I wish I could tell you that I learned how to open a coconut while vacationing in Tahiti, or that I first opened one out of thirst-quenching necessity after a day of surfing the north shore of Oahu. . But I’ve never been to Tahiti, and I immediately run for shore at the first sign of a 5ft wave. No, I actually learned how to crack a coconut in my kitchen, through trial and error, after being lured by a full stack of whole coconuts at the grocery store. I had grabbed one and casually placed it in my cart, hoping my fellow shoppers would get a glimpse (you’re lying if you say you don’t peek at other people’s carts) and think I was the type cool person who consumed fresh coconut as often as a piece of toast. It’s real it’s me. Narrator: It wasn’t real. Let’s learn together how to open a coconut.
How to open a coconut
The first step
Locate the “three eyes” on the top of the coconut. Look at the coconut and watch it look at you. Use a metal skewer to prick and poke eyes like an optometrist and find which one is the softest; once you’ve done that, push the skewer through to create a hole. You may need to use a mallet or hammer to increase the pressure, but do so carefully.
Invert the coconut over a bowl or measuring cup to drain the liquid, i.e. the coconut water. Drink the water as is (it’s like what you get from a carton or can, only cooler!) or store it in the fridge for up to a few days.
OK, time to open it. Hold the coconut between a plush kitchen towel and, using the same mallet or hammer, gently hammer against the “equator” line on the coconut until the shell begins to crack in half. Once it looks like the shell will come off easily, twist it until the coconut halves separate.
Cut the coconut halves into small pieces with a sharp knife and use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer layer of brown fuzzy skin. Once the skin is completely removed, quickly rinse the coconut flesh under cold running water to get rid of any excess fibers or impurities.
What to do with fresh coconut
You lived to tell the tale! Now what can you do with coconut water, coconut milk and coconut meat? Make a pot of Yi Jun Loh’s One-Pot Coconut Water ABC Soup or this Turmeric Coconut Fluffy Rice. “As it cooks, the coconut water hydrates the rice without overwhelming the grains and gives it a smooth, delicate tropical cadence,” writes recipe creator Andrea Nguyen. As for the coconut meat, shred it into fresh flakes using a vegetable peeler or box grater, lightly dehydrate the flakes in a low-temperature oven, then use them for coconut macaroons or cream pie, or sprinkle them in oatmeal, yogurt or buttercream frosting.