat inside.
When they are sold in stores, these coconuts usually come wrapped in clear plastic wrap. The fruit is contained inside a hard shell that is located inside the fibrous outer hull. Young coconut meat is so soft that it can be scooped from the coconut with a spoon. When a young coconut has not yet had time to develop gelatinous meat, it contains only liquid inside.
Desserts that have this ingredient include young coconut tapioca, cakes, and pies. Young coconut meat is also blended into drinks, like cocktails and smoothies. It is a common replacement ingredient in vegan and raw food diets, and it appears in many in fruit salads and fruit cocktails.
A well-known Indonesian drink, es teler, contains this jelly-like meat, mixed with jackfruit, grass jelly and a plant flavoring called pandan in a bath of sweetened coconut milk and condensed milk. Some recipes also contain sugar palm fruit and avocado. This drink is served in a cocktail glass with a straw.
Young coconut is not the only popular gelatinous coconut food. Often flavored with other types of fruit, coconut jelly is a common gelatinous coconut food that is also spread on toast. Another gel-like coconut ingredient that is used in some dishes is called nata de coco. This dish resembles young coconut meat in its whitish-clear and jelly-like appearance, but it is actually made by fermenting coconut milk. It is most commonly eaten in its country of origin, the Philippines.