The detailed guide on how to open a coconut outlines steps for 3 ways, with and without tools, to get a coconut open and remove the meat.
The exotic coconut has been one of the most popular tropical fruits around the world for decades. But how do you open them correctly – and when is the nut ripe for enjoyment? This article provides information on the most important facts.
The coconut is actually not a nut but a stone fruit and it only grows on the coconut palm, which usually grows up to 30 meters high and bears around 180 nuts per year and is even a staple food in some countries.
The actual origin cannot be determined exactly, but it is believed that it first appeared in Southeast Asia. Today it is cultivated in the entire equatorial area, but especially in Indonesia and the Philippines.
Behind its hard shell there is a tasty, healthy core – the little effort to open it is always worth it!
Delicious and healthy
The coconut is rich in nutrients and contains mainly potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus as well as the trace elements copper, iron, zinc and manganese in large quantities. The coconut is also rich in vitamins B and E. As it contains a relatively large number of natural fatty acids, it is ideal for people who suffer from heart problems or arteriosclerosis.
Info: The nutritional content of coconut meat is around 363 kcal per 100 g and that of coconut water around 19 kcal per 100 grams.
The entire coconut is usable
Within the coconut coconut water and the coconut meat, which are both suitable for consumption. In addition, the healthy coconut oil is made from the pulp.
The brown, hard shell is often used as fuel in the growing areas. And the fiber layer that surrounds the shell is processed into mats or carpets.
Difference between coconut water and coconut milk:
- Coconut water – is the liquid from the coconut.
- Coconut milk – is obtained from the pressing of coconut meat.
How to open a coconut: 3 ways
These steps apply to open a coconut that is mature. To open a young coconut for drinking and to remove the flesh when it is still soft, see further down,
- First make holes in two of the three dents or ‘eyes’ of the fruit with a screwdriver (or another pointed object). Tap or hit the screwdriver with a hammer to pierce the eyes.
- Sit the coconut on top of a large glass or small bowl, with the eyes at the bottom. Drain the coconut milk through one of the two holes and collect it in a glass – the other hole serves as an air hole.
- When the coconut is empty, it is opened with a hammer – around six to eight targeted blows (around the ‘equator’ of the fruit) are necessary in order to makecracks in the nutshell so that it can then be opened or broken cleanly by hand.
- Now the pulp can be removed from the inner shell with a kitchen knife. Sometimes it help to freeze the broken pieces of inner shell for about 15 minutes to make it easier to remove the white flesh. The cold makes the flesh shrink away from the shell, and it becomes easier to lever free.
If you don’t have a hammer at hand, you can make the coconut pop on a solid surface or edge. Experienced people can even do it without spilling the coconut water.
Simply place the coconut in the preheated oven at 200 degrees – after around 15-20 minutes the coconut will pop open by itself.
Tip: You not should throw away the coconut water – it tastes wonderfully refreshing with ice cubes and is wonderfully refined with a little rum to make a cocktail.
How to tell if a coconut is ripe
If you want to buy a coconut in the supermarket, you should shake it beforehand to see whether it is already ripe:
- If you feel or hear the liquid when you shake it, it is ideally matured and can be consumed immediately – the more liquid a coconut contains, the younger and fresher it is.
- On the other hand, if the nut is absolutely dry, it is usually already overripe and rather tough.
How to open a young coconut
So how do young and ripe coconuts differ from each other? The young coconut is usually harvested around the sixth month and weighs an average of around 570 grams. The water content of coconuts is usually between two hundred and eight hundred milliliters and depends primarily on the variety, the country of origin and the season. Since a coconut contains a lot of sweet coconut water when it is still young, it is usually also referred to as drinking coconut.
But at this stage it still has little coconut meat. This is also called coconut jelly for fresh coconuts, as the consistency is still very jelly-like at the time. Depending on the variety and the degree of ripeness, the jelly layer is zero to four millimeters thick. The older the coconut, the thicker and harder the coconut meat, as it is formed from the coconut water. The ripe coconut is finally harvested between the tenth to the twelfth month with an average weight of around 400 grams.
In addition to the typical coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), which is known from vacation in tropical, there is also Cocos nucifera var. Aurantiaca in Sri Lanka. The botanical name refers to the orange-colored outer skin of this coconut species. The king coconut, as it is also known, is an exception, as it does not develop any pulp. In return, it supplies isotonic water that is rich in minerals. It is a bit smaller than the more popular green coconut.
When is the coconut still good?
If you get hold of a young coconut from the tree while on vacation, it is guaranteed to be fresh. But what about the hairy version from the supermarket? We’ll tell you a trick: Shake the coconut at ear level. Do you hear it splash Very good, that’s how it should be! Because the more liquid there is in the coconut, the fresher it is.
Warning: If you can no longer hear any liquid in the coconut, then it is spoiled and therefore inedible!
Did you choose a coconut? Then we will now show you how you can open a young and a ripe coconut in different ways!
Steps to open a young coconut
Young and ripe coconuts differ not only in their texture, but also in the way in which they can be opened.
To open a young coconut you will need:
- a young coconut
- a sturdy base
- a screwdriver or an apple stick, alternatively: a coconut opener
- a sharp butcher knife, cleaver, or machete
- a straw or a vessel
- a spoon or scraper
1: Remove the coconut blossom
If you buy a fresh young coconut on vacation on an exotic beach, the first thing you should do is use a knife to remove the coconut blossom by lifting it off. This is where the coconut is darkest and at the same time softest, so it is easier to open there.
If you buy a drinking coconut from an Asian shop near you or have it delivered to your home, you can skip this step. These coconuts are usually already peeled and have a cylindrical shape with a conical tip.
2: punch a hole in the coconut
Next, you’ll either need a screwdriver or an apple prick. If the coconut is particularly young, you should have enough muscle strength to drive the tool into the spot under the flower with your bare hand.
With many drinking coconuts, however, you still have to help with a hammer, the best way to do this is to use a rubber mallet. Then you position your tool on this point and gently hit the tool from above with the hammer.
How you can open a drinking coconut in seconds for immediate enjoyment only with the help of a sharp knife is shown in this video:
If you are a real coconut water fan and often reach for young coconuts, then it is worth investing in a special coconut opener. With this you can punch the hole in the coconut quite easily, but you also have to use force or possibly also use a hammer.
Attention: Such a coconut opener is only suitable for young coconuts and cannot be used with the brown, ripe version from the supermarket!
3: Drain or drink the coconut water
Now you can just stick a straw into the hole and drink the delicious coconut water straight.
If you prefer to drain the water to make a cocktail or smoothie, for example, you have to punch a second hole in the coconut so that the air can escape from one hole. As already described, you can punch this into the coconut opposite the first hole. Then you can turn the coconut upside down over a vessel of your choice and let the coconut water drain off.
4: Open the coconut with a sharp, large knife
After you’ve drunk or poured off the delicious coconut water, it’s time to get down to business. You need a large, very sharp and sturdy knife to open the young coconut. A butcher knife, cleaver or machete is best for this.
Now you place the coconut on a stable surface, such as a large cutting board, which cannot give way and can withstand a lot. Then you start chopping the upper part of the coconut with the pointed side of the knife. Be especially careful when doing this, try to hit it really well! Then you turn the coconut slightly and hit it again. As you do this, imagine that you want to knock off a large cap from the coconut. Once you’ve hit hard all around, the lid will either fly off by itself or you can carefully lift it off the coconut.
Important: The opening should be large enough so that you can easily access the coconut meat!
5: Scooping out the coconut meat
As soon as you remove the cap, you can already see the young, jelly-like coconut meat. You can then either scrape this out of the opening of the coconut with a spoon or a spatula and eat it straight away or use it for cooking.
How to store coconuts
At home, the coconut should be stored in a cool, dry place and consumed within a few days.
How to use coconut meat, milk and oil
The fresh fruit pulp of the coconut can be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen: It can be used, for example, in desserts such as creams, puddings or cakes or in salads and ice cream.
Those who like to try exotic dishes can refine meat, vegetables or fish with them – a curry with a creamy coconut milk sauce is particularly delicious.
Info: Coconut oil can be safely used for frying or deep-frying, as no carcinogenic substances are released when heated.