I was used to drinking coconut milk and finding that it is nice, a bit sweet, and a bit bland.

One day i had a normal supermarket coconut, that tasted like Malibu essence inside. Is that what a very fresh coconut tastes like?

I am a chemist, and I am want to know if coconut aromatics vary a lot in between fresh and old coconuts, and if so, why?

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it hurts the "questions should not be a rant in disguise" rule, see cooking.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 27, 2016 at 11:53
  • Actually, i am a chemist, and i am interested in Esters, freshness, savors, aromatics, consumer foods, industrial foods, food transport, maritime transport, seed biology, seed longevity, and my question has a scientific perspective, as asked to people that know about coconuts more than chemists do. I have lived in India and Indonesia where there are a lot of coconuts and didn't recall drinking a cocounut with aromatic coconut aroma over there, so i am puzzled why i found one in the UK. Jun 27, 2016 at 11:57
  • 1
    where do you reckon the question belongs to on stack then . Biology? How can a quesiton about freshness and taste conservation of an edible not belong to the cooking forum? Jun 27, 2016 at 12:20
  • Hmm, I'd have to think about a possible rewording. The problem is that taste is not a straight function of chemistry, and we don't have specialists in neurogastronomy here - so even if we were to reword it to make it more about the reasons in your different perceptions, we couldn't even establish whether this taste is something somebody else would have experienced, much less what the causes for it were.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 27, 2016 at 12:22
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    By the way, i would suggest, that if you think that question could be unacceptable because it is perhaps a rant in disguise, perhaps you are having a bad day and that you are seeing a possible rant in a totally innocent figure of speech. The question was worded about as simply and innocently as it could be. flavors volatilize, i wasn't inviting blame for the an explanation of why and how fast coconuts lose coconut ethylene, with due respect that was a negative interpretation of simple wording. Jun 27, 2016 at 15:05

2 Answers 2


I don't have more than a basic knowledge of chemistry and the information I have I translated from a German book on spices and seasoning. All errors are therefore mine. The book is basically a description of a huge amount of spices, herbs and other seasonings, as well as a description of the chemistry involved which leads to the taste.

The difference in taste between coconut milk (if canned, as I assume) and fresh coconut water is easily explained. Canned coconut milk is basically a purée of coconut flesh mixed with water, which is why it has a different taste. Sadly, the book did not contain information on whether or how the flavour compounds (is that the correct word?) differ from coconut flesh to coconut water.

The book gives the following flavour compounds as responsible for the taste:

δ-Octalactone described as tasting creamy and of caramel

γ-Octalactone sweet and fatty

2-Nonanone fruity, sweet and earthy

Limonene lemon and turpentine

Responsible for the smell are the following (I have no idea what the letters and number in the parenthesis are supposed to mean, I'll simply include them):

10% Caprylic acid (C 8:0)

10% Decanoic acid (C 10:0)

50% Lauric acid (C 12:0)

15% Myristic acid (C 14:0)

10% Palmitic acid (C 16:0)

5% Oleic acid (C 18:1)

I hope this helps somehow.

  • Ah, older coconuts are also described as tasting slightly soapy. Jun 30, 2016 at 7:17
  • The numbers refer to the length of the triglyceride chain backbone, in carbon atoms (deca = 10) Jul 1, 2016 at 2:28
  • Ah, I thought it was something along those lines, but I wasn't sure. Jul 1, 2016 at 2:29

I have a fond attachment to coconut and can't do without it on a daily basis. I always use fresh coconut. Fresh coconut always is sweet and tasty in that sense. Also freshly squeezed home made coconut is tastier than store bought ones. The reason may be coconut has so much milk stored in the flesh which is tastiest when consumed fresh . Shelf life of coconut is not that longer if broken once. As days goes by it begins to get ripe losing the liquid content and dried up. You can very well taste the difference. Also if unused for a long time it gets spoiled, and the taste can be easily be found inedible. Ripe coconuts if not rotten can be sun dried and used in dishes it calls for, or can be used to obtain coconut oil. I hope it will all make sense only if you start using fresh coconut on a regular basis. Thanks.

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