Opening a fresh coconut is easier than you’d think!
I was at the grocery store one day to pick up a few things and saw a mountain of fresh coconuts right in front of me. Despite many attempts, I had never successfully cracked open a coconut and was pretty bothered by it. And because stubbornness is embedded in every fiber of my being, I had to figure it out. Or else.
I don’t know why it took me so long to make that happen. Well, I guess somehow in my mind it seemed like a laborious, strength-testing process. Turns out it’s not difficult at all! Here’s what I do:
Wash the coconut thoroughly, removing the loose strands of husk from the shell.
Find the three “eyes” at one end of the coconut. Probe a hole through each of them with a nail or screwdriver.
Drain out the liquid and save it for another use (drink it!) By the way, the coconut juice should be clear, with a sweet and refreshing smell. If it looks cloudy, or has a sour smell or taste, it has probably gone bad.
Bake the coconut at 350ºF for about 15 minutes and remove it from the oven. The heat helps soften the shell. Using a hammer, smash the coconut until it cracks open. If it is still difficult to crack it open, put it back into the oven for another 15 minutes.
Once the coconut is opened, use a small paring knife or spoon to remove the meat from the shell. I like to use a vegetable peeler to get these wide strips of coconut, which I bake on a sheet pan in the oven at 300ºF until they become dry and the edges turn golden brown.