Sri Lankan coconuts from Greenfield Farm Organic Life's new summer stall
“It was a glorious sunny day in June when we first opened, the perfect day for introducing coconut water from Sri Lanka to Borough Market customers,” says Annalie from Greenfield Farm Organic Life’s latest, seasonal addition to the Market, a king coconut stall.
“People were really interested from the beginning. They were gathering around and asking what it was and wanting to sample the water. They were asking if they could hold them and were surprised about how heavy they were. It was really fun to share all this information with them and to see how happy they were when they tried the water. The interaction with the customers was just a joy.”
“In Singhalese, the coconut is called ‘thembili’, which roughly translates as ‘king coconut’. It is a different variety from the green one people are more used to seeing,” Annalie explains. “The main difference is that these ones have very little flesh, so it is the water that is the hero in this coconut. In terms of flavour, they are slightly less sweet than the green ones as they have less fructose. They are packed with minerals and vitamins so in Sri Lanka, they are seen as a very healthy natural drink.”
The jewel of Sri Lanka
This coconut is the jewel of Sri Lanka, considered a delicacy due to the quality and health benefits of the water—proving that not all delicacies have to be rare, or somewhat a culinary challenge to the uninitiated. The team behind Greenfield Farm Organic Life discovered the king coconut through the farms they work with in Sri Lanka, which supply the stall’s organic tea.
While the coconuts are ‘wild’, the fruit is collected by a designated group of farmers who harvest the coconuts “at three months old when the water is at its best”, and tend the environment around the trees to make sure that they conform to organic standards—no chemicals are used to control weeds or pests.
“We really wanted to work with them as it is yet another way to help Sri Lankan farming communities. The product represents a real opportunity and if it works well, we will happily be doing this for many years to come,” she says with real enthusiasm.
Plentiful and sustainable
“One of the great things about this product is that the coconuts are not seasonal. They can be harvested every three weeks throughout the year and taking them regularly encourages more coconuts to be produced,” Annalie explains.
“If we can develop a good market for the water, locals will have a plentiful and sustainable product which they can build a business and life around. This why it has been so great to see the positive reaction the water has had. We are already seeing people coming back on a regular basis.”
Borough shoppers can also buy coconuts to take home. As the coconuts are harvested young, the shells do not have time to harden, so you don’t need a machete to open them. “On the stall we simply cut the tops off with a sharp kitchen knife at a slight angle, poke a hole in the husk and stick a straw in.”
“If you do take one home, keep it in the fridge. You really want to have them within a day or two, at most. Leave it any longer than that and the water changes in character and the shell begins to harden. But if you buy them on Thursday or Friday, they will make for a wonderful weekend treat.”