Nata De Coco is a jelly-like dish produced by fermenting coconut water or coconut milk. The product originated in the Philippines where it is served as a dessert or candy after adding a sweetener to it. It is also served as an accompaniment to pickles, soft drinks, ice-creams and fruit smoothies.
The coconut water turns into a gel via the process of fermentation which is carried out by the acidic bacteria, Acetobacter xylinus. It is considered to be an extremely nutritious product and a healthier alternative to tapioca.
Japan was one of the countries where the dessert was consumed in huge quantities during the early 90s. Philippines became the main exporter of the chewy jelly-like mass to Japan and experienced an unprecedented economic growth as a result. The boom, however, faded away after 1993 and millions of Filipinos lost their livelihoods.
Origin of Nata De Coco
The first attempt to make the jelly like substance was in 1973 in Philippines. The resultant product was marketed two years later after being named after the cream of coconut in Spanish. Industries engaged in producing the gel popped up all over the island nation after 1981.
Fermented Nata De Coco: Ingredients and Preparation Overview
Grated coconut in either the fresh or matured form can be utilized to make the gel. A liter of coconut water is mixed together with 5 grams of glacial acetic acid and100 grams of the sweetener along with a small amount of nata starter. Tap water is usually used in the process as well.
The grated coconut mixed with water is strained by means of a cheese cloth and the other ingredients are added to be kept aside after transferring it into jars specifically meant for fermenting. The nata starter is usually added after 3 to 5 days and the fermentation carried out for a period of 15 days approximately. The gel like product is then harvested and washed to remove the sour taste and flavor.
The jelly can be added to other desserts or flavored with additives and cut into squares for consumption as candies.
Fermented Nata De Coco Recipes
- Syrup- The jelly-like translucent squares are added to boiling water and served as syrup made with white refined sugar.
- Nata Fruit Drink- It is a soft drink served in tall glasses which consists of the nata squares dissolved in sweet peach and pineapple juices garnished with fresh diced strawberry.
- Sago-Nata Pudding- A popular Asian pudding that contains sago pearls, pandanus leaves and nata crystals prepared into a gelatinous pudding. It is usually served chilled.
Nata De Coco: Health Benefits
- The product is a rich source of dietary fiber and aids in the process of digestion.
- Research studies have revealed that the jelly may be effective in treating colon cancers.
- It is believed to keep the heart healthy and can reduce the risk of coronary thrombosis.
- It is also associated with the reduction of sugar in urine.
A superior quality Nata de coco stretches like a piece of elastic and is very difficult to break off.