How to Open a Coconut

I bought a coconut because I dreamt of making coconut bacon. I figured having it in my house staring at me while I made breakfast was my best course of coercion. I hummed and hawed, I felt intimidated, how can such a delicious perfect food intimidate me, I’ll never know.

My friend and co-worker Rebecca sent me an instructional video. It looked simple I needed a hammer and a coconut, I got this. Oh no my friends, I did not have it in the least. I tried the seemingly simple method and failed. As you will see I resorted to a more caveman approach, but it worked, so I figured I would share with you my tips, tricks and now, new-found wisdom, of my coconut pioneerdom.  Later, we will talk bacon; sweet, salty, smoky and perfectly textured coconut bacon.

Step One

Gather your weapons!…… um, tools. You will need a sturdy and small blade with a pointed end, a tea towel large enough to wrap a coconut in, a chopstick, a glass to hold the coconut water, a cutting board and a bowl (container) to store to coconut in. Wait, did I mention you need a coconut yet? Well you need one of those too.

Step Two

Place the coconut on your tea towel on a hard surface. These little gems like to roll so you need to be especially careful in this section.

The coconut will have three dents on the top. Two of them will yield to pressure, one of them will not. Using a sharp knife, find the two that yield and use a turning motion to eat away at the soft exterior. Try not to tip the coconut because you don’t want to lose out on the water inside.

You may be able to totally clear the way with your knife but if not, that is what the chopstick is for. With the tapered end jam that inside one of the holes you have made to make a cleaner path for the coconut water.

Step Three

Drain the water. This one is pretty easy, once you have cleared a way for the water to drain, it should siphon out pretty easy. Turn the coconut upside down over a glass and let to do its thang. I shook mine once in a while because, by nature, I’m impatient.

Once it’s completely drained, set the coconut water aside. I don’t like the taste of coconut water so I mixed it in with one of my green smoothies and I did not notice it in there. Coconut water is kind of a health fad right now, it’s high in potassium and some other minerals I can’t remember. I do know it has been used in some countries as intravenous fluid which I find to be an amazing use of a natural resource.

Step Four

Back to the coconut; it’s time to do some cracking! If you watched the video above that Rebbecca provided me with, it looks pretty easy. You gently hammer around the coconut almost like you are hammering out longitudinal lines around the circumference.  When this failed to crack, even when I put in some extra effort I resorted to the towel and beat method which I’ll explain to you now. I have no clue if the tea towel you use will yield different results, but just in case, the one I used was a mircofibre-esque one. I think if it did help with anything, the exterior of the coconut stuck to it as the flesh separated from it. So if you use a different textured towel and this doesn’t work, please let me know.

Place the coconut in the towel. Gather all the edges into your hand and go outside and swing the coconut at something hard. You don’t have to ‘hulk-smash’ it, gravity does most of the work, I promise. The initial crack isn’t enough to do what you want. You want to swing about two more times to lodge the flesh from the shell. At this point I do a check and any smaller pieces or, pieces that have separated I remove from the towel and discard the shell. With any remaining large chunks, or flesh and shell-fused pieces, I simply repeat the bandaging and smashing process. The second and third time around be a little more gentle, as there is less work to do.

If at the end, you have smaller chunks of coconut left that are still fused together with the shell you can remove them with a knife which is my next step.

Step Five

I laid my tea towel over my cutting board to not damage the surface of my kitchen table.Use cation with this step as you could hurt yourself if you apply too much pressure and slip.

Think of your knife as a wedge. Slip the tip of the knife under the edge of the piece of coconut. Gently use a turning and sometimes a lifting motion to pry the flesh from the shell. Discard the shells.

Step Six

Your coconut is free, now what?

First I rinsed mine because my method tends to deposit shell-dirt on the flesh. Next, and this was the part I hated the most, you need to remove the exterior skin from the flesh. I used my paring knife and cut it off each piece. If you don’t it’s tough and bark-like and just generally not pleasant.

Once the bark was removed I then cut mine into thin strips as my whole plan for this coconut was to make vegan bacon. You could also use the same sized strips for toasted coconut, it looks pretty on desserts as Joy the Baker demonstrates here with her White Bean Bundt Cake. Or if you want something savory, try here for a Triple Lentil Stew with Red Quinoa and Toasted coconut from Kale and Cardamon. Depending on what you want to do with the coconut you can now process it many different ways.

You can use a grater or grating attachment on a food processor to shred it to use in desserts and curries. Try my Coconut Lover’s Cake or the this Coconut Tres Leche Cake with loads of toasted coconut!

You can choose to sweeten with sugar or leave it unsweetened which is generally my preference. I like to eat fresh coconut as it, but the flavour does become a tad sweeter and nuttier if you toast it. You can toast it in the oven with a careful eye, or in a non-stick skillet on the stove. Either way keep your eye on it cause it goes from golden to burnt wth a turn of a head.  Anyway you cut it, it’s delicious and good for you! Store in the fridge, it should keep for a week.


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