If you work in catering or you are keen on spending time in the kitchen, you have probably noticed the packs of desiccated coconut on the store shelves. But you’ve probably also wondered what desiccated coconut is used for, and what you do with it. What is desiccated coconut? What does it taste like? And how do you get the best from this ingredient?
Here are a few hints and tips for cooking with desiccated coconut so you can create some standout dishes using this versatile ingredient.
Desiccated Coconut: Definition
Desiccated means to remove all moisture; to dry out. Many people think it means to shred, but the important consideration is the removal of water. The coconut is shredded – this happens before the drying process. You remove the coconut flesh and grate it finely, then dry the flesh in an oven or hot air. You can also find desiccated coconut in flakes or granules. Most desiccated coconut is pure flesh from the nut without anything added. However, some brands include preservatives or sweeteners so it is worth checking the label if you are concerned about these additives.
Desiccated coconut is found mostly in Indian and Asian cuisine. Manufacturers in the UK use it for topping desserts or in cereals. But it is also increasingly used in more inventive ways.
Desiccated Coconut: Health Benefits
Since coconut is technically a fruit and not a nut, there is a lot of goodness in the flesh. Desiccated coconut, as part of a balanced diet, provides some essential vitamins and minerals. Coconut does contain high levels of fat but so long as you don’t overdo it, you get the benefits of its nutritional qualities without having to worry about the fat content. Desiccated coconut is a potent source of manganese and it also contains copper. Food does not commonly contain these minerals, which makes coconut useful for optimum well-being.
Desiccated coconut also encompasses dietary fibre. Fibre is essential for digestion and a healthy gut. It is also useful for helping you lose weight. With plenty of healthful fibre, you feel fuller and you don’t get the frequent urge to snack that can blight a weight loss regime.
Desiccated coconut has lots of iron. You may not immediately think of it as an iron-rich food, but it is a potent source of this mineral, which is useful for maintaining high levels of oxygen in the blood. Plus, the fruit is a source of fatty acids that protect against bone loss and osteoporosis.
Desiccated Coconut: What to Consider
Of course, you need to watch where you sprinkle your desiccated coconut – it’s not going to help your diet if you’re eating it in high-fat cookies or cakes. It is important not to over-consume this fruit since it is a source of saturated fat. Desiccated coconut suppliers sell this product without any additives or added sugar, which is the best way to eat this raw ingredient. Search for a pure coconut product that does not have added preservatives or sweeteners.