Whenever I need mature coconuts for making the next meal or food preserve, I am on the scout for fresh nuts. Those with white and fragrant smelling meat free of any rancid odor. If you do the same way as I do, you are one step closer to your your ultimate goal.
The best quality check is taking off the husk and breaking the shell open right on the spot. The coconut is good if it possess the criteria I described above. Bad otherwise. It may exhibit discoloration such as dirty white, brown, green and black.
I have several coconut trees. They are too tall for me to climb. Using a bamboo pole is hard either. I am letting them naturally fall and gather them in one place for later.
For my own use, I have few criteria for choosing the right candidate.
A clean and dry coconut
The husk surface should be clean and relatively dry. Wet husk, which encourages embryonic growth, is common only in rainy season and rarely occurs in summer months. You should not worry about wet husk during dry spell. On the other hand, tattered and dirty appearance are signs of old fruit and therefore degraded quality.
No shoot and no roots
There should be no signs of embryonic growth such as roots and shoot. Why? As soon as the embryo starts to grow, it consumes the nutrients from the water and meat. The more it grows, the more nutrients it gets, affecting the meat and water quality in a bad way. Whenever I see shoots coming out, I break the nut open and give it to ducks and chickens.
There should be water inside
When shaken, bouncing water should be evident. If not, it could be completely dried out due to hot weather. Or, the coconut pearl growth reached the meat layer. Either way, the coconut is deemed unfit.
Coconut losses water toward maturity. Evaporation is one of the reasons which may worsen with hot season. When it happens, the water can dry out completely. The meat can be brownish with mild rancid odor. It may have mold growth of various colors. It may not show any signs of deterioration but I am not taking chances.
There are instances when the shoot is barely visible but the pearl inside had already reached the meat layer. Or, the pearl growth stopped midway due to rot.
Choosing the right coconuts at the public market
You may get grated coconuts from the nearest public market, which is the only option for many. If the merchant permits, choose husked nuts with brown appearance. Pale color indicates lack of maturity which may not fit for your purpose. Reject nuts with doubtful meat appearance and smell. You have the right to be picky. You can always go to the next store if the current shows untoward manner.
The usual harvesting trick
The harvester will get only mature nuts. However, the term mature is broader than what you might have thought. Green to yellowish are also included. Do color differences matter in terms of taste quality? They do! You may experiment with the pale and brown colored coconuts and see which performs better.