Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How to Cut a Coconut

When coconuts were advertised for $1 recently, I decided it was time to learn how to cut a coconut. It seemed so intimidating to me. How was I going 'to cut' through the coconut? I'll ruin my good knives.

Oh, silly me. You don't cut through a coconut. You take a hammer from your husband's workbench and give it a good whack...or several whacks...but there are few steps before that.

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How to Cut a Coconut

  1. Find the three eyes at one end of the coconut.
  2. Take a clean nail. Again, I had to raid my husband's workbench. Wash the nail. Only 1 out of the 3 eyes will be soft enough to poke through.
  3. You'll have to test each eye until you find the soft one. I was able to poke the nail through one of the eyes without a hammer.
  4. After you poke through the hole, pour the coconut water into a bowl. You can see that  I had some husks fall into the bowl as I shook the coconut, but I strained the water through a sieve and got rid of most of it. I set the water aside in the refrigerator to add to smoothies.
  5. Pop the coconut into a preheated 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.  This will warm the hard shell and make it easier to crack and separate the inside meat from the shell.
  6. Remove the coconut from the oven with an oven mitt. It's hot.  Wrap it with a dish towel. Take a hammer and start carefully whacking all over the center of the nut. I found it easier to hold the towel and coconut steady on a counter while I whacked. Make sure you hit the coconut and not your hand...really this isn't a dangerous kitchen skill.

    (Please note that I did have this coconut wrapped in a towel when I started hitting it with a hammer. For the photo, I removed the towel. But the coconut is pretty warm from the oven to hold without a towel and the towel also contains the brown husk from flying all over your kitchen...don't ask me how I know that.)
  7. It took several good whacks to get some cracks.
    Once you see cracks, it isn't long before the whole thing splits apart.
  8. Pull apart the hard shell from the meat.
  9. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the soft brown layer.
  10. Run the coconut meat through the small shredder of my food processor. It is now ready for use. The shredded coconut will not be a fine shred. If you want a finer shred, try pulsing the shredded coconut using the blade of the food processor. I left mine the way it was.

A few lessons about coconuts:
  •  When picking a coconut, shake it to hear if it has liquid in it. The below coconut did not have liquid and the inside didn't look very good when it split open. It was kinda grey. I tossed the whole coconut in the compost.

  • The only way to tell if a coconut is ripe enough is to taste the water and the meat. If it is slightly sweet and tasty, then use it, if it tastes oily and bitter then toss it. This is unsweetened coconut, so it's not going to taste like a Mounds bar.
  • If you have compost, be sure to throw the husk into it.

That's it. It really is easy. Have you ever cut a coconut to use in recipes or do you buy it already pre-shredded? Let us know in the comments.

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This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday and Your Green Resource at The Greenbacks Gal and Frugal Friday at Life as MOM and Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.


  1. The "soft brown layer" is quite edible, and tastes just fine. I have never removed it and I've eaten a lot of coconuts! If you want your coconut shredded and fancy-looking, I suppose that might be a good reason to remove it....but I would never do that.

    In fact, I wouldn't shred it either. Once you separate the coconut meat from the shell, the only really good place to put it your mouth!

    1. Thanks for the tip, Georgene. The next time I cut a coconut, I won't bother removing the soft brown layer. That will save me a step. I shredded the coconut, because I wanted to use in some baking recipes.

      Thanks for the comments!

  2. Found your post on WFMW...the inside won't taste like a mounds bar...hahahahaha!

  3. Hi Georgene!
    I host a weekly linky which is all about seasonal celebration and would love it if you popped over and linked a post! It's live right now! and starts every Sunday. Seasonal Celebration Linky Hope to see you there! Rebecca x


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