June 22, 2010

Coconuts and Cantaloupe

The food co-op has done it again--made me stretch my knowledge and find new ways to use fruits and vegetables.

While we had eaten the coconut I received from the co-op about a month ago I had my mother's in the refrigerator waiting for me to take care of it. Then I received two more coconuts a few weeks--that is a lot of coconut. PE and I don't love coconut but we have been able to enjoy this fresh coconut. The kids have also enjoyed it.

I followed my mom's directions that she found online (I didn't want to go find it online so I just went for it) to get the meat separated from the shell. First, I set the oven to 400 to preheat. Then I used a large nail to make holes in two of the three indentations/eyes on the top and then drained the coconuts of the liquid. Once drained, I placed both coconuts on a baking sheet and put them in the oven. I "baked" them for 20 minutes. When I removed them each one had a crack in it and I could see the meat was separating from the shell. I then took them outside because that meat separating business can be MESSY. I grabbed PE's hammer and gave each coconut a couple hard hits. Using a spoon I was able to separate the meat from the shell with minimal effort (I probably could have "baked" them a little longer and not had to exert any effort). I used a vegetable peeler to get the brown skin or whatever it is off the meat from where it was attached to the shell. Once all the meat was separated and peeled I washed it off. I used the slicer/shredder attachment for my Bosch Universal Mixer with the very fine grater blade and shredded the coconut from my mom and the two coconuts I had just prepped. I then spread the coconut on three baking sheets and dried it in my oven set to the Warm. I didn't time it or anything, I just stirred it periodically and when it felt dry I removed it from the oven and let it cool (it did take over one hour). One pan ended up as slightly toasted coconut. I dumped all three trays into a gallon-size zip top bag and put it in the freezer. This will be added to granola when we make it. I don't think our love of coconut has grown enough to venture into any other food realms with it.

While the coconut was drying I decided I should take care of the cantaloupe we received a week (or two?) ago. As soon as I sliced into it I knew it was too ripe to eat as is. It was a little softer than is enjoyable to eat and the flesh was starting to look grainy. So, I went to work looking for recipes for over-ripe (not fermented) cantaloupe. I settled on popsicles and granita. I have not made granita before but from this post on The Pioneer Woman Cooks site, I knew it wouldn't be difficult. (I will be making The PW's granita someday.) Both recipes were a cinch to whip up. I think both tasted delicious too. I really liked the orange juice with the cantaloupe in the popsicles. PE did not like either one but that can be expected since cantaloupe is not a favorite of his. Bug enjoyed both, Moo only had a popsicle and thought they were "okay," and Bob "didn't really like it but finished it anyway." (He is a funny kid.)

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Cantaloupe Popsicles
from About.com
Print Recipe

6 oz. can frozen orange juice concentrate (or other fruit juice concentrate)
3 cups balled or cubed cantaloupe (or other melon)
3/4 cup water
popsicle molds OR
10 paper cups AND
10 wooden popsicle sticks

In blender or food processor, combine fruit juice concentrate and cantaloupe and process until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until firm OR fill each drink cup with about 1/3 cup of this mixture, then freeze until partially frozen, about 1 hour. Insert wooden sticks and freeze until firm. To serve, peel away the paper cup. 10 pops

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Cantaloupe Granita
adapted from epicurious
Print Recipe

3 cups cantaloupe balls or coarsely chopped (from 1/2 melon, seeded)
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 cup ice cubes

Purée all ingredients in a blender until smooth, then pour into a 13 by 9 inch pan and freeze until mixture becomes a firm slush, at least 40 minutes. Scrape with a fork and serve in chilled glasses.

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