Conserva de coco is a sweet coconut candy. In my experience, the texture of conserva de coco varies depending on how long ago it was made. My recipe yields a conserva that is at first soft, sticky and pleasantly chewy, but by the next day it hardens a little. On the third day the conserva starts to get crunchy. When I started experimenting with making this it had been years since I had eaten an authentic freshly made conserva de coco so I wanted to be sure it was right – I brought half a batch to a local Salvadoran friend and she was super impressed. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Conserva de Coco
1 3/4 cups fresh shredded coconut, packed
2 cups sugar
11 ounces coconut water (right between 1 1/4 cups and 1 1/2 cups)
5 ounces water (right between a 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup)
3 big pinches of salt
Notes before we get started: Make sure you use coconut water, not coconut milk. Also, be certain that you use fresh shredded coconut, not the flaked coconut you find in the baking aisle. You may be able to find fresh shredded coconut in the freezer section of your grocery store if you don’t want to buy an actual coconut. When you measure the 1 and 3/4 cups of coconut, it should be packed down to ensure you’re getting the correct measurement. It’s highly recommended that you measure the coconut water and water in ounces to get the most accurate measurement.
1. Boil everything in a medium-sized pot, uncovered, over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Knowing when the conserva is ready was the tricky part for me the first time I made it. You will see the liquid begin to boil away and the mixture will thicken. Don’t be too eager to get it off the stove when you see it happen. The process can take a good 30 minutes or more. When the conserva really comes together the best indicator is if you see the coconut starting to brown a little – Time to remove it from heat!
2. Spread the conserva out on a flat heat-resistant surface. I found it easiest and less messy to put the conserva into a rectangular glass Pyrex baking dish. (I grease the dish with a little cooking spray to ensure it won’t stick, even though I suspect the natural oil of the coconut would prevent that from happening.)
3. Allow the conserva to cool several hours before cutting into pieces, (cubes, bars or squares.) Once cut in pieces, store in an airtight container. I found that it’s best eaten within 3 days, (I like it best the first and second day.)