Monday, June 25, 2012

Mom's Limber de Coco (coconut icy)

I grew up with a sign like this one hanging from the front window of our first floor apartment in Hartford, CT. Summer was the time when my mother, a cook of Puerto Rican traditional foods by trade and talent, would go into a limber-making frenzy. In the winter, she would turn her talents towards making pasteles, coquito, and arroz con dulce, in preparation for the Christmas season (another story, for another time). Neighborhood children, mostly Puerto Rican and African-American, would knock on the window all day long asking for "red" (cherry) icy, "blue" (blueberry) icy, and sometimes they wanted "leemón" (lime). The adults, mostly Puerto Ricans, mostly limber aficionados, would ask for the more traditional flavors: coco (coconut), parcha (passionfruit), tamarindo (tamarind), and piña (pineapple). My mom liked to experiment with her limbers, and so sometimes she would also make mango, piñacolada, and the most impressive of all, at least for me, maní! Aside from coco, which is of course, king among the limbers, for me, maní is a close second (oddly enough, I don't like peanut butter a whole lot). 

If I was home, and heard the taps on the window--which sometimes turned into  a violent stacatto of knocks from sweaty and desperate children--holding in their hands pennies, dimes, nickles, or whatever they could find, I would dispatch the limbers. My mother,  though, knowing that the others in the household were not always inclined to be on "limber duty," tried to stay at home during peak hours (as she called them), and hot days. During New England heat waves my mother basically sat by the window all day. My mother, being a gregarious, sociable woman, actually liked the window since this way she could report on all neighborhood events, life-stories, tragedies, etc. And although I am not one to sit by the window, I am a good listener and specially when it comes to the stories that make everyday life interesting! And selling limber was certainly one way to be in the know (something my mother is very talented at). 

We just suffered through an oppressive heatwave here in New England, and suddenly I had a strong desire to taste the cooling sweetness of a coconut limber.  So I decided that I would make limbers using my mother's recipe. I even did it her way, starting out from fresh coconuts, and making fresh coconut milk. (Of course, you can also easily substitute the hard labor for a can of coconut milk and get perfectly good results!)

I recruited my husband to crack the coconuts (they are rather hard, though my mother cracks them like a pro--certainly a good place to work out aggression, LOL). 
Once opened, we drank the coconut water. And began the task of removing the pulp.
We removed all the pulp, placed it in a blender to which you must add 3 to 4 cups of boiling water (depending on the size of the coconut). Blend together until pulp is grated, adding water if its too thick. 
Once blended, strain the pulp--making sure to push the pulp down with a spoon, as there will still be a lot of water in the pulp. The strained water is your fresh coconut milk. 
Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of vanilla extract to the coconut milk (you can substitute the fresh coconut milk for can coconut milk), add 1 to 2 cans cream of coconut (again, depending on how many limbers you want to make), and add 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder. If you enjoy the slightly gritty taste of the coconut pulp, you can go ahead and add some of the pulp you used to make the milk into the mixture, you can also substitute it with store bought coconut flakes, or skip adding pulp or flakes all together. In my house, I make a batch of pulpless limbers for my son, who is extremely picky about "things" in his food and another batch of pulpy limbers for my husband and me.
Here is Khalil eating a (pulpless) coconut limber in the shape of a popsicle (and our dog Amiga, hanging out in the background hoping Khalil's limber melts and drips so that she can get a taste). 
Here are some of the "grown-up" (pulpy) limbers made as my mother would make hers:  in vasitos de coco (small cups). 



  1. Nice story and recipe!! I love limbers : ) Thanks!

  2. Casi me puedo imaginar a tu mami en la ventana!! Oye no se pueden empacar en hielo seco y enviar por correo? Un abrazo, Nicole

    1. Gracias N! Bueno, cuando vaya para alla te preparo unos limbercitos, especial para ti! : ) abrazos!!

  3. Y para mi, tambien! (Porfa!) ;-)

  4. Replies
    1. Hi! Thanks for your message. Si, I know how to make parcha -- you have 2 options, the easy one first: you can buy the Goya packet, which I think is labeled "Maracuyá" -- and add water and sugar (as if you are making juice and then freeze--that will give you a tasty limber. The second option is you get a bunch of parchas, take out the pulp and using a blender blend the pulp together adding water--then you pour the mixture in a colander (to get rid of any seeds) and add more water and sugar to taste as if making a juice, then freeze to get a limber.

      hope this helps!

  5. Replies
    1. yeah, the tamarindo limber is the same process as the one I described for the parcha. You can buy the frozen goya tamarindo and add water and sugar to taste OR you can soak the tamarindos in water for an hour or so and then add to a blender (with the same water) blend and pass through a colander to get rid of any seeds, then add more water and sugar to taste and freeze.

      thanks for your message.

  6. This is how my grandmother made them. Most of the recipes online use canned coconut milk. But I will be making them this way. Thanks

  7. Thank you! It is nice to make it the way our loved ancestors made them. : ) Enjoy abuelas' recipe!