How to Open a Coconut
Here, how to crack a mature coconut and how to open and drink from a young one.
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By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen
Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.
Coconuts might seem impenetrable, but that hard outer husk conceals a delicious sweet meat that's packed with healthy fat and minerals. With a little work, you can enjoy the benefits of this superfood. Follow our tips to get to the prize inside.
How to Choose a Coconut
If you're buying a coconut for the meat, opt a mature coconut, which will have a hard shell covered in brown hairy fibers.
On the other hand, a young coconut will have lots of coconut water inside. Young coconuts are typically sold peeled and wrapped in plastic.
Either way, here are some tips for buying a high-quality coconut. First, pick up the coconut. It should feel heavy for its size. Shake the coconut: you should hear some water sloshing around, both mature and ripe coconuts should have some water inside. Avoid any coconuts with cracks, mold or wet exteriors.
How to Open a Mature Coconut
Tools to Open a Coconut
Wash all tools in hot, soapy water before using.
- Cutting board
- Screwdriver or metal barbecue skewer
- Liquid measuring cup
- Mallet or hammer
Poke the "Eyes" of the Coconut
Poke the three eyes with a skewer to find the one that's soft. Push the skewer through the soft eye, working it in to create a 1/2-inch hole. If necessary, use the hammer to force the screwdriver through.
Drain the Water
Invert the coconut over a measuring cup or bowl and shake to release the liquid. That’s fresh coconut water! Drink it, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Crack the Coconut
Hold a folded kitchen towel in your hand and nestle the coconut into it. Firmly tap the equartor with a meat mallet or hammer, turning as needed, until the shell starts cracking in half.
Loosen the Flesh
Split the shell, then put the coconut cut side down on a flat surface. Tap with the mallet to loosen the flesh.
Pry Out the Flesh
Carefully pry the flesh away from the shell with a butter knife.
Peel the Skin
Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, peel the thin brown skin off the flesh, then rinse the pieces.
Prep the Coconut Flesh
Shred the coconut meat with a peeler or grater to use in granola or desserts, or just break it into chunks and enjoy as a snack. Fresh coconut will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Shredded coconut will keep for 1 to 2 days.
How to Open and Drink from a Young Coconut
Yep, you can cut open a young coconut and drink from it with a straw -- just like you do at Mexican restaurants. Here's the step-by-step.
Slice off the Tip
Lay a coconut on its side on a cutting board. Using force, slice off the pointed tip with a sharp chef's knife.
Cut a Square In the Top
Stand the coconut cut side up and cut a square into the tough flesh on top; pry out the square with the tip of the knife to access the water inside.
Stick a Straw In
A young coconut contains about 1 1/2 to 2 cups water, which tastes slightly sweet and floral. To drink it, insert a straw right into the hole. Alternatively, invert a glass over the opening, then flip the glass and coconut together to drain the water into the glass.
Remove the Flesh
Before, during or after you drink the coconut water you can scoop the soft coconut meat out of the shell. A long-handled spoon like an iced-tea spoon is a good option. You can eat it or save it to use in another dish like a fruit salad or pudding.
Recipes with Coconut
This whole snapper dish everything. Stunning, delicious and a serious showstopper of an entree. You can substitute fresh coconut for the unsweetened flakes.
Coconut-breaded tofu is a plant based version of coconut shrimp: oven-fried to crispiness and served with snap peas and a spicy-sweet sauce.
Chia and coconut milk magically become pudding overnight in the fridge. Topped with fruit and nuts, it’s a great breakfast or dessert. This is a great recipe to top with the soft young coconut meat.
Coconut and mango grow in the same regions around the world, so pairing them in any recipe is a no brainer. The shredded coconut here is toasted, which brings out so much flavor.
Finely chopped fresh cranberries are mixed with coconut sugar, mint hot fresh chile pepper and unsweetened coconut. Swap all of the coconut for fresh or make the relish as described and use the fresh as a garnish.