Coconut has many health benefits. The fruit is rich in fatty acids, fiber, and other nutrients necessary for your well-being.
The fruit is obtained from the coconut palm, and you can use it for its water, oil, milk, and tasty white meat (also referred to as coconut kernel).
However, how to crack open a coconut is, without a doubt, a headache to many. The fruit’s external layer is quite hard, and it requires intense pressure to break open.
If you’ve been frustrated when trying to break open a coconut, then this article will offer you unmatched tips that will revolutionize your experience.
How to Open a Coconut – Why is It So Hard?
Cracking and opening a coconut is not for the faint-hearted. If done incorrectly, it can result in accidents!
The circular shape of coconuts makes it worse since the fruit cannot sit stable. If you’re using a hammer/mallet, you should be careful to ensure that the coconut does not roll away. If it does and you miss it, then you’ll experience a whole lot of pain!
Different Stages of Coconut Fruit
When we talk cracking a coconut, we’re referring to maturing coconut. This coconut has a tough outer skin that’s not easy to break. The other young stages of the fruits are relatively soft and comfortable to crack. Here are the three main coconut stages based on their ripeness:
- Fresh Coconut. This is a coconut that is freshly plucked from the palm tree. Its outer skin is bright green, and it is heavier since it has more water content. Its inner layer is relatively soft and easy to cut.
- Young Coconut. When you store the fresh coconut for several weeks, it becomes duller in color. Additionally, this coconut is lighter than when fresh since it has lost quite a substantial amount of moisture.
- Mature Coconut. Storing the young coconut for several more weeks leads to a mature coconut with a super hard outer cover. It contains thick and hard white meat and much lesser coconut water.
Mature coconut is the most common since it does not go rancid quickly. It does not require refrigeration and thus is more convenient for many people.
How to Crack Open a Coconut – A Comprehensive Guide
Cracking a coconut open is an art. Contrary to the beliefs of many, you may not require to use excessive force to achieve it. Here is a step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Draining the Coconut Water
Do NOT hit the coconut with a hammer or a mallet before draining the water. This stage is critical, and it will ensure that you get all the coconut water for your enjoyment. Additionally, you will prevent creating a mess in your kitchen.
To achieve this, you should:
- Locate the three eyes of the coconut (usually located on the rear end). These areas are the coconut’s weak points.
- Using a screwdriver or a sharp knife, poke each one of them. When you find the eye that gives in fast, you should insert the screwdriver/knife to drill a small hole.
- Turn the coconut upside down to drain the juice. Ensure that the hole faces the glass/bowl mouth directly to avoid spillage.
- Allow the coconut to drain completely (might take several minutes)
Step 2: Cracking the Coconut
Once you’ve drained all the water, it’s now time to crack the coconut into half to access the inner meat. To achieve this, you’ll need a hammer or a mallet.
- Place the coconut on a stable surface and ensure that it won’t roll easily.
- Hit the coconut repeatedly around the middle region (coconuts have an imperfect line around the mid circumference)
- Turn it around as you continuously hit the middle area. Repeat this until it opens.
You should always be careful not to hit your fingers. Do not apply too much force; instead, hit it repeatedly as you roll it, and it will finally yield into pressure.
Step 3: Removing the Coconut Meat
Now that you have two halves of the coconut, you should place them on a cutting board. You should then hit them repeatedly with a hammer to help loosen the meat from the shell. Ensure that you tap all over the shell area to remove all the meat.
After hitting it all around, you should slide a knife (preferably a hard one, such as Wusthof Butter Knife) between the shell and the meat. Repeat this with each piece until you get all your meat.
How to Open a Coconut Using an Oven
If you’re looking for an alternative to using tools when opening a coconut, then you should consider using an oven.
Follow the following simple steps:
- Preheat Your Oven. If you want to use heat to open a coconut, you should be sure to achieve more than 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the Coconut Into the Oven. Once you’ve achieved the right temperature, you should place your coconut on a baking sheet and set it in the oven. Allow it to bake for 15 minutes or until you can see a crack on the shell.
- Remove the Coconut. Once you’ve observed a crack, you should remove the coconut from the oven and allow it to cool for approximately 3 minutes. Wrap it using a kitchen towel.
- Hit it Against a Hard Surface. You should hit the wrapped coconut against a hard surface (such as a concrete wall) until you hear it break into pieces.
- Place a Butter Knife Between the Shell and the Meat to Separate Them. Ensure that you’re careful enough not to cut your fingers.
You can also use an over the range microwave if you’re in a hurry. Just set the microwave and heat the coconut for 3 minutes.
How to Use a Coconut
Coconut is one of the most versatile fruits you can ever come across. Every part of it is usable. However, the only edible parts are the meaty white area and the juice. The cover can be dried to make artistic items for sale.
Here are some of the uses of coconuts to consider:
- Drinking the juice for a refreshment
- Enjoy eating raw coconut meat.
- Make coconut milk (using a juicer/ blender to blend the white meat and strain the juice using a sieve to collect the milky liquid). The liquid is used in cooking and baking.
- Making desserts
How to Select a Coconut – An All-Inclusive Guide
Buying a coconut sounds like a gamble to many. It can be frustrating to think that you bought the best coconut, only to be met by stinking juice when you crack it.
If you’ve ever found yourself in such a situation, then this section is for you. We give you tips for selecting both young and mature coconuts.
Selecting the Best Young Coconut
Young coconuts have a relatively green husk. In many stores, these coconuts are refrigerated since they can go bad easily. Before refrigeration, they are slightly cut to reveal the inner meat and then sealed using a vacuum plastic sealer.
To select the best young coconut, follow the tips below:
- Inspect the Color. The inner meat should be white. The whiter it is, the better. However, a little discoloration does not mean that the coconut is bad. The top is usually the first to discolor, suggesting that it has gone bad. You should particularly avoid fresh coconuts that have turned pinkish.
- Signs of Holes and Splits. If you realize that the outer casing is compromised and has cracks, there is a good chance that the inside is also damaged.
- Light Press the Bottom of the Coconut. Pressing the bottom of the coconut with a thumb should not feel too soft. A little give-in is not bad, but when it feels too soft, then there is a chance that it has gone bad.
How to Select a Mature Coconut
Mature coconuts have hairy husks and are the most common. Knowing whether these coconuts have gone bad or not is a bit more challenging since the meat is still enclosed into the husk, making it tough to determine their whiteness.
However, you can use the following tips to select the best mature coconut:
- Shake the Coconut Gently. When a coconut is good, you should hear a good amount of liquid swirling inside. The more water you hear, the better. If you can barely hear the water sloshing, then the coconut is likely to be bad.
- Weight of the Coconut. Heavier coconuts usually have more water and are better. While this is more of a gamble, it helps when you’re presented with more than one option.
- Avoid Cracked Coconuts. Always ensure that the coconut is not cracked. Cracks can lead to contamination of both the meat and the juice.
- Check the Eyes. When you turn the coconut upside down, you’ll see the eyes (appear like weak hollow areas). Any signs of mold around the eyes are a sign that the coconut is bad. They should be clean and brown.
Many people think that coconuts do not go bad. However, they actually go bad! To avoid buying spoiled coconuts, you should follow the tips we’ve provided. This way, you’ll be sure to get tasty and healthy coconuts for optimal enjoyment.
How to Crack Open a Coconut – The Bottom Line
If you love coconut, you’ll opine that breaking them open can be such a hassle. The energy involved is enough to keep you away from this nutritious fruit.
We are here to ensure that you do not miss the benefits. And that you get the meat and the juice with minimal difficulties. This article outlines several methods that you can use to crack open a coconut.
Read through the recommendations we’ve made and watch as the otherwise tough assignment transforms into a fun-filled activity!
Chef Boniface is a graduate in Culinary Arts from the Institute of Culinary Education, New York. He has worked in several restaurants and is currently the Head Chef at Cavali Restaurant.
He has excelled in developing unique recipes and influencing the menu at the restaurant. He prides himself in sharing his knowledge at thekitchenpot.com where he writes about the best cookware for various recipes.