Many cuisines require coconut milk and grated coconut. These days, most supermarkets stack coconut milk tins, but the taste of freshly made coconut milk is far better than the tinned varieties which are usually filled with preservatives. You can always buy frozen grated or shredded coconut packets but even these tend to have a rancid odor. Fresh coconut is soft, fleshy, and tender and you can use it in your seafood recipes or even for making all your vegan, paleo, or Keto recipes. So without further delay, let us learn how to open a coconut. We have included tips to open a coconut without tools along with recommendations for the best coconut breaking tool in the market.
1. In a convection oven
This is a time consuming but safe way to break open a coconut. Heating a coconut in a convection oven expands its shell making it easy to pry out its flesh and meat.
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Locate the three dark holes (called the eyes of the coconut) at the top of the coconut. Using a screwdriver, pierce the three holes. You’d need a hammer to drive the screwdriver into the holes.
- Place the coconut on a baking sheet and keep the sheet on the middle rack of the oven.
- Heat the coconut for about 15 minutes. The heat will expand the shell and also loosen the meat.
- The shell might also crack open in the oven itself.
- Remove the coconut carefully, using a kitchen towel. Cool it down a little and then gently pry open the shell.
2. A simple way to drain a green coconut
Green or tender young coconuts are filled with deliciously sweet water and tender meat. In South Asian countries, experts drain the water from tender green coconuts using a machete. We would never recommend this method at home; it is dangerous and most of us do not have machetes. However, you can still open a green coconut husk easily with these steps:
- Insert a sharp chef’s knife in the tip between the body of the coconut and the small-cap to which the coconut stem attaches to the tree.
- Cut off the cap-follow the round shape. Expose the tender beige husk.
- Use a paring knife into the cut portion and work the knife around as you would carve a pumpkin.
- You can now easily pour the water out or insert a straw and sip the water.
- Also, insert a spoon or a scraping tool to remove the coconut meat.
3. How to break a coconut by hand
In many South Asian countries like India, people easily break-open brown hardened shell of ripe coconuts without using any tools. Here are the steps to break a coconut with the hand:
- Remove the coconut husk. In dried coconuts, the husk comes out easily by pulling. You may need a sharp tool, a flat stone, or a screwdriver or knife to insert into the husk and rip it off.
- Once the inner dried coconut is exposed, hit the coconut on the ground several times.
- It helps if the ground is flat, hard, and devoid of mud. Marble or tiled floors work well. Avoid muddy ground. You can also throw the coconut several times from a height on a stone or paved path. However, when you use this method to open a coconut, you may not be able to preserve its water.
- Alternatively, try hitting the coconut on a hard stone. Keep a glass handy to collect the water inside the coconut.
4. Opening a ripe coconut – cleaver method
A sturdy kitchen cleaver is easily one of the best tools for breaking a coconut with the hand.
- Hold the coconut in hand, horizontally.
- Take a sturdy kitchen cleaver and tap it along the coconut’s midsection, horizontally.
- Go around the coconut, tapping.
- Do this several times until you get fissures on the hard, ripened shell of the coconut.
- By now, the coconut shell should open into halves.
- You can easily use a small paring knife to remove the white flesh of the coconut.
- You can also work the knife between the coconut meat and the shell and pry it upwards.
- Be careful when using this method.
5. Using the microwave
This is an easy way to break open a coconut which does not take too much time.
- Pierce the three ‘eyes’ of the coconut.
- Drain out the water.
- Place the coconut in the microwave, directly on the turntable.
- Heat on high for 3 minutes.
- The shell will crack open.
- Remove and allow it to cool.
6. With coconut breaking tools
There are many coconut breaking tool sets available online and offline. Some of these kits contain tools for breaking open mature and ripe coconuts; others only for green and young coconuts. Many sets also contain a scraping tool for scraping coconut meat. The benefit of using coconut breaking toolsets is that they are safe and easy and you no longer need to struggle with dangerous knives and hammers.
How to eat a coconut
Now that you have successfully opened a coconut, here are things you can do with the meat.
Toasted coconut is readily available in the market but you can make your own. It is easy and delicious and a great snack.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Slice the coconut into ‘chips’.
- Evenly spread the chips on a baking sheet.
- Bake for five minutes. Remove the tray and spread the chips evenly by turning the pan in the opposite direction. Bake for another couple of minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Delicious and healthy coconut milk
Coconut milk is a healthy substitute for dairy and is rich in protein and healthy fats.
- Place 2 cups of shredded fresh coconut in the blender along with water. You can take 1 cup of water for thicker milk and 2 cups of water for thinner milk.
- Blend for a few minutes.
- Strain the mixture over a fine-mesh sieve or a nut milk bag into a clean vessel.
- You can dry the pulp and use it to make coconut flour.
Spicy coconut chips
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Use a mandolin to slice the coconut meat into 2-to-3 inch long strips.
- In a bowl, place the strips, and add one tablespoon each melted coconut oil and maple syrup. Add salt and ground chipotle powder to taste.
- Spread the chips evenly around on a baking sheet.
Coconut is great to eat as is. You can also make tasty dips to serve with fruit or vegetable platters or in the form of coconut shavings or coconut whipped toppings on cakes. Coconut chutney eaten with soft, steamed rice balls is an amazing breakfast food served in Asian countries. It is loaded with probiotics. Now that you know how to break open a coconut, try out some of these tasty coconut recipes that your family will surely love.