How to Puncture and Crack a Coconut Safely

Updated on October 7, 2017
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Athlyn Green enjoys discovering innovative cooking tricks and shares these with others.

A coconut with its super hard outer shell can be challenging to crack.
A coconut with its super hard outer shell can be challenging to crack.

Have you ever tried to crack and open a coconut? If you have, you'll appreciate what a trial this can be.

Opening a coconut is an undertaking that is definitely not geared for the faint of heart, and if it's done improperly, it can be downright dangerous: slip with a hammer and you've set yourself up for a whole lot of pain; slip with a cleaver and... well, you can picture the rest.

The round shape of coconuts adds to the difficulty because they don't stay put. They roll around and this can be an accident just waiting for a happening. Coconuts are extremely hard, as well. So you have a scenario that has "potential disaster" written all over it.

It is easy to become frustrated and impatient when trying to open a coconut, but it is always prudent to practice safe, injury-reducing tricks. This article discusses how to open a coconut safely: how to breach the hard outer shell and how to easily remove the coconut meat inside. Once one knows a few tricks, opening a coconut is not as hard as it might first appear to be.

Keep That Finger!

You may wish to try fresh coconut, but trying to open one safely is challenging. You truly take your life into your hands. A coconut's hard outer hull makes it difficult to get to the tasty interior. How the heck do you open one without losing a finger?

Coconut Prior to Cracking

Coconuts may have a hard shell but the eyes are the entry point.
Coconuts may have a hard shell but the eyes are the entry point. | Source

Step #1: Safely Puncturing a Coconut

How to Puncture and Drain a Coconut

Before you begin, put down a plastic bag or take your coconut outside, where dripping won't be a problem.

  1. Locate the Three Eyes on the Coconut. The eyes are the entry point. This is where you'll make a small hole in the coconut and drain it, prior to breaking the hard outer shell.
  2. Use a Blunt Object. Clean a screwdriver or a blunt nail and align it with one of the coconut eyes. Tap the handle of the screwdriver or the nail top with a hammer until you gain entry.
  3. Widen the Opening by rotating the screwdriver/nail in the opening.
  4. Place the whole thing inside a strainer to drain the liquid into a container.

Note: Coconut liquid can be used fresh or poured into ice cube trays and frozen for later use in recipes.

Step #2: Safely Cracking the Hard Outer Shell

Coconut Cracked in Half

Coconut neatly cracked in half.
Coconut neatly cracked in half. | Source

How to Crack a Coconut

Once the liquid has been removed from the coconut, you'll now want to crack yur coconut in half to get at the innards. But how do you do so safely? Once again, caution is in order.

Prevent the Coconut From Rolling Around:

  1. Place the coconut in a plastic zip-lock bag and seal the bag. This prevents the coconut from rolling around.
  2. Put the bag on a cutting board.
  3. Hold it firmly at one end and smack it at the middle point with a hammer. Continue working your way around the mid-point by rotating the coconut and smacking it until the outer shell cracks in half.

Cracked Coconut

Coconut has been cracked and opened to reveal the creamy inner meat.
Coconut has been cracked and opened to reveal the creamy inner meat. | Source

Step #3: Safely Removing the Coconut Meat

Coconut Pieces

Source

How to Remove Coconut Innards

The coconut meat will be firmly attached to the outer shell and once again, a little know-how goes a long way. You can easily remove the innards by taking the following steps:

  1. Place the halves on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at a moderate heat, 250-250 degrees until innards shrink.
  2. Remove the halves from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Use a spoon to break off the pieces from the outer shell.

Once the flesh is separated from the hull, it can now be shredded.

Did You Know?

A single coconut can provide a goodly amount of coconut meat that can be grated and dried for use in recipes.

A Word About the Video

Now that we've discussed how to crack a coconut safely, you are better-equipped to do this injury-free. The video below reinforces the tips learned in this article and provides a visual for those who want to see how this is done, but, as mentioned here, it is far safer to place your coconut in a bag before striking it.

Did You Catch the Safety Tips?

1) Use a blunt object to puncture coconut in one of the three eyes.

2) Prevent coconut from rolling around by placing in a zip-lock bag before striking it.

3) Bake coconut halves or pieces so that the inner flesh comes away from the shell.

Coconut is a Tasty Treat

Opening coconuts is relatively easy, once you know how to puncture and crack them safely. Once opened, they offer tasty milk and that lovely meat hidden inside, that can be shredded and sweetened and used to top sweet treats.

Shredded Coconut

Step #4: Dried & Sweetened

Dried Coconut: If you plan on using your shredded coconut for savory dishes, such as stir fry or with chicken, lay out the flakes in a flat pan or cookie sheet and allow to dry for at least an hour or two before storing in a container. Make sure meat is completely dry.

Sweetened Coconut: An easy method to sweeten shredded coconut (and the flakes are better sweetened if you plan on using them in dessert recipes) is to dry them first and then store in a container with powdered sugar.

Donut Topped With Coconut Flakes
Donut Topped With Coconut Flakes
Sweet Treats Topped With Shredded Coconut
Sweet Treats Topped With Shredded Coconut

Toasted Coconut

Toasted coconut can be so delicious and it's a favorite topping for donuts and other sweet treats. To toast your shredded coconut, lay it out on a cookie sheet placed inside of another cookie sheet and bake in a 300-325-degree oven until golden brown. Watch carefully and check after 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Check again, to ensure that flakes don't over-brown. If necessary, reduce oven heat towards end of baking time.

Mouth-Wateringly Good!

Sweet treat topped with toasted coconut.
Sweet treat topped with toasted coconut. | Source
A favorite marshmallow treat: marshmallows coated with toasted coconut
A favorite marshmallow treat: marshmallows coated with toasted coconut | Source

Have You Ever Tried to Crack a Coconut?

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From Tree to Table

An advantage of extracting the meat from a coconut and making your own shredded coconut is you control what goes into it. You can forego the preservatives and control the amount of sugar. If you choose to buy a coconut and want to use the inner meat, you can do so easily and safely by using the tips in the article.

© 2011 Athlyn Green

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