How to crack open a fresh coconut quickly and easily with tools that everybody owns.
How to Open a Coconut
Coconuts are a delicious and versatile food that is especially good when eaten fresh. You may shy away from purchasing a whole coconut, though, if you assume that you need a drill, hacksaw, and other specialty tools to open one. Fortunately, you can actually open a coconut with items that you likely have in your home already. Heating the coconut in your oven helps soften it enough that you can just whack it against a hard surface to split it open. If you don't have access to an oven, a simple mallet or hammer can help crack the coconut open. Once you have it open, you only need a knife and vegetable peeler to free the coconut meat so it's ready to eat.
Draining the Coconut
Poke a hole in the top of the coconut.At the top of the coconut, there are three eyes or indentations. One of these is usually the weakest, so use a sharp knife to poke each one. When you find the eye that gives most easily, insert the knife into it to create a ½-inch (1.27-cm) hole.
- You can also use a metal skewer or screwdriver to poke a hole in the top of the coconut.
Turn the coconut upside down over a glass.To collect the water from the coconut, you’ll need a glass. Place the coconut upside down over it so the hole that you’ve punched in it is directly over the glass.
- You can also place the coconut over a bowl to collect the water. However, using a glass that the coconut just fits over the top of means that you don’t have to hold the coconut as it drips.
- A measuring cup also works well for collecting the liquid.
Allow the coconut to drain completely.After you’ve placed the coconut upside down over the glass, let it sit for several minutes or until all of the liquid drains out. You may need to shake the coconut a few times to get last bit of water out of it.
- If you are planning to put the coconut in the oven to help open it, you must drain it first. A coconut that hasn't been drained may explode in the oven if it's heated too long.
- If you plan to use a mallet to open the coconut, you don't necessarily have to drain it first. However, you can wind up making a mess in your kitchen if you don't, so it's best to start with a drained coconut.
- You should collect approximately ½ to ¾ cup (118 to 177 ml) of water from the coconut.
- The water from a fresh, young coconut should be sweet. If the liquid has an oily consistency, the coconut likely isn’t good and should be thrown away.
Method 1 Quiz
You must always drain a coconut before:
Using the Oven to Open the Coconut
Preheat the oven.To use heat to help open the coconut, it’s important to ensure that your oven is warm enough. Set the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius), and allow it to fully heat.
Place the coconut on a pan and bake it for 10 minutes.Put the drained coconut on a baking sheet, and set it in the oven. Allow the coconut to bake for approximately 10 minutes or until you see a crack develop in the shell.
- If the coconut hasn't cracked after 10 minutes, continue to bake it until you notice that the shell is starting to split. Check the coconut every few minutes, though, to ensure that you don't heat it longer than necessary.
- If you’re in a hurry, you can also microwave the coconut. Place it on a microwave-safe plate, and heat it on medium-high power for three minutes.
Remove the coconut and wrap it in a towel.When the coconut has started to crack, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Allow it to cool for two to three minutes. Next, wrap the coconut in a small kitchen towel or rag.
Place the coconut in a garbage bag and hit it against a hard surface.With the coconut still wrapped in the towel, set it inside a large plastic garbage bag. Twist the bag closed, and whack the coconut against a hard surface several times until you feel it break into pieces.
- The harder the surface that you hit the coconut against, the easier it will be to break. A concrete surface works especially well.
Place a knife between the shell and meat to separate them.When the coconut is broken into pieces, remove it from the garbage bag and unwrap the towel. Take each piece, and wedge a knife between the shell and the white meat of the coconut to carefully separate the two.
- You don’t necessarily have to use a sharp knife to separate the coconut meat and shell. It’s best to start with a butter knife and only move onto a sharp knife if you’re having trouble.
- Steady the pieces of coconut as you’re separating the coconut shell and meat by bracing it against your table or counter.
Peel the fiber away from the coconut meat.After you’ve separated the coconut, there may still be some light brown fiber covering the white meat. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the fiber as you would the skin from a potato or other vegetable. Once you’ve removed the fiber from the meat, you’re ready to eat or cook with your coconut.
- If you don’t have a vegetable peeler, you can use a sharp knife to carefully peel away the fiber from the meat.
Method 2 Quiz
What kind of knife should you use to separate the meat and the shell of the coconut?
Opening the Coconut with a Mallet
Wrap the coconut in a towel and hold it.After you’ve drained the coconut, place a folded kitchen towel around one side of the coconut. Use your non-dominant hand to hold it so the part of the coconut not covered with the towel is in front of you.
- If you prefer, you can steady the coconut against a table or countertop. However, you’ll have to adjust it as you work so you can crack it all the way around.
Turn the coconut and tap it with a mallet until it cracks.Holding the coconut with the towel, use a mallet to firmly tap it. Turn the coconut as you go so you can tap against the entire exterior of until it begins to crack in half.
- A metal mallet tends to work best for opening the coconut.
- If you don’t have a mallet, you can use a hammer to tap the coconut.
Split the coconut shell and place it cut side down.When the coconut has cracked around the entire exterior, use your fingers to split it in two. Set the coconut down on the table or countertop with the cut side facing down.
- If you find that the coconut doesn’t split easily, repeat the previous step of tapping around the outside with the mallet. There may be some spots where the coconut hasn’t fully cracked.
Hit the coconut with the mallet to loosen the meat.With the coconut halves facing down, use the mallet to tap against each piece. That will help loosen the meat from the shell so you can separate the two more easily.
- Make sure to tap the mallet all over the coconut halves to ensure that the meat is loosened everywhere.
- It’s fine if the coconut halves split into smaller pieces when you hit it with the mallet. That can actually make it easier when it’s time to separate the shell and the meat.
Run a knife between the shell and the meat to free it.After you’ve hit the coconut halves with the mallet to loosen the meat, wedge a butter knife between the shell and the meat. Use the knife to carefully pry the meat away from the shell until it’s completely separated. Repeat with all of the coconut pieces.
- Be sure to use a butter knife so you don’t have to worry about cutting yourself as you work.
Remove the fiber from the meat.Once you’ve separated the meat from the shell, there will still be a thin, brown, fibrous skin on the outside. Use a vegetable peeler to carefully remove the skin so just the meat of the coconut is left.
- After the meat of the coconut is separated from the skin, you’re ready to eat or cook with it.
Method 3 Quiz
If the coconut doesn't split easily when you use a mallet, you should:
QuestionWhat do I do with the coconut meat?JenniferBlairCommunity AnswerYou can eat the meat directly from the coconut after you open it, or use it in any recipe that calls for fresh coconut.Thanks!
QuestionWhen I opened my coconut, I found a thick, garlic-like material instead of water. Is the coconut safe to use?JenniferBlairCommunity AnswerIf you notice that the water in the coconut is thick, oily, or chunky, it likely means that the coconut is old and no longer fresh. You should discard it.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I do with only a screwdriver?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can drain the juice from one of the "soft spot eyes" with a hard press on it.Thanks!
QuestionCan you open a coconut with your hands and can a coconut kill someonewikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMost people cannot open a coconut with bare hands. And, yes, a coconut can be deadly when falling or being used as a projectile.Thanks!
QuestionCan you drink the water from inside the coconut?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can eat/drink everything inside the coconut. Coconut water is even bottled and sold in stores.Thanks!
QuestionCan I drill open a coconut?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can, but be careful.Thanks!
QuestionWhy is a coconut called a coconut?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBecause it was originally thought to be a cocoa bean pod, but was given the name nut because when the name was created it was considered a nut instead of a seed.Thanks!
QuestionCan I eat the brown stuff on the outside of the coconut?Top AnswererNo, you cannot eat the shell. It is just like eating a peanut shell, or eating tree bark.Thanks!
QuestionHow do you know if a coconut is fresh to eat?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe water inside should be thin and sweet, not thick and syrupy. Other than that, it's hard to tell just by looking at the outside. A simple trick I've learned about buying produce from a grocery store is that most of the time, the freshest product is either behind or underneath the rest of the product.Thanks!
QuestionIs it possible to destroy a coconut with only a straw and my hands? If so, would it break my hands?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt's not possible to open a coconut with a straw. Trained martial art masters have been known to crack open coconuts with their bare hands, but if you aren't one, don't try.Thanks!
To open a coconut, start by poking a hole in the top of it with a knife and draining out all of the water. Then, bake the coconut in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or until a crack forms in the shell. Once the shell is cracked, take the coconut out of the oven and put it in a plastic bag. Then, take the bag with the coconut in it and bang it against a hard surface until the coconut breaks open.
- The juice in the coconut is not coconut milk - it's sweet water. The water in the nut is a naturally occurring part of the growing coconut and it changes color and taste depending on how ripe it is. Coconut milk is a processed product made by extracting oil out of the ground up white flesh, usually using boiling water. However, you can also make your own coconut milk.
- You can also open a coconut by throwing it at a rock This will crack the coconut open and you can get at the meat.
- Never try to bite open a coconut. It will not open it and will break your teeth.
- Don't put the coconut in the oven if you haven’t drained it. It might explode if it is left for too long and the water turns into steam, creating high pressure inside.
- Be very careful when hitting the coconut with the mallet. The coconut should be hit firmly but not so hard that you lose control of the mallet. You don’t want to accidentally hit your hand.
Things You'll Need
Glass, bowl, or measuring cup
Metal mallet or hammer
Sources and Citations
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