As it turns out, coconut trees give us a whole lot more than coconuts. Coconuts are actually dry, fibrous drupes, not fruits. Once the husks are peeled back, the hard shell is revealed, and is in fact a single giant seed. Before turning into the large bowling ball shaped seeds we know so well, they are flowers. When cut, these blossoms release a thick, sweet sap that is collected in a fashion vaguely reminiscent of tapping a maple tree. However, unlike a maple tree tap, the cut flower can stay open and oozing for almost 20 years! The fresh sap has a silky, pearlescent appearance, and once collected it is gently heated, reducing the nectar by one quarter, producing a heady sweet smell and beautiful caramel-colored thick liquid. The sap must be heated within 24 hours of collection, otherwise the nectar is left to ferment, producing “sour toddy”, a traditional alcoholic beverage among Pacific Islanders. Afterwards, the viscous syrup is poured over trays in a thin layer and left to crystalize. The result is pure, delicious coconut flower nectar.
These sugar crystals are special. They contain a low percentage of fructose (approx. 1-2%), which is the common simple sugar found in many fruits; have a low glycemic index (35), making it safe for many diabetics; are packed full of minerals and vitamins; and just taste fantabulous!