In a rare moment of pure relaxation, I reclined on a lounge chair under the shade of my hat and watched the waves gently dance along the shore. Interrupted momentarily by a friendly voice asking if I would like some fresh coconut milk.
Having seen others drink from the coconut palm or the tree of life as they called it in Samoa, I was intrigued.
To my surprise, rather than bringing a coconut, like I had seen others drink from, he beckoned a mate and they headed to one of the trees. He offered me fresh coconut milk, but this seemed way beyond the call of duty.
Coconut palm trees are a Tree of Life on the Island nation of Samoa. Here, like in so many tropical paradises, they grow everywhere.
Fresh coconut milk directly from the seed of the coconut (the brown hairy piece that is technically the seed of the fruit) was a delicacy to me, although it is common on the island.
Why drink fresh coconut milk
There are plenty of digestive and other health benefits of drinking fresh coconut milk including lowered blood pressure, aiding in weight loss, preventing anemia, and it has anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, when were are at home, we often use it in some of our favourite recipes. But today was about fun.
How to get fresh coconut milk
I ran back to our bungalow to get my camera, and by the time I returned, he was already near the top of the tree. He climbed surprisingly quickly.
Here’s are the steps:
Step 1: Climb the coconut palm tree
In the past, I watched this process and the trick seems to be the flat cloth tied between the ankles. Then, barefoot with the sole facing the tree and the cloth laying flat against the tree, the climber shimmies his way straight up the tree. No safety ropes, just man and tree.
However, my climber was even more clever and he had leather straps on his legs and spiked shoes that could dig into the flesh of the tree as he quickly made his way to the top. He made the bit of climb I saw look easy, but I am sure it is not.
Step 2: Toss a coconut out of the tree
Using the knife he carried up the tree, one coconut was tossed down for each member of our family. He’s still up there, but not so easy to see now.
Step 3: While at the top . . .
Not an official step of getting fresh coconut milk, but while up the tree, why now take advantage of the opportunity to toss down a few palm fronds. After all, these can be used for so many things.
Step 4: Open the coconut
Watching the team of two open the coconut made me wonder which is the more difficult task: climbing the tree or opening the coconut?
But now I did understand why he needed to include his mates in the process. Each coconut was opened by two men. One presses it onto a large wooden spike held up by the other.
Step 5: Peel back the hard outer shell
Next, peel back the hard outer shell and coir (fibrous husk) of the coconut and use your machete to get the top off in one quick blow. The man who was up the tree is in the background. You can still see the straps on his legs.
Step 6: Enjoy the fresh coconut milk
Surprisingly more tasty than I expected the fresh coconut milk to be, and the bonus was we also got the coconut flesh.
Pro tip: when ordering fresh coconut milk in the seed you would ask for “Niu” in Samoa.
Why call it the ‘Tree of Life’?
Very simply, no part of the tree is wasted. The coconut palm tree is special to the Samoan people. Uses for the entire tree:
- The trunk for building or fence posts,
- The leaves for thatched roofs, mats, baskets and other accessories,
- The fruit, or coconut, for food and drink.
And it’s not just Samoa. Coconut palms are important to many tropical cultures. In fact, we learned about it again on the Cook Islands.
Where did we get our fresh coconut milk in Samoa?
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We stayed at a Saletoga Sands Resort and Spa. With ocean and pool views, a spa, activities, and fabulous service, it’s a great place to relax.
It was here that we experienced fresh coconut milk directly from the tree. We enjoyed it so much we wrote our Saletoga Sands review in a separate article.
While there was enough to keep us busy at the resort, we also found many things to do in Samoa.
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this is so cool…My scheduled post for today is going to be also about scraping coconut and it will be live on my other blog Food Corner.We cook with coconut most of the time
I’ve had coconut water before and did not like it at all. I would be game for trying coconut milk though. I do love coconut for baking!
Hi Rhonda – great story .. I thought the coconut had hit the frond and both came a-tumbling down .. and yes I have had fresh coconut juice through one of the eyes and then the fresh flesh .. well not straight from the tree …
Fun to see and one of those essential trees for an easier life .. cheers Hilary
Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk)
Buko! In my country its a summer staple too =) #WW
went back and enjoyed more gorgeous pics, from the museum (love the shoes!! we need to bring those back!) to the watering hole (so inviting!) and here with pure coconuts! (yum!) you are soooo lucky to be able to visit these exotic places and experience them with your wonderful family! i’m so jealous!
NYC Single Mom
what a cool experience. I have actually never had fresh coconut milk.
I’ve tried it before, but never THIS fresh. Do you use coconut oil? There’s a lot of buzz about how great that is for you. Great pics. Neat to see how easily they enjoy fresh coconut milk!
That’s so neat-o! I love coconuts!
Feed Me Dearly
Aw, this looks awesome – lucky you! Super cool shots! 🙂
Oh my, it does remind me of old times… You so made me wish I was back home. Thanks for bringing back so many good memories.
Hope you have a wonderful rest of the week!
I adooooooore fresh coconut; this made me salivate! YAM xx
Cascia @ The Healthy Moms Mag
No I haven’t tried that. But I bet you had a lot of fun. I am not a very big fan of coconut. Have a terrific day!
Great shots! I drank fresh coconut milk in India, but it’s very watery. I also had sugar cane juiced while there.
No, I’ve not had coconut milk at all. Can I just have plain old cows milk? Thanks.
What an interesting process.
Have a fabulous day. 🙂
Dominique [email protected]'s Desk
We use a lot of coconut milk in the local dishes here. I love drinking the fresh coconut milk too 🙂
Great pictures, makes me want to run right out and buy a coconut! Shari
We have been to Samoa, and loved having the fresh coconut milk! I loved you post.
I love the photo of you all holding a coconut (oooohh! matron) I have not had the milk but I love fresh coconut.
Leaves blog singing ♫ I’ve got a luverly bunch of coconuts ♪ ♪
Robin (Masshole Mommy)
Nope, never had it fresh, but I would love to try it!
Alex J. Cavanaugh
I can’t say that I have. Wouldn’t want to be the guy that collects the coconuts though. I’d probably fall out of the tree.