If you’re like me then you were one of those people who always walked past the coconuts in the grocery store because, let’s be honest, how the heck was I going to open that thing!?! After doing some research on the internet I found out it actually isn’t that hard! All you need is a blunt object, a sharp knife, some muscle, and patience.
I have chosen a mature coconut. There are young coconuts and mature coconuts. Mature coconuts will have more meat, but not as much liquid as a young coconut. Young coconuts also tend to be a bit sweeter. The meat of a mature coconut is also more firm than a young one. Here is what they both look like:
So how do you choose a good coconut? First, give it a good shake, there should be a substantial amount of liquid sloshing around inside and it should have some weight to it. Second, you need to look at the eyes, there are three of them. Make sure they are not mouldy or wet. They should be firm and dark brown. Also, there should be no visible cracks on your coconut and it should be a nice brown colour.Once you have picked your coconut you can now drain it. With a sharp paring knife poke each eye. Two will be quite firm, but one you will easily be able to poke the knife into. Keep twisting the knife until you have punctured through the coconut.Tip it upside down into a bowl or container and let it fully drain.At this point you should taste the water. It is another good indication if the coconut is good or not. The water should be mild and slightly sweet. It should not have a strong pungent or alcohol smell to it. If it does, then it has most likely gone bad.
Make sure you save the coconut water to drink later or add to your smoothies!
Now for the fun part! Cracking the coconut. All coconuts have a natural seam going lengthwise between the eyes called the equator, this is where you will hit it. Positioning your coconut in one hand using the eyes as finger grips, begin firmly whacking it with your other hand using your blunt object. Many people use a little hammer or the backside of a large knife. I didn’t feel comfortable using the back of a butcher knife, so I grabbed a pair of these pliers. They worked just great! Keep rotating the coconut and hitting it. Be careful not to get your fingers. It took me about 5-10 good whacks before it cracked in half, but I did it!Once you have it cracked in half, take one half and place it face down between an old dish towel or pillow case. Whack it a few more time to break it into a few pieces.Now you can detach the meat from the hard shell. Take the same paring knife and run it between the flesh and the shell prying it upwards. The meat should pop off easily. Don’t worry about the brown skin, it is fine to eat, or you can peel it off with a vegetable peeler.Once you have all the meat off, give it a good rinse. Congratulations! You just opened your first coconut!
Now you can either eat it as is, add it to a smoothie or make a number of things like coconut butter, cream or milk; or grate it and dry it for coconut shreds.
Next week I will show you how to make fresh coconut milk, yum!