Perhaps the time has come to make a coconut cream pie. Or you want to make a delicious smoothie bowl, top a salad, make crispy coconut shrimp, or use shredded coconut in any recipe. But when all you can find is unsweetened coconut, what can you do?
Knowing how to sweeten unsweetened coconut will help you in your kitchen whenever you need this trick. While buying it sweetened can be helpful, it could have more sugar than you need. By adding it yourself, you control the amount of sugar while still keeping your recipe sweet.
Additionally, you can minimize preservatives by buying unsweetened coconut flakes and sweetening them yourself. Whether you buy shredded or flaked (they’re the same, incidentally) if you wind up with unsweetened coconut when you need it sweetened, here’s what to do! Keep reading to learn how to sweeten unsweetened coconut.
Turn Unsweetened Coconut into Sweetened Coconut
There are a couple of things you can do if you’re wondering how to sweeten unsweetened coconut. The first way is to take a pound of unsweetened shredded coconut and add two tablespoons of powdered sugar to it. Then shake the bag, and it’s ready!
That’s super easy to do, though if you don’t have powdered sugar, you may have to sweeten things up with a few more steps. While it doesn’t require any special tools, you will need to allow a bit more time to get the unsweetened coconut sweetened up.
To start, you’ll need your unsweetened coconut. Working with a cup of it, you will need a ¼ cup of water plus four teaspoons of sugar. Adjust these measurements to the amount of coconut you need to have sweetened.
You’ll add all these ingredients to a saucepan, then bring it to a boil using medium-high heat. It should take roughly 15 minutes.
Once it boils, drop the heat down to low. You’ll want to continue cooking this mixture uncovered until you see that all of the liquid has evaporated, which will take about an hour. If any liquid remains after that length of time, strain the coconut in a colander or fine mesh strainer.
After all the liquid is removed, you can place the drained coconut onto a large baking sheet. You’ll want to spread it out into a single layer. It will need to dry overnight, and then after that, you can freeze or refrigerate that until it’s ready to use.
As you can see, adding powdered sugar to the bag and shaking it up is a lot faster.
What’s the Difference Between Sweetened & Unsweetened Coconut?
Are you wondering why you might need to know how to sweeten unsweetened coconut? These items are different in sugar content as well as moisture. With sweetened coconut, the product is soaked in a water-sugar mixture or in corn syrup which renders it with a moister texture. Unsweetened coconut is lighter and drier and used as-is, will change the texture of what you make. So, for desserts especially, you’ll want to change your unsweetened coconut to sweetened.
What Else Can I Use to Sweeten Unsweetened Coconut?
Not everyone can have lots of sugar. In fact, you might be actively avoiding it, yet you need sweetened coconut for a recipe. If you need to sweeten that unsweetened coconut, you can add a tablespoon of artificial sweetener dissolved in a tablespoon of water per every half-cup of coconut called for in the recipe.
You can also use agave nectar or pure maple syrup. These things will help you sweeten the coconut you need without using sugar. When using any of these, though, you will need to allow enough time for the coconut to dry out overnight. It’s a lengthy process, but it’s good to know if you’re having trouble finding sweetened coconut near you or if you want to avoid preservatives.
Accounting for Moisture
As mentioned, unsweetened coconut is very dry. It can complicate a recipe if you sub it in rather than using sweetened coconut. You can adjust the moisture in your recipe by either using water or oil.
When using water, take a half-cup of the coconut and combine it with a tablespoon of hot water. You’ll want it to stand for about 10 minutes before you add it to your recipe.
With oil, you’ll want to add 1 ½ teaspoons of it along with the same ratio of hot water per every half-cup of coconut. Vegetable oil will be best for this.
Don’t forget though that without a bit of sweetness, your recipe will have a different flavor. This is why you should add sugar or another sweetener to your unsweetened coconut.
If you want a quick and easy way to sweeten that unsweetened coconut and you don’t want to spend time boiling it away, there’s a solution. Should you not have powdered sugar, simply measure out granulated sugar and add it to your food processor. This will turn it into a powdered consistency which you can then shake into your bag of unsweetened coconut.
You can also use this trick with sugar substitutes like stevia to quickly make that coconut sweet and ready for us immediately!