How to Open A Coconut

It’s easy, with a little “elbow grease”.

The steps are simple.  First, gather your tools:


~screwdriver –or– a large nail (clean)
~vegetable peeler
~measuring cup, or other vessel
~a hard surface you can beat on

Locate the eyes of the coconut. These circles are the softest part of the shell. You want to use the hammer to drive the end of the screwdriver or nail through at least two of these – just until punctured through the flesh. It should go through fairly easily.

I placed my coconut inside a measuring cup to help stabilize it while I beat on it. 

Drain the coconut water into a cup and save it for later. You can run it through a fine mesh then drink it, or use it in your coconut milk later (a tastier option, methinks).

The amount of water in each coconut will vary. Just give it a few shakes to make sure most of the moisture is out of it. 

Use the knife to score a line around the center of the shell. You may have to make two or more passes to see a visible line. Don’t blow a gasket doing it. The idea is just to create a vulnerability in the shell to encourage cracking when you slug it with the hammer.  The jury is still out on whether the score line is even necessary, but I think it helps (if only in my own mind). 

Then whack that sucker!  It should crack in a few good blows.  It helps to rotate it with each wallop.  This is a great steam-blowing-off kind of activity. There’s no therapy quite like hitting stuff with a hammer. Am I right?

As you can see, my crack line only partially followed the score line.

Use the hammer to break the shells into smaller pieces.

Use the knife to pry the flesh away from the shell. It takes some fiddling around (just a bit) and you’ll find a system that works for you.  Mostly, it should just “pop” off without having to break much of a sweat.

Please take note: my cutting board got the snot beat out of it. Fortunately I had used the back side. You’ve been warned.  In the warmer months, I take the coconuts outside and hammer on the concrete pavers. 

This is a super handy tip: instead of using a knife to try and peel away the thin brown skin from the flesh, save yourself some under-your-breath swearing and use a vegetable peeler. 

The carnage.

Rinse off your coconut and enjoy as is or put it in your blender with some filtered water (enough to cover) and blend it to make both fresh coconut milk and shredded coconut. 

Strain the blended mixture through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer.  Spread the shredded coconut on a cookie sheet and put in a low temperature oven or dehydrator until dry, stirring once or twice. 
Tip: You can use your dried shredded coconut again to make coconut milk as needed. Simply place in your blender with water and repeat above steps. 
It’s not at all tropical weather here in snowy Montreal at the moment, but I can pretend with my fresh, delicious coconut. It’s worth the effort, don’t you think?

More about Julie Prescesky

Julie spends much of her time paying attention to what's happening around her. At Design Inkarnation, she's head designer, illustrator, writer and creative problem solver.

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