In Thailand, Coconuts' Role Rolls Far Beyond the Platter
Like the lines from the song, ‘Where you are’ from Moana, that imply how the coconut, from the tree to fruit, is used in every fabric of their lives. Similarly, the coconut is deeply engraved in Thailand’s culture. The tree trunks help build houses and furniture, palm fronds for baskets, husks burnt for fuel, the fruit and milk for ritualistic purposes and for authentic dishes, shells for ladles and other tools and its oil used for beauty purposes among many others.
While many cultures share the commonality of incorporating coconuts in many ways, particularly in their cuisines. Thai cuisine is exquisitely known for its rich taste of coconut in many dishes. You can enjoy the curry texture of coconuts in Salmon in Red Curry, indulge your sweet tooth in for a sweet treat from Mango Sticky Rice or simply have a sip of soothing tender coconut water that hits the spot on warm summer days. Dissecting the coconut, you can find more ways than one how different usages of the coconut have cooked up a platter of different dishes.
Hard, Soft or Liquid. However You Blend it, it's Still Splendid!
The Thai coconut is primarily recognized for its use in cooking. The richness of coconut milk is something that anyone who has eaten a massaman curry or a tropical drink can attest to. When the fruit is fresh and soft, it is eaten as a snack; however, as the fruit ages, the meat inside thickens and is then shred for use in desserts. The sweet-toothed Thais combine coconut with sugar to make coconut-flavored jellies, pancakes, and pastries. When coconuts are at their most beneficial stage of maturity, the flesh is squeezed to extract oil or squeezed and combined with water to generate the coconut cream, which is crucial for balancing flavors and ensuring that Thai meals have a thick texture. Now you have the recipe, here’s to the wonders that can happen to your health when coconuts are in your diet.
You Are Eating Healthier Too!
Scientists are discovering more health benefits of Thai food as it gains popularity, particularly in meals made with coconut. Since there are no trans fatty acids and the saturated fats are absorbed more readily than in other oils, they are less prone to cause weight gain. Coconut oil is antibacterial, prevents liver damage, and enhances the body's response to inflammation. Additionally, coconut milk is a favorite beverage of athletes as it includes vitamins and sugar that are easily absorbed by the body and aid in detoxification.
Skip the Salon and Put Some Coconut Oil On
Cancel your salon appointment and crack the coconut shell if you want effective, natural and harmless beauty treatment. Many of the ancient beauty techniques used in the famed Thai beauty include coconuts and their milk. Like most cultures, coconut oil is also used for treating hair for a softer, silkier, glossy effect. The same goes for skin, as the coconut oil moisturises the surface that quickly aborbs it, the result is that of a softer skin with a healthy sheen. Even fingernails benefit from oil, which makes them strong and lustrous. According to some experts, well even you may have noticed it, coconut oil is a great makeup remover and can help you say goodbye to stretch marks. A coconut purchased for a few baht in any Thai market is a true beauty bargain nowadays, when beauty treatments cost the earth and your bank account.
The beauty treatment doesn’t just end with the living, but the dead are also treated with the substance of coconut and here’s why.
Worship Thy Coconut When Thou Art in Search of Purity
As you might anticipate from a fruit that is so plentiful and practical, coconuts in Thailand have a lot of cultural connotations. Coconut milk is used to bathe the faces of the deceased as their bodies are readied for funerals due its perceived purity. This is due to the fact that Thais believe that for the deceased to peacefully pass over to the other side, their minds must be cleared. Thanks to their purifying content, coconuts are also offered during Buddhist and Brahmin rituals. Additionally, few Thai homes are constructed without a coconut palm being planted in the easternmost part of the property to provide happiness to the family who lives there.
Now, back to the living, how much more is the use of coconut in Thailand’s culture? Well, you got the answer right there. There are still more ways it can be used and read below to find out.
A Swiss Knife to Your Lifestyle
Like the many blades flinging out of a swiss knife with various purposes, the coconuts every feature can be used as your creative mind desires. Let’s get to the bottom. Now, in Thailand, it's not surprising to run into a coconut or palm tree no matter the distance. The leaves are used to cover shelters, the shells to create utensils, and the trunks to create furniture. Used husks are burned to produce fuel and deter insects. In fact, this plant is referred to as the tree of life when the coconut roots are still used in some regions of the kingdom as toothbrushes.
A Great Souvenir to Take With You
When visiting Thailand, every visitor eats coconuts in some way, usually as part of a dinner, dessert, or cocktail. You can purchase the adaptable shells as mementos in the shape of sculpted figurines, bowls, and cutlery. One of Thailand's most well-known stringed instruments, the Saw-U, is also made from coconut shells, and it's said that the more rounded the coconut used, the greater the music would be.
Now, there is even a special kind of coconut which is exclusively known for its taste and health benefits that differs from regular coconuts and that is Nam Hom.
Another popular tropical fruit among Thai and foreign consumers is the fragrant coconut, or Ma-Phrao Nam-Hom in Thai. Glucose, a type of sugar found in coconut water and readily absorbed by human bodies, is present. The result is that drinking coconut juice almost immediately makes one feel refreshed. Additionally, the energy content of the 100-gram bottle of coconut water is only 79 kcal.
Although there are other coconut cultivars in Thailand, the Nam-Hom coconut is the most well-known and widely adored, as it produces delicious, aromatic fruits that may be consumed as either fresh fruit or coconut juice. It is also widely acknowledged that the Ratchaburi province, which also produces the most coconut fruits in Thailand, is the source of the best Nam-Hom coconut.
The coconut offers a number of health advantages. Instant energy restoration, the treatment of dryness, skin nourishment, bone building, hormone balancing for women starting menopause are a few of them. The coconut may also be able to ward off gallstones, manage weight, reduce rash, and avoid heart disease.
Unfortunately, the amount of Thai coconuts imported is expected to decrease by an average of 0.1 percent annually to 590 thousand metric tons by 2026 from 593 thousand metric tons in 2021, according to the Produce Report. Since 2017, Thai demand has increased 0.1 percent annually. The production of Thai coconuts is expected to decrease by 4.8 percent annually on average from 723,110 metric tons in 2021 to 541,890 metric tons in 2026.
But on the bright side, Thai coconuts are readily available in supermarkets, fruit shops, and online shopping platforms in China, where they have a large following. Fresh, ready-to-drink coconuts are now commonly accessible, in addition to coconut milk that has been packed in bottles and cartons.