Coconut water is a nutrient-rich fluid which is found in young coconuts. It is also sometimes known as coconut juice, and it is a popular food in many regions of the tropics, where coconuts are grown. Outside of the tropics, some markets carry pasteurized canned or bottled coconut water, and sometimes it is also possible to buy whole young coconuts which can be sliced open for their water. Health food stores sometimes prepare coconut water fresh for their customers by request.
Young coconuts are very distinctive, and easy to identify. They have pale green skin which is mottled with dark spots, and their husks are much thinner and less fibrous than those of mature coconuts. When cut open, a young coconut has gelatinous flesh and a clear fluid inside. Over time, the flesh slowly grows solid and the fluid is absorbed, and if the coconut were allowed to germinate, the seedling would feed on the nutrients in the coconut flesh until it was established.
The nutrients include potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. The liquid has a clear, simple flavor which some people find very refreshing, and it can be adulterated with various spices and seasonings, like ginger, cinnamon, and sugar. It can be drunk chilled or at room temperature, and some people tout the juice as an energy-rich beverage which can be consumed to restore the balance of electrolytes in hot weather or during heavy exercise.
When a fresh young coconut is available, there are two ways to drink the coconut water. In one technique, a hole is bored into the top of the coconut, and a straw is inserted, so the juice can be drunk straight from the coconut. Once the water has been consumed, the coconut can be split open to access the meat. It is also possible to remove the top of the coconut, creating a lid and reaching the interior, or to crack the coconut open over a bowl to collect the water and spoon out the coconut meat.
In addition to being consumed, coconut water has also been used an intravenous fluid in some situations, typically during military engagements, during which medical supplies are sometimes not immediately available. When other fluids are not available for intravenous transfusion, coconut water can be used to raise the volume of the blood, combating low blood pressure while providing some useful electrolytes.