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Firstly, a quick explanation of dried mature vs. young fresh coconut meat is warranted. Mature coconut meat is from coconuts that have been left on the tree longer.

It is thicker and more oily. It’s typically dried to make products such as coconut chips and coconut flakes. And if further processed, can be made into coconut milk, cream and oil.
Conversely, young coconut meat is scooped from the inside of the shell. Thus, resulting in a soft, malleable texture and sweet taste. Overall, an entirely different texture, flavor and nutritional profile.

For fresh coconut meat, head straight to the frozen section. To preserve its texture and taste, coconut meat must be frozen right after scooping.
As a fresh product with plenty of good bacteria including active enzymes, raw coconut meat has an extremely short shelf life of 5 days maximum! Anything with a longer shelf life has been heated, dehydrated or otherwise processed. Not necessarily a bad thing, just a different product!

If it’s in a can, you can count on added preservatives and added sugar such as syrup. Coconut meat in particular is porous and imbibes its host liquid very easily.
With that being said, you can imagine that soaking in syrup is not ideal for taste or nutrients. Shop raw coconut meat in a bag that clearly states no sugar added and no preservatives.

Like all agricultural products, the origin is key for the flavor and other characteristics. For instance, coconuts grown on the beaches of Brazil and the Philippines generally have a saltier taste.
In contrast, Thailand is known for its naturally sweet coconuts, grown in mineral-rich soil, with abundant water and year-round heat and sunshine.