Coconut water is delicious in its own way, though it’s not all that well known in places where coconuts aren’t abundant. And because of that, it may even spark some confusion among many possible customers. One of the most confusing things about coconut water is its varying degrees of pink. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not, and it can put people off. Let’s find out why that is.
Why is coconut water pink ?
Coconut water can turn pink due to enzymes (polyphenol oxidase, or PPO) that control oxidation, just like in apples. In coconuts those enzymes have a pigment that produces a slightly red coloring, which shows up as pink. This is why not all coconut water is pink, since not all of them have had time to oxidize.
Oxidation occurs during transport or when exposed to high heat (also common during transport). This means your can find natural, unprocessed coconut water in any hue from slightly white to light pink. There’s nothing wrong with it, the taste is not different, it’s just changing color. The more it sits on the shelf, the deeper the color will be.
Younger coconuts (like green ones) have a much higher chance of developing pink water than mature coconuts.
What fresh coconut water looks like
When coconut water is fresh, just cracked, it’s always a slightly cloudy liquid with a whitish hue about it. You won’t get pink coconut water out of a freshly opened green coconuts.
Fresh coconut water, unprocessed, will always have a fairly short shelf life, something like a couple of days. You can find it in all sorts of packaging versions, from clear bottles to cans to cartons. One thing they all have in common: no preservatives, no heat treatment. Just a coconut that’s been cracked and the water poured into those sealed containers.
You’ll always find fresh coconut water in the fridge section of a supermarket.
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Don’t go for the overly pink coconut water
Always check the label of what you’re buying. Not the front label, the back one with the ingredients. True, fresh coconut water should only have coconut water as an ingredient. If you see any sort of natural flavoring, preservatives, natural coloring added put it back down. It’s not inherently evil, it’s just not fresh coconut water and it’s misleading.
Some brands bank on the whole pink coconut water and turn it into a schtick. They purposefully color their water an obvious shade of pink or magenta. Whether this is done as a way to make the drink more attractive or a way to hide the slight pink hue with a stronger color, we’re not sure.
Why is coconut water sweet ?
Coconut water is naturally sweet due to the presence of sugars that the nut develops as it matures. The sweetness is not abundant but can definitely be felt when taking a sip of the water. In fact, coconut water tastes more than a bit sweet, it also tastes a little nutty and a tiny bit salty.
It has a very well rounded flavor and it’s actually very filling. You can’t really drink a whole coconut in one go like you would a water bottle, it’s just too much.
And there’s an upside to this, because you can use coconut water and pineapple juice to get a perfectly fresh and natural pina colada (alcohol-free).
Coconut water substitute
There are times when you’re going to reach for the coconut water and there’s none left. In many cases you can simply substitute the coconut water, and we’re here to give you three ideas on what to use. IT depends on why you’re planning to do with the coconut water, since the flavor may change. Here’s what we mean.
In terms of flavor maple water is the closest you can get to coconut water without actually getting coconut water. This is the sap that runs through the maple trees when the ice thaws, and it’s what’s used for maple syrup. In fact, maple syrup is just maple water that is simmered for hours on end under very careful scrutinizing.
Compared to coconut water maple water is less sweet and less flavorful, so adjust your recipe accordingly. If you can’t find maple water then birch water will do just fine.
You can also get the biggest watermelon you can find, and press the meat inside to get a whole lot of water. The water is flavorful, very sweet, and plentiful. In fact watermelons are mostly just their water, so you have a lot to work with.
If you’re making something fruity and with a summery, tropical twist then watermelon water will definitely give you what you’re looking for. And it also freezes very well, meaning you can make some amazing ice cubes out of it. You can cut up and freeze watermelon flesh to use as ice cubes !
DIY coconut water or thinner coconut milk
If you’re really going for the coconut flavor, you have two options. You can make your own coconut water from shredded coconut, or you can buy coconut milk and thin it out. It depends on what you’re going for.
To DIY some coconut water, you need shredded, desiccated coconut, and boiling water. Add as much coconut as you can to the water, or go for a 1:3 ratio for a good, strong flavor. Let the coconut simmer for a minute, then turn off the heat. Let it sit there for another 10 minutes or so.
Pour everything into a blender, and do your best to pulverize the coconut. You may not be able to get everything, and that’s fie. Strain everything through a mesh or muslin cloth to trap the coconut sludge. And there you go, coconut water that’s almost milk. This method lets you choose how much coconut and how much water you use, and you can even skip the blender part and only strain the water.
Or, you can buy pre-made coconut milk and thin that out with cold water. Give that a stir or two, and use it in place of coconut water. It will be much thicker than coconut water, but it will have a definite coconut flavor.
Again, this all depends a lot on what you’re planning to do with the coconut water in the first place.