Right now, coconuts are available in the grocery stores around
here, but they are rather small, and I wish to have the broader and
somewhat flatter nuts for my purposes. However, I have enough nut
shells at the moment to satisfy me.
Coconuts shells change as they grow. In very young coconuts these
are soft, thin and of course small. The coconuts you find in the
stores are half mature and their shells are semi-hard but not quite
the same as mature nuts where the shell is a lot thicker, harder,
have a rich colour and take on a fine polish. Your flatter pieces of
shell come from the larger mature nuts.
Mature coconuts are left to ripen on the tree where they accumulate
coconut oil in the pulp. The raw pulp is then extracted as coconut
milk for fortifying curries and other tropical dishes. The milk does
not keep well and gets rancid rapidly. Frozen coconut milk is
available in the stores so they don’t usually carry the really mature
whole coconuts any more.
For factory processing and extraction the nuts are split and dried in
the sun to form a storable product called copra. The rock hard
partially shrunken in-shell dried pulp can then be easily separated
from the shell and crushed for its oil. The pulp residue made into
animal feed. The shells are heated in a air tight container to make
the active charcoal. Active charcoal is used to remove odours from
the air and from water plus hundreds of other uses including removing
the colour from raw sugar.
Coconut is one of those wonder trees. The blooms are tapped and
fermented in-situ to make a potent alcoholic brew called toddy. The
husk fibres is made into salt water resistant rope. Its palm leaves
used for roof tatching, woven into mats and screens, for making
brooms and dozens of other items I cannot recall at this moment. And
of course articles of art and craft.