Friday, March 20, 2009

Coconut prep

How to open a coconut without losing your mind via the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. I prefer cookbooks that actually teach me something rather than tell me what to do. Read into that what you may. Since learning this specific technique, I create excuses to buy coconuts just so I can create a box of lovely coconut meat. FYI, coconuts do not grow in southeast Alaska so this coconut has a carbon footprint of a Chrysler.

This is all laid out, very nicely, in Martha's baking handbook (thanks, Mom).

First, you need to buy a coconut. It should feel heavy for it's size. You should hear the milk slosh around in it. It should not be moldy. The 3 eyes should not be soft enough to poke through with your finger. Buy the best coconut you can.

Go home with your beloved. It's ok to hug a coconut. I certainly do.

Drill/punch out the two softest eyes with a screwdriver, icepick, or, if you are an improvisational lush like me, a corkscrew. This takes some muscle, so don't cut yourself. Invert the coconut over a glass or bowl to drain out all the milk. Do what you want with it, but beware it is an impressively rapid diuretic.

Bake the coconut at 350 degrees on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes, or until the shell cracks. It will crack, and it may take longer than 30 minutes. Make sure the eyes can breathe because, to quote the Dirty Fisherman, you don't want shrapnel all over the place.

[I'm still getting the hang of this bloggy thing so I apologize for the missing photos of the above process.]

Remove the coconut from the oven, wrap it in a towel when it's cool enough to handle.

Be sure to use a non-fuzzy towel because coconut shell is tough to get out. Go outside with your hammer. I prefer an nice 22oz framing hammer with a steel shaft and rubberized grip. Then you whack the bejezus out of the thing, making sure to hit the same area of the coconut so you get larger pieces.

See how the nut is sort of splitting down the middle. (Apologies about the picture, still learning.)

Aah, that's better. You can see the nut (still covered with a papery brown skin) coming away from the shell. Try to keep the pieces as large as you can. Baking it in the oven causes the nut to expand, breaking the shell. When it comes out of the oven the meat shrinks away from the shell, making it MUCH easier to remove.

Peel the brown skin off using a vegetable peeler. Rinse the meat in the sink and store in an air-tight container between layers of damp paper towels. This keeps for a couple of days like this, but it really is the best on the first day. Behold:

How awesome does that look? You can grate it, use the peeler to make curls, or grind it up for fresh coconut milk.

Coconut is by far my favorite nut. It's the Bacon of the nut world. And you all know how I feel about Bacon. Ambrosia is for sissies Bacon is food of the Gods.


  1. What an excellent technique!! I love using fresh coconut too, but I use the old fashioned technique of trying (vainly) to saw it in half and then score/pop the meat out in small pieces. It is tedious and soul sucking, but isn't fresh coconut worth it?

    Now, however, I will be a convert. Next time? Into the oven with that bad boy.

  2. I used to do that too. I stabbed myself with many sharp things and always ended up gnawing at the shell/meat combo. This way is much better.