The Best Way to Crack Open a Coconut

Emily Kate Roemer

It seems that coconut water is still all the rage these days, but the store-bought, pasteurized version can get pretty pricey. Why not try making your own? It’ll have a richer coconut flavor, and, as an added bonus, you’ll get all that delicious meat inside that’s perfect for cooking and baking. Both tasks are much easier than they look-just follow our test kitchen’s top tips and tricks.

RELATED: MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR COCONUT WITH THESE FLAVORFUL RECIPES

Image zoom Emily Kate Roemer

How to Extract the Water

First, locate the three “eyes” at the stem end of the coconut. Use a screwdriver to test which one is the softest, then pierce.

Image zoom

Next, invert the coconut over a bowl or glass and shake if necessary. Once you get all the water out, it’s time to move on to the meat!

RELATED: THREE WAYS TO USE COCONUT OIL

How to Extricate the Meat

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until the hard outer shell begins to crack. Remove coconut and set aside until cool enough to handle. Next, wrap coconut in a kitchen towel; holding coconut with one hand, tap it with the back of a cleaver or chef’s knife, or hit it with a hammer, in the same place several times, then pry open. Separate coconut meat from the shell with a spoon. Remove the brown skin with a vegetable peeler, if desired, then shred, grate, or chop the meat.

Watch our Kitchen Conundrums expert Thomas Joseph break down the techniques above, as well as demonstrate how to handle young green coconuts:

The Secret to Successfully Opening and Eating a Fresh Coconut

Tired of buying expensive drinks and pre-cut coconut just so you can enjoy that post-workout pick me up? Now, getting at that sweet coconut liquid and flesh is actually DIY doable thanks to the dynamic duo of Cooking Channel’s Eden Grinshpan of edeneats.com and her sister Renny Grinshpan. Follow along as she shows you how to drain and open a coconut in just a few quick steps. First up: Find the soft ‘eye’ of the coconut, and then (with the coconut secured on a hard, flat surface) use a screwdriver and hammer to puncture the hard shell. Repeat this process once more to open a second hole (which allows air inside to make the coconut water flow out easier) Finally, strain and drink up!

Coconut water is referred to as ‘nature’s sports drink’ for a reason: Eight ounces delivers 30 mg of sodium and around 10 percent of your daily dose of potassium, says registered dietitian Keri Gans, which make it a great choice for a hangover cure! (Get to know the coconut a little more with other surprising things you don’t know about coconut water.)

Don’t let that juicy coconut meat go to waste. Once you’ve gulped down or reserved the coconut water, take a heavy knife and hit sharp blade around the diameter of the coconut. Then use the screwdriver and hammer again to crack open the coconut in half along this worn-down “seam”. Rinse and eat!

But beyond its post-workout recovery benefits as a drink, the flesh is also packed with nutrients. Coconut meat is rich in both fiber and protein-plus it’s loaded with manganese, which supports your immune and nervous systems, and copper, which is responsible for the production of red blood cells, says Gans. You can also reap major beauty and metabolism-boosting benefits from these 10 Tasty Coconut Oil Recipes. Just watch your portion size since the meat can be a bit high in saturated fat! Impressed with the girls’ hilarious yet informative tutorial? Then you’ll love them show you how to cut and eat a pomegranate, too!.

  • By By Kylie Gilbert

Top 4 Fun and Delicious Ways to Eat Coconuts You’ll Love

Have you ever taken a really good look at some of the fruits and vegetables as you walk through the produce section? There are some really funky looking foods in there. But, as the old saying goes, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. The same goes for coconuts. Although their exterior may look intimidating, the fruit inside tastes incredible and offers a ton of amazing benefits.

Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to eat this healthy fruit!

How to Open a Coconut with Ease

Let’s start with the basics: opening the coconut.

You’re going to need a coconut, a large bowl, a screwdriver, and a hammer. After cleaning your tools thoroughly, place the tip of the screwdriver into the eye of the coconut. Use the hammer to hit the screwdriver deep into the fruit, then proceed to make two more holes directly beside it. Drain the coconut water out of the fruit and into a bowl. You can drink the coconut water right away, or save it for later!

Once the water is drained, hit along the circumference of the coconut with your hammer, turning the fruit in a full circle. You’ll start to notice a hairline fracture appear, and shortly after the coconut will bust open.

How easy was that?

Raw or Frozen Chunks

You can simply cut out the coconut meat and enjoy it raw and fresh. Try eating it raw as a light snack, or add it into another dish. Alternatively, you can freeze the coconut meat and eat it frozen as a cool, refreshing snack.

You can even buy frozen coconut chunks from the frozen section of most grocery stores. This makes for a quick and easy snack, without all the prep work. You can easily store the bag of frozen coconut chunks in your freezer at home, or bring to work for a midday snack.

Coconut Water

Coconut water is known around the world as nature’s sports drink. It’s low in calories, free of fat and cholesterol, contains less sugar and sodium than popular sports drinks, and much more potassium. In fact, it has more potassium than four bananas.

You can simply drink coconut water, or you can cook with it! Try adding coconut water to your rice, smoothies, sauces, dressings, and more!

Although good for you, you shouldn’t overdo it. It’s not hard to drink your calories, which isn’t a good idea, especially while on a weight loss journey. In saying that, coconut water makes a great substitute for sugary drinks, soda, and most sports drinks.

Fruit Salad

Coconut slices can make a great addition to just about any fruit salad! With a light, sweet, and crisp dressing, you could include a variety of different fruits!

Try including strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, mango, and/or melon to your fruit salad. For a little extra coconut, you could also add shredded coconut as a garnish and coconut milk into the dressing.

Coconut Oil

Looking for health benefits? Look no further than coconut oil. Coconut oil can be purchased from many retail grocery stores and health food stores, and is best stored in a cool, dark place at room temperature. Any warmer than that, and chances are it will melt.

Some of the benefits of coconut oil include:

  • Stronger, healthier hair
  • Smooth and healthy skin
  • Weight loss and improved weight maintenance
  • Immune system boost
  • Improved digestion

This list includes just a few of the many benefits coconut oil can have. You can use it on your skin and hair, a little bit every day, or even create a hair or face mask. It’s been shown to greatly improve damaged hair and skin, helping it to grow stronger, healthier, and more vibrant than ever before.

Coconut oil is perfectly safe to eat. Most people use it as a replacement for cooking oil, and it can even be added to other recipes, such as smoothies. Although it shouldn’t replace other cooking oils completely, as they offer their own range of health benefits.

Looking for more healthy living and weight loss tips and tricks? Check out the other articles in the SmartShape™ Weight Loss Centre online blog section.

Cuckoo for Coconuts: How to Buy and Eat Young Coconuts

Photos provided by Danette “Dizzle” Rivera.

Coconut water has made a huge splash on the scene; the American, athletically-minded scene that is. For more than a year, the number of coconut water companies fighting for space on a Whole Food’s shelf has exploded. I counted ten different companies the last time I was there – a half hour ago.

But we’re late to the game. South Asia, the Caribbean, Hawaii (pre-U.S.), and South America, to name a few, must all think we’re adorable to have found this “new” health fad. Some raw foodies have been using young coconuts for many, many years. The first documented use of coconut water dates back a few centuries, though most likely it has been used for much longer since coconut palms are believed to have been around thousands of years.

The health benefits of coconut water are highly touted. And we’ve tucked these facts under our arm and run with them because we desperately want a natural sports drink besides water. We don’t want to believe that a neon red, electrolyte-enriched sugar bomb is our best option. But more than that, we want it to be refreshing and delicious, and on this I have to defer to the islanders and half the planet by saying that nothing beats a fresh young coconut. The cans and cartons of coconut water don’t even come close.

The white, cone-head nut now seen in health food stores is what I’m talking about.

The pristine liquid hidden inside will blow your hair back. The meat of the young coconut is also very delicious. It’s soft, gel-like and it’s an amazing, creamy base for shakes and other recipes. The younger the coconut, the more translucent the meat is. It’s almost purple. As the coconut ages, the meat hardens. An old coconut is covered in a dark brown husk with very hard meat inside.

You could conveniently grab a couple young coconuts from Whole Foods at up to $4 a piece, but you will find them much cheaper at a Thai market. If you live in a big city, you most likely have a Thai market tucked away in a neighborhood not far from you. If not, I would check an Indian or Asian or even Latino market for availability. If this is not an option, you might be able to get a discount for buying a case at a health food store.

Once you have your coconut, the next big obstacle is how to open the damn thing. Here is a tutorial:

1. Put the young coconut on its side and start cutting the top, pointed husk off with a sharp knife. A regular sharp chef knife is cool. You don’t need a machete, cleaver, or hack saw.

2. Cut away as much of the husk as possible until the nut is crowning. The spines of the nut should be bare, like this.

3. With the bottom edge of your knife, come down pretty aggressively at the base of one of the spines, creating a good cut in the shell all the way through. Good eye-hand coordination is probably useful here, but you’ll get it. Just keep your free hand out of the way, will ya. Repeat at the base of all the spines. Do the same in between the spines, at the base, until the top of the shell feels loose. Drain a little water into a container if it starts to splash while you are opening.

4. With your fingers, you should be able to pry the top up. Keep prying – it’s like nature’s coconut hat. Or pop top? Maybe like a tupperware lid. You get the idea.

5. Ta-da! Filled with yummy water minus many shards of shell like if you were to take a hammer to it. You can stick a straw in it now and call it a day or you can go on to make many delicious things.

6. If you want to use the meat and water for a recipe, first scoop the goodness off the “nature hat.” Or pop top. Whatever. Then scoop the meat out of the main cabin. Mmm.

Then make something amazing like a shake.

Here’s how:

Put the all the water and meat in a blender. Add 2 spoonfuls of raw almond butter or about a 1/4 c. of raw almonds, though I recommend the almond butter. Add 5 fresh, pitted dates, a half cup of water and about 4 ice cubes into the blender. Blend until smooth. At this point I usually put about half in a jar to save for the next day because this recipe will serve 2-4; for me, 2. With the half still remaining in the blender, add about 6-8 ice cubes and blend really well. The consistency will be like soft ice cream. Sometimes I top the shake with a couple chopped walnuts and/or almonds, a few goji berries, a couple shavings of dried coconut and a couple cocoa nibs. This shake will knock your socks off.

Here’s a recipe for my delicious Raw Coconut Thai Soup, which serves 3-6:

(Any of the specifically raw ingredients can be sub’ed with the not-raw versions)

Ingredients:

  • 2 young coconuts – meat & water
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2-3 TBSP sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Juice of 1 ½ lemons
  • 2-3 TBSP Nama Shoyu (raw soy sauce)
  • 1” of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp. raw agave
  • 1 tsp salt

Grind together in a coffee grinder:

  • 6 kaffir lime leaves w/out stock (pick up at the Thai market!)
  • 3-4 TBSP of sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

Set aside:

  • fresh basil, chopped
  • ½ zucchini, julienned
  • ¼ – ½ of a red bell pepper, julienned
  • Slices of avocado & sesame seeds for garnish
  1. Blend all ingredients except the chopped vegetables and basil.
  2. Warm slowly, slightly. Only heat to about room temperature or just over.
  3. Pour into bowl and add fresh veggies and basil, split between servings
  4. Top with a couple slices of avocado and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

SO GOOD!

I feel it responsible to tell you that there is an ongoing argument about the chemicals used to preserve imported young coconuts. Many believe formaldehyde is still used – formaldehyde! – and though this is still speculative, there is most likely some sort of pesticide on non-organic coconuts.

I personally haven’t stopped buying them, which I’m a bit torn about, but organic coconuts are hard to come by and very expensive. I also like to tell myself the sterile water at the center of the nut that’s protected like Fort Knox is not affected much. This may not be the case. That said, the majority of coconut water flying off the shelves is non-organic, meaning we could be drinking formaldehyde juice anyway, just in can, just not as delicious. It’s hard to tell right now. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy young coconuts as a refreshing recovery drink and as an amazing base to many recipes.

How to Crack and Use a Whole Coconut

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we’re sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: Get out your hammer — it’s time to crack open some coconuts.

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When it comes to cooking with coconut, it’s difficult to persuade cooks not to use the pre-shredded, flaked, and sweetened kind in the plastic bags. And while I’m by no means saying there isn’t a time and a place for those things, fresh coconut just can’t be beat. Tall coconut layer cake, coconut-crusted shrimp, and coconut chutney are some of the nut’s best showcases — the fresh-grated meat shining in each, thanks to its rich, perfumed fat.

Many cooks have called for placing whole coconuts in an oven and letting the heat crack the shell open. This process works perfectly fine for getting the shell off, but it warms the meat inside, softening it too much for my liking — and if I want the coconut raw for a salad, then I’ll end up with a soft, spongey product. Hacking into one of those damned things isn’t the easiest, but with my trick, it can be really fun — especially if you have lots of aggression pent up.

The only tools you need are a hammer and a flathead screwdriver — which, if you don’t have these tools already around, you should go buy them so no one will ridicule you in the future — and an old towel that you don’t mind roughing up.

First things first: Let’s get the water out from inside the coconut. It’s nutritious, refreshing, and a helluva lot cheaper and greener than buying it from a bottle. Fold the towel so it creates a thick nest and sit the coconut on top. Position the coconut so its “eyes,” the three bowling ball-like holes, are facing up. Place the tip of the screw driver into one eye, and use the hammer to tap the screw driver through the eye, swiveling the screw driver as you remove it to make a bigger hole. Repeat this with the other two eyes, then tip the coconut over a bowl and let the water slowly drain out. Strain this through a fine strainer, and drink up, or refrigerate it and use it later for moistening a cake or cooking white rice to serve with a curry.

Next, the fun part: Unfold the towel completely and wrap the coconut in it, grabbing all four corners of the towel in your hand to create a sling for the coconut.

Imitating someone chopping wood with an ax, swing the towel with the coconut around from your back and slam it onto a hard concrete surface (I used my backyard patio, but if you live in the city, a stoop works just as well). If you use a good deal of force, the coconut should be cracked open into at least a few large chunks.

Remove the chunks from the towel, and wedge the screwdriver tip between the shell and coconut meat, and start prying. It should come off fairly easily, in large pieces.

Then using a vegetable peeler, simply strip off the brown skin from the meat.

There you have it, fresh raw coconut that you can toss in your food processor to shred and use immediately, or wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it later. And if you need way more coconut than just one will give you, I recommend inviting several of your closest friends over for a coconut cracking party. Everyone will have a blast slamming coconuts on the sidewalk and you’ll have all that coconut cleaned up in minutes…just act normal when the cops get called on you for practicing a shocking new cult ritual.

How do you use fresh coconut? Let us know in the comments!

I suppose my title is slightly misleading in that it’s actually incredibly easy to eat a raw coconut… it’s getting the flesh out of the coconut that’s the problem. Once it’s out, it’s actually hard not to eat the coconut – it’s absolutely delicious! But you definitely have to work for it.

One of my future cooking classes is going to be about raw foods and it just so happens that whole, raw coconuts make for some excellent raw sauces. BUT, it takes hard work and practice to use a raw coconut. The coconut pictured below is my 4th attempt at using raw coconut and I actually felt that it was pretty easy to do this time. Coconuts will now officially be part of my every diet and can be part of your’s too if you follow these simple instructions.

1. Locate the 3 holes on the coconut (think “bowling ball”). Place the coconut on a hard surface with the 3 holes facing up. Wrap a towel around the base of the coconut so that it remains upright even when you let it go. Place a flathead screwdriver on one of the holes and hammer it through the flesh (hold the screwdriver in place with one hand and hit the end of the handle of the screwdriver with a hammer). Repeat for all 3 holes.

2. Once you’ve made holes in your coconut, turn the coconut upside down over a clean glass and drain all of the coconut water from inside the coconut. The water will be slight dirty but I let it sit while I work on the rest of the coconut and much of the husk fiber falls to the bottom of the glass. I then carefully pour the water though a fine mesh strainer, leaving the fiber in the bottom of the glass. Reserve the water for sauces, smoothies or for just drinking!

3. Now that the liquid has been removed, place your coconut on a hard surface (I bring mine outside to use the stone patio) and bash your coconut open with a hammer. Hit it a few good times till you’re left with 5 – 10 pieces.

4. The coconut flesh must now be separated from the husk. This can be accomplished in one of two ways (I needed both, actually). For larger pieces, wedge the flathead screwdriver between the husk and the flesh and slowly work the coconut away from the husk. The flesh will pop out in large chunks. If you’re unable to get the screwdriver started, use a butter knife to cut down into the flesh till you hit the husk and then twist the knife and the coconut will pop off of the husk. Using the butter knife “method” you have to work the coconut away from the husk in small pieces (1″ x 1″ or so).

5. Once the coconut has been removed from the husk, you’ll need to peel the coconut. For larger pieces, use a vegetable peeler. For smaller pieces, carefully cut the peel away with a sharp knife.

6. Rinse your coconut and thoroughly enjoy! You earned it!

OlekStock/iStock/GettyImages

Coconut is one of the true MVPs of health and beauty. It’s credited with the ability to do everything from build muscle to reduce blood pressure, and it can even do your taxes (okay, that last one isn’t true). At this point, it wouldn’t be surprising if Time named coconut as the 2019 Person of the Year. Processing an entire raw coconut, though, remains pretty darn intimidating.

Coconuts are the largest nut in existence, so naturally, it takes a few special steps to crack ‘em open—but it’s worth it. Fresh coconut meat and water tastes a million times yummier than the packaged kind. Whether you plan to cook with it or eat it as a snack, raw coconut is packed with nutritional benefits, including tons of minerals, fiber, protein, and energy-boosting fats.

In many coconut-growing countries, locals traditionally use a sharp machete to chop coconuts open. For people with experience, machetes are easy to wield, but for others? Not so much. Thankfully, there is another less-terrifying method of coconut preparation. All you need is a baking sheet, a screwdriver, and a hammer.

Heat the coconut in the oven

First, it’s helpful to heat up the entire coconut so the meat will loosen more easily from the thick, hard coconut shell.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the whole coconut onto a baking sheet and pop it into the oven for around 20 minutes. Then, set the coconut aside to cool.

Drain the water

Next, look for three indentations near the stem; these are the “eyes” of the coconut. Use a screwdriver (or a skewer or ice pick) to test these indentations to find the softest one. Then, poke the screwdriver through to create a small hole.

Turn the coconut upside down over a glass or bowl and give it a good shake to get all of the water out.

Open and remove the meat

Lastly, grab a hammer and a towel. Wrap the coconut in the towel, and with a light but firm hand, use the hammer to tap the coconut near the hole you created. Keep tapping until the coconut breaks in two.

Congratulations—you have now cracked a coconut! At this point, you can simply use your hands to peel the meat away from the shell bit by bit. Use a butter knife if necessary.

If you notice brown bits still attached to the skin, that’s normal. It’s called the coconut pellicle, and it’s safe to eat. If you prefer, though, you can also remove the coconut pellicle with a regular vegetable peeler.

The meat can be eaten fresh or used in any coconut recipes. You can grate it, shred it, toss it into a food processor—the sky is the limit.

Try an easy coconut recipe

Fresh coconut water is delicious plain. Cool it in the refrigerator for a refreshing, hydrating, and nutrient-rich drink. It’s also a great addition to coconut cocktail recipes.

The meat, on the other hand, can be used for endless coconut recipes. If you have no idea where to start, try conquering these two basic coconut preparations.

Toasted Coconut:

  1. Divide the meat into strips.
  2. Toast it on the stove for about 10 minutes until it’s browned and smells delicious.
  3. Eat plain or add it to baked goods, granola, oatmeal, fruit salad, or trail mix.

Homemade Coconut Milk:

  1. Add 2 cups of shredded coconut to a high-speed blender.
  2. Add 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt.
  3. Blend until well combined.
  4. Test the consistency and texture. If it’s too thick, add another cup of water.
  5. Strain the liquid through a nut milk bag, cheesecloth, or a thin, clean towel.
  6. Pour into a container and refrigerate.

You now have fresh, edible raw coconut—and nobody got hurt with a machete.

The largest nut there is, the whole coconut has a smooth outer covering (what you see hanging from the tree) that’s often removed before shipping. A whole coconut is the fruit of a coconut palm, and the hard globe with the familiar hairy brown husk is actually the seed. The translucent juice inside is refreshing, not too sweet, and a popular drink throughout the tropics (but don’t confuse the juice with coconut milk, the creamy liquid made by pulverizing the flesh, mixing it with water, and squeezing, or “milking,” it).

Chunks of fresh coconut meat are a world away from the shredded, packaged version. Crack open a whole coconut and the payoff is fresh, round flavor that walks the line between savory and sweet. Fresh coconut gives haunting, rich depth to Southeast Asian, Indian, and Jamaican curries and stews and adds texture and nutty sweetness to fruit salads, cakes, and cookies. Plus, the juice (also called coconut water) is a delicious and healthful hot-weather refresher.

Coconut meat is rich in iron and a good source of potassium. It’s high in saturated fat, but natural coconut oil supposedly enhances your immune system, improves digestion, helps the body absorb minerals, and improves your overall cholesterol ratio. The thin brown skin is edible and high in fiber. Coconut juice is just about the best source of electrolytes around.

HOW TO BUY

A good coconut feels heavy for its size. When you shake it, you should hear the juice sloshing around. There should be no mold around the eyes (the 3 indentations at the stem end of the shell). Some coconuts are sold already scored around their equator to make cracking easier.

HOW TO USE

To crack: Baking a coconut for 20 minutes at 350°F makes it easier to remove the shell. Let the coconut cool, then:

  1. With a hammer and a screwdriver or ice pick, pierce a hole in 2 of the eyes. Invert the coconut to drain the juice. With a hammer, tap the screwdriver until the nut breaks in half.

  2. Set each half, flesh side down, on the work surface, so it’s stable. Tap each piece with the hammer to break up.

  3. Break the coconut into chunks with your hands. Then, with a table knife, dislodge the meat from the shell.

4.The brown skin of the coconut is edible, but it can be peeled off if desired.

  1. Try these 3 simple preparations: — Toast peeled strips of coconut in a dry skillet over low heat until browned and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle coconut strips over oatmeal or granola, or toss them with nuts and dried fruit for an easy-to-eat and satisfying hiking or travel snack.

— Sprinkle finely grated coconut-fresh or toasted-over a tropical fruit salad of fresh mango, papaya, orange, and banana.

— Mix chilled coconut juice with a few splashes of ginger beer and a squeeze of lime for a tasty tropical drink.

HOW TO STORE

A whole coconut will keep at room temperature for up to a month. After taking the meat out of the shell, store it wrapped in plastic in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

How to eat coconuts?

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