PRODUCT: Coconut Grater From Microplane | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures PRODUCT: Coconut Grater From Microplane | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures
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PRODUCT: Coconut Grater From Microplane

Your coconut cake deserves fresh-grated
coconut. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.
Here’s the recipe.


Recently, the folks at Microplane wrote to tell us that their Microplane Elite Extra Coarse Grater was terrific for grating coconut. The grater has large grating holes that give fresh coconut a texture similar to commercial shredded coconut—but if you’re a coconut lover, you’ll really prefer the superior taste and natural crunch of freshly-grated coconut.

We love moist, grated coconut in and on ambrosia salad, cakes, cupcakes, lemon-coconut bars, macaroons and ice cream. On the savory side, there’s coconut batter shrimp, coconut rice, Thai chicken and soups, numerous Indian dishes and other Pacific Rim cuisine.
The grater also works on cheeses and root vegetables. The suggested retail is $16.95, and you can buy it online. If you have a friend who makes a great coconut dish, you can make a gift of the grater and a fresh coconut.



Actually, it’s a drupe—a category of fruits that includes the coffee cherry (bean), mango, olive, most palms (date and coconut palms, e.g.), strawberry and all members of the genus Prunus, including the almond, apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach and plum.

Here’s what we dug up at the Library of Congress:

Is a coconut a fruit, nut or seed? Botanically speaking, a coconut is a fibrous one-seeded drupe, a classification of fruit.

A drupe is a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed (like a peach or olive) and comes from the word drupa meaning overripe olive. A coconut, and all drupes, have three layers: the exocarp (outer layer), the mesocarp (fleshy middle layer), and the endocarp (hard, woody layer that surrounds the seed). When you buy a coconut at the supermarket the exocarp and the mesocarp have been removed and what you see is the endocarp.


So why is it called a nut?

Food names were bestowed long ago, often by explorers and others who had no botanical training.

Eggplants have nothing to do with eggs, but the early small, white oval varieties looked like eggs to the folks who named them. Grapefruit growing on trees looked like jumbo clusters of grapes. To Columbus’s crew, the heat in chiles reminded them of the black peppercorns back home, so they called chiles “peppers.” They were ignorant of the fact that there is no relation between chiles and peppers.

The oldest reference to the coconut comes from a 5th century Egyptian traveler, Cosmas, who wrote about the “Indian nut” or “nut of India” (the coconut more than likely originated in the Indian Archipelago or Polynesia). “Coconut” was derived from old Portuguese and Spanish, where coco meant head or skull.

Why skull?


It’s not a nut, but a fruit. Photo courtesy Microplane.

The three small holes on the coconut shell resembled human facial features. According to one source, the sailors of Vasco da Gama, who came across the fruit in India and first brought it to Europe, were reminded of a ghost or witch in Portuguese folklore called coco. The first known recorded usage of the term is 1555.

Botanically, the coconut palm is not a tree since there is no bark, no branches, no secondary growth. The coconut palm is a woody perennial (flowering plant) called a monocotyledon; what we see as the trunk is a very thick, woody stem.

Other monocotyledons include the true grains (maize, rice, wheat, etc.), the pasture grasses, sugar cane, bamboo, banana, ginger and the amaryllis family—which includes onions and garlic plus flowering plants such as the amaryllis, daffodil, lily, iris, orchids, and tulip.

Isn’t botany enlightening?

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