Montana Public Radio

Cultivating The Coconut Craze

Mar 3, 2019

There's a coconut boom going on: the versatile flesh of the fruit can be manufactured into substitutes for milk, cream and other cooking oils.

The Food Guys, Jon Jackson and Greg Patent, point out that there are reasons to be concerned about the growing demand. Coconut farmers in Asia are among the poorest people in the world, and often, their trees are planted as a monoculture, a risk to farmer and the environment alike.

Over the last ten years, vegans and health-conscious cooks in the U.S. have been falling in love with the fruit. Coconut milk comes from the white flesh of the mature coconut, and it's a good substitute for cow's milk, even in baking. Coconut cream is made from a concentrated portion of the milk. "Don't buy low-fat versions; you're paying for water," says Greg Patent.

As lovers of South Asian food know, coconut milk works especially well in curries, adding richness to the curry spices. Greg also uses it in soups and marinades.

(Broadcast: "The Food Guys," 1/1/17 & 1/5/17 and 3/3/19. Listen weekly on the radio at 11:50 a.m. Sundays and again at 4:54 p.m. Thursdays, or via podcast.)