Glossary Item: Coconut
Jamaicans use coconut in many dishes, the water, the milk, young jelly and hard flesh. Green coconuts yield coconut water, high in potassium. Coconut milk, the white juice from dried coconut, is used in cooking our 'Jamaican Coat of Arms' rice and peas (kidney beans), mackerel Rundown, curried dishes and many other Jamaican favourites. Coconut oil, the base of Jamaican cookery up to two decades ago, is made from coconut milk. A tasty cream is made from coconut milk, and is served with baked bananas and coffee. Copra, a by-product of coconut, makes soap. The fibrous coir of the dry coconut husk was used for mattresses, but is now an integral part of the potting soil for our beautiful anthurium, and other potted plants. The coconut tree has many uses. In earlier times, and sometimes even today, the long shiny leaves were plaited to make a welcome arch for weddings. The spear of the leaves are stripped and used to string the hibiscus petal in vases, forming a welcome bouquet in many Jamaican hotel foyers. The mesh on the base of the tree can be used as a strainer. Immature coconuts were (and sometimes still are) used to clean beautiful wooden floors and some dried nuts are made into ornaments which are sold in craft shops and along roadsides.
The shell of the dry coconut is used for fuel or as a container for attractive dishes.