While shopping at Grocery Outlet a couple weeks ago, my son begged me for a coconut. He wanted to drink the coconut water and see what’s inside. As I like to encourage adventurous produce eating, I decided, let’s go for it. Now, I can’t say I recall ever buying a whole coconut with the shell before. It’s intimidated me. I’m mostly afraid I’m going to need some sort of power tools to break it open and then I’m going to injure myself and/or make a mess.
If that describes you, it’s time to conquer your coconut fears! I discovered an easy, non-dangerous way of cutting coconuts so now you, too, can enjoy fresh coconut water and coconut meat for your raw, vegan, Paleo, gluten-free, or any kind of diet really! A huge thank you to Healthful Pursuit for inspiration for today’s post.
Step one. Take a sharp knife and put a little pressure on each of the three spots on the top of the coconut until you find the “softest” one. When you find this, go ahead and gently make a hole. I found it helped to use a sharp knife to start the hole, and then finish the hole with the long, skinny part of a meat thermometer. A skewer or other long skinny kitchen tool may work too. So turns out you don’t need a drill, machete, ice pick or other dangerous tool to crack open your coconut!
Here’s what my coconut looked like with the hole punctured.
Step two. Drain your coconut over a glass. I opted for a mason jar because I could easily add a lid and store it in the fridge. How did I use my coconut water? I saved it to use for the next couple mornings’ smoothies.
Step three. After draining, place your coconut on a baking sheet and cook at 375° oven for 10 minutes. You might notice that the outer has a visible crack at this point. Whether or not it does, remove the coconut after 10 minutes! I cooked one of my coconuts for 20 minutes, waiting for that crack (which never happened), but this resulted in a burned coconut. EW.
Step four. Wrap the coconut in a clean dish towel and place it in the bottom of a heavy duty garbage bag (one of those black ones). This is important! I tried doing this next step with a cheapie kitchen bag and let me tell you, it broke open pretty quickly.
Go outside and smash the bag HARD against the ground. I found about 3-4 good whacks did the job. This is the point where the neighbors will likely question your sanity. Since I had a rather unfortunate incident where we rescued baby mosquitoes over the summer, I figure my neighbors already think I’m nuts. So this wasn’t a huge consideration for me.
Take your coconut bag back inside and unwrap your coconut. Yours should look more or less like mine, pictured above. The hard shell should now easily slip off the coconut.
At this point, you’ll still have the inner shell attached to the meat you’ll have to remove. And then you’re home free.
Step five. Now you could use a plain old potato peeler to remove the inner shell from the coconut meat, but I found it required quite a bit of effort and was awkward. So I pulled out my mandoline slicer instead (I own a similar version to this one = currently $9.98 on Amazon). This worked excellent! I put the setting to “super thin slices” and using my safety gloves, ran the pieces of coconut along the blade. Now you might think me a nerd for using these gloves, but let me tell you I started without them and managed to take a huge piece of skin off my finger. It’s easily the sharpest tool in my kitchen! So word to the wise – if you use a mandoline slicer, get some safety gloves! (I own these ones sold on Amazon for $8.89.)
There you have it! For about $2 – 3 (at most stores), you can enjoy a tall glass of coconut water, a nice portion of raw coconut meat, and if you have kids like mine – some interesting new crafting materials (coconut shell).
This process was so easy, but I should add, there is some prep time involved. From start to finish, expect to spend about 30 minutes processing a single coconut. For this reason, you might want to 1) cut up more coconut than one at a time and 2) process the coconut on a day you use to prepping weekly ingredients.
Now what to do with the coconut? I’ve been popping a chunk into my Vitamix every morning for a delicious and nutritious enhancement! Coconuts have plenty of good fat and are full of antioxidants, too.
I also sliced a bunch of the coconut meat into thin pieces and threw it into my Nesco Dehydrator (I own this one, which I LOVE = currently selling for $63.52 on Amazon). I now have my own unsweetened coconut flakes – and without any of the chemicals and preservatives you might find in pre-packaged varieties.
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I’d love to know if you have additional ideas for cutting or using whole, raw coconuts!