Coconut candy - the edible chewing gum

By Ngoisao   October 18, 2016 | 08:00 pm GMT+7

Palm sugar and coconut combine in one of Vietnam's most famous bonbons.

Known nation-wide as the coconut capital, the southern province of Ben Tre amazes visitors with a menu full of coconut dishes such as co hu dua (the soft edible part at the top of the coconut tree), duong dua (larvae coconut worm) and most famous one, coconut candies made out of coconut flesh.

Known nationwide as the coconut capital, the southern province of Ben Tre amazes visitors with a menu full of coconut dishes, such as co hu dua (the soft edible part at the top of the coconut tree), duong dua (coconut larvae) and the most famous one, coconut candy made out of coconut flesh.

[Coconut candies have its root in a district of Ben Tre and can be traced back to decades ago. In the first place, the candies were made simply by squeezed coconut milk cooked with sugar until reduced to a maltose-like substance. The coconuts chosen to make candy is the old ones with harder and thicker flesh. The young ones give better coconut water and wax-like flesh.]

Coconut candy has its root firmly set in a district of Ben Tre, and can be traced back decades. Originally, the candy was made simply with coconut milk cooked with sugar. The coconuts chosen to make candy are the old ones with harder and thicker flesh. The young ones give better coconut water and wax-like flesh.

As time goes, the coconut candies evolve. The flesh used to be hand-grated and hand-squeezed in the pre-machine time. Now grating and pressing machines have replaced all human labor. The coconut milk is used to make candies, the leftover is put back into pressing machine to be squeeze once more for coconut oil, a product prefered in cosmetic industry.

As time has past, coconut candy has evolved. The flesh used to be hand-grated and hand-squeezed before we had machines. Now minimal human labor is required. The coconut milk is used to make the candy, and the leftover is put back into the pressing machine to be squeezed once more for coconut oil, a product used in the cosmetics industry.

Freshly squeezed coconut milk is then mixed with sugar-cane (or palm) sugar and boiled. Also in the time of no-machine, a laborer was required to stand by the burning stove for hours to stir the mixture for hours. Now, a machine also called over for the task.

Freshly squeezed coconut milk is then mixed with sugar-cane (or palm) sugar and boiled. Before we had machines, laborers needed to stand by a burning stove to stir the mixture for hours.

The coconut shells are not wasted but dried and turned to fuel for the boiling process. A closed circle with all parts of the coconut put to good use.

The coconut shells are not wasted but dried and used to fuel the boiling process. A closed circle with all parts of the coconut put to good use.

After being boiled, coconut and sugar reduce to lumps of raw coconut candies.

After being boiled, the coconuts and sugar are reduced to lumps of raw candy.

The coconut candies are mixed with roasted peanut on site to serve visitors.

The coconut candy is mixed with roasted peanut on site to serve visitors.

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The end-product: fresh coconut candy.

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For long-term use, fresh coconut candy is poured into molds and left to dry.

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The candy is then cut into bite-size pieces.

The perfect coconut candy must be both dry and chewy but doesnt stick to eaters teeth, though this annoyance is sometimes preferred as a time-killing stuff.

The perfect coconut candy must be both dry and chewy, but doesn’t stick to the teeth, though this annoyance is sometimes a good way to kill time.

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Coconut candy used to be wrapped in paper, but this method caused the candy to melt and spoil. The candy makers in Ben Tre came up with a thin transparent banh trang (rice papers) to wrap the sweet treats instead. The banh trang is totally edible, however, many still think it’s a normal wrapper and throw it away.

These days coconut candies come in many variations with durian, pineapple leaves, coffee added to offer customers more choices to make a break from traditional flavor.

These days coconut candy comes in many flavors with durian, pineapple leaves and coffee added to offer customers more choice. At VND30,000 ($1.3) for a 300 gram pack of candy, it is one of the most popular souvenirs in Ben Tre and has earned a reputation outside the province.

Photos by Mr.True

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