by Cat, Aug 2007 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
See also: Coconut Milk, Water and Cream; Coconut Milk Kefir; Coconut Milk Yogurt
Inside that rough exterior of the coconut, is that wonderful white ‘meat’ that we know from Almond Joy and Mounds Bars, or coconut cream pie. But how do get inside that shell?
Getting inside the coconut shell
I’ve never actually tried to open a coconut, but I understand it isn’t easy unless you do it right. To help with that, I refer you to several websites on How to Open a Coconut, a few of which are video format.
- Text: WikiHow: how to open a coconut
- Text: eHow: how to make coconut milk
- Text: Thai Food and Travel: How to make coconut milk
- Video: YouTube: How to open a coconut (instructive)
- Video: YouTube: The coconut, how to open both types and remove the meat (instructive, regarding young and mature coconuts)
- Video: YouTube: Making coconut milk for dummies (very entertaining)
- Video: About.com: How to open a coconut and make coconut milk (instructive)
Here’s a summary:
1. Select a ripe coconut:
First select a ripe coconut. The season is October through December. You should be able to hear the liquid sloshing inside, when you shake it. Look for the three eyes at the smaller end. They should be in-tact and not damaged.
An average coconut yields 1 cup coconut cream, or 1 – 2 cups coconut milk, depending on how light a milk is desired.
NOTE: you can also use a young coconut; the method to open it is different. See the YouTube video: The coconut, how to open both types and remove the meat (instructive, for young and mature coconuts).
2. Extract coconut water:
Puncture one or two of the eyes with a sharp, thin tool like an awl, cork screw, or hammer and nail. Hold opened hole(s) over the bowl and let the coconut juice (coconut water) drain out. (You can skip this step, and simply drain out the water after cracking it open over a bowl). If not using the coconut water for another use (like kefir), you can add it to your coconut milk.
3. Open the coconut:
Crack it open by tapping the side with the blunt edge of a large knife or cleaver. Tap it hard, crosswise (against the grain), all around its equator. If it won’t open, try baking in oven (350°F) for 15 – 25 minutes (2); the heat will partially crack it and you can finish the job by tapping with that knife after letting the coconut cool.
Using the same tool, strike the halves to break them into smaller sections. Score the white meat with a sharp knife, then pull the meat away from the brown shell, one piece at a time, using a flexible knife such as a grapefruit knife. The meat will come with a thin brown skin which you can remove with a vegetable peeler.
At this point, you can shred it, peel it into curls, or process it with water to make Coconut Milk.
However, once you’ve opened it, if the shell or brown covering are starting turn black, and/or the meat is starting to yellow or orange, the coconut is going bad and should not be eaten. Toss is on the compost pile.