Shredded coconut and coconut oil are both great products, but when was the last time you had freshly cracked coconut?! If you never have, you must try it! Fresh coconut makes a really great snack; it is meaty and contains a fair amount of healthy fat, which makes it very satisfying.
I can’t say enough about coconut and it’s great health benefits. And I think that fresh coconut might be one of the most overlooked foods available. Why? Well, it takes a little work to get into one….
The length of this coconut instruction manual may make it seem difficult but please know that it really is not. If you are like me you want to know every detail possible, so that is what I am giving you.
After reading this you will be considered somewhat of a coconut expert!
Feel free to comment with any additional tips or tricks you use if you are already a coconut expert!
1. Picking Your Coconut:
Most major grocery stores will have conventional ones. If possible go organic (usually at natural/health food stores).
Be choosy, not all coconuts are created equal. First look at the three dark “eyes” at the end of the coconut. We are looking for two things here: there should be no white/blue discoloration on or near the eyes- if there is that means it is moldy and you don’t want that one. (I almost always find several at the store that are moldy, so watch out.) Use your finger and press on the eyes. My perfect coconut usually has a little “give” to one of the eyes and will cave in a little with more pressure, but it is not mushy.
Next give it a good shake, you should hear water sloshing around on the inside. No sloshing = bad coconut.
Now if you are faced with a stack of good, fresh, sloshy, non-moldy coconuts, of course go for the biggest and heaviest one (they usually charge per coconut, occasionally some stores charge per pound- so do be conscious of this).
Also note that despite taking all these cautions in picking out a good coconut, if you crack it open to find that it is moldy or sour, TAKE IT BACK- get a refund or a new coconut.
2. Draining the Water
The water inside is wonderful. It is pure, it is lightly sweet and full of vitamins- use it in a smoothie, as a cooking water to make coconut quinoa, or just drink it straight up.
You will need to puncture the eyes to get the water out first so you don’t have a coconut water balloon explosion when you crack it. I like to use a wine corkscrew or a Phillips head screwdriver for this.
Two easy methods of draining the water:
A. One hole then shake method:
I use this when only one of the eyes is soft enough to puncture easily. Making only one hole creates a sort of vacuum in the coconut and you have to gently keep shaking it over your glass to get the water out. It isn’t difficult, but you do have to aim a little.
B. Two hole then drain method:
If two of the eyes are soft enough to easily puncture the water will drain right out in a nice stream when you tip it upside down.
3. Crack that Baby Open!
Fresh coconut is not only nutritious, but also doubles as a stress reliever! And again there are two good methods to do this, both require a striking device; I prefer a simple hammer.
Two methods of cracking the coconut:
A. The man method:
This is the way my dad always did it, and it is quite effective and quick. Put the coconut in a towel in your hand. Strike the coconut hard several times right in the center and then give it a quarter turn and strike several times again…keep doing this and once you get all the way around it should have cracked right in the middle (if it didn’t you probably are not hitting it hard enough and you might want to move on to method B).
B. The woman method:
Wrap the coconut up in a hearty towel, take it outside to the concrete driveway, set it down, and give it a couple good hits with the hammer. This should do it.
After it is broken in half, I usually then take each halve, wrap it up again and hit it more to break it apart further. The more you break it up now, the easier it is to get the meat out. I usually aim to break it into four pieces.
4. Releasing the Meat
Take the coconut shell pieces and place them in a towel in your hand and use a butter knife to pry between the meat and the shell to loosen the meat. Be careful. It should come fairly easy once you have loosened it.
That’s it! I like to reserve the previously drained coconut water to store the coconut pieces in. After I use all of the coconut, then I use the juice. If you want to use the juice right away, store the coconut in enough water just to cover it; otherwise it dries out fast. It will usually last about 4-5 days in the refrigerator. If I know I won’t use/eat it all, I wrap it up (not in water) and throw it in the freezer, or else I shave it and dehydrate it.