How To Crack A Coconut

Cracked Coconut & Juice

Cracked Coconut & Juice

Fresh coconuts are so much nicer than the dried coconut you get in the shops. I love eating slices of fresh coconut, but it's also a real treat to use the coconut juice in cooking. I even slice it really thin by hand and put the pieces in the dehydrator. It's so much nicer tasting that anything you buy in the stores it's worth the extra effort. I really can't go back to the stuff they sell in stores now after tasting this.

The tricky part is in cracking it. Here's how I do it…

Choosing A Coconut
First, a tip on choosing a coconut. If you find fresh coconuts in the shop, hold them up next to your ear and shake them. You should be able to hear the juice sloshing about inside. A fresh, mature coconut should have about a cup of juice. If you ever get an older coconut, you'll notice that there's not as much juice sloshing about, and it's not as heavy (because the juice has dried up) as a fresher coconut.

Get The Juice Out

3 'eyes' of the coconut

3 eyes of the coconut

There are 3 darker colored depressions (called ‘eyes') on one end of a coconut. Make sure you have a good grip on the coconut and have it sitting on a hard surface, concrete or brick is ideal. Using a large, strong nail and hammer, pound the nail into one of the eyes. It's pretty easy because the shell at those three spots is not a strong as the rest of the shell.

You should be able to break through the depression quite easily. Once you do, work the nail around in a circle to enlarge the hole. Make sure you pound the nail in far enough to pierce through the coconut flesh. Pierce the other 2 holes is the same way.

Now tip the coconut, holes down over a bowl or measuring cup and let the juice drain out. Make sure that air can enter through one or two of the holes, otherwise it will create a vacuum and the juice won't be able to flow out.

Once you have poured all the juice out you can drink it, or set it aside to use in recipes, like my Coconut Rice recipe. It's best to use it the same day if possible, and refrigerate if you are not going to use it right away.

Cracking The Coconut

Cracked Coconut & Juice

Cracked Coconut & Juice

You want to make sure you have a firm grip on the coconut. It will tend to move and bounce as you're trying to crack it. If you have a heavy, 3-pound hammer it will make your work a lot easier. Otherwise using the heaviest hammer that you have, hold the coconut in one hand and hit the shell with the hammer. You want to hit directly down on the shell, with a hard surface like concrete underneath it. Turn the coconut and try again from a different angle. Just keep working like this, at some point you will find a weak spot and the shell will crack. Once you have a crack in the shell, keep hammering along the crack to widen it.

Ideally, you want to break the shell into at least 3 pieces. This will make it easier to get the coconut flesh out.

Getting The Coconut Flesh Out Of The Shell

Prying A Strip Off

Prying A Strip Off

Take one of the pieces of shell, and holding it firmly use a strong butter knife to cut a line in the coconut flesh about a 1/4 inch (5mm) from one edge. The easiest way to do this is to hold the knife perpendicular to the coconut and push it into the flesh, then rock the knife back and forth a bit. Pull the knife out, move it along and do the same again until you have cut a line from edge to edge. Now insert the knife back into the cut line and rock the blade from side to side, prying the strip of coconut you have just cut. You'll be able to pry the strip off this way.

Don't worry if it looks like part of the shell is still attached. You can eat this, there is no noticeable taste to it. Just keep working strips like this until you have taken all the flesh off the shell. Experiment and you'll get a feel for how wide a strip you can pry off. If you are having trouble, try working on a thinner strip of flesh.

Eating Your Coconut

Ready To Eat

Ready To Eat

I love eating the strips just as they are. But you can also grate the coconut for use in recipes. To grate it, just hold the strip on the brown side and using a fine grater, grate with the white side against the blade.

So that's one way to crack a coconut. Tell me how you do it! Do you have any tips that make the job easier? Leave a comment and let me know.

DISCLAIMER: The statements enclosed herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products and information mentioned on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information and statements found here are for education purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of your medical professional.

9 Responses to “How To Crack A Coconut”

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  1. Lu says:

    So glad I found this post. I live in Florida and just brought home 8 large coconuts, had no idea how I was going to open them until I read this post.

    • Eat Healthy says:

      Thanks Lu, glad this article could help! Ah, I miss the coconuts in Florida, I lived across from the beach and there were coconuts dropping off the trees. The green ones in the husk are beautiful, but a bit harder to get into. Fresh coconut is so much nicer than dried. Do save the water too, it’s great in smoothies or coconut rice. I’ve got recipes for both, so give them a try.

  2. Soshanna says:

    I have just opened a coconut using this technique! It was great fun. I love the taste of fresh coconut water and flesh. And it is a great stress reliever using a mallot to crack it open.

    • Donna says:

      Hi Soshanna, LOL I never thought of it like that, but you’re right. It is really satisfying cracking the coconuts open with a mallet. Coconut is so healthy for us. Apparently the water has the same balance of minerals and electrolytes as our blood. It’s the perfect hydrating beverage.

  3. cal says:

    I love to bake coconuts I preheat the oven at 350 degrees, while I drain juice. With the holes facing up, place it in the middle of the over for 20 min. Remove using oven mitts- I place it in a brown paper bag, hit is with a hammer on the hole side, then the bottom, then sides. It falls out whole most of the times. Use a tablespoon to pry out the rest. I break it in to 2 inch pieces, store it in the frig and eat on it when I crave sweets. I love it!

    • Donna says:

      Wow Cal I never thought of doing that. What does it taste like? I imagine the sugars really come out in during the baking. I have a few coconuts here, I think I might try it today. I’m going to a vegan potluck tomorrow and that might be a nice thing to take with me.

  4. Ste says:

    Ahhh!! Thanks for this post, i had no idea how i was gonna open the coconut i had just bought…this post helped me.

    Cape Town

  5. Kitty says:

    Bake drained coconut at 180degC for 10-15 minutes. This softens the shell and warm juicy coconut is delicious!

    • Donna says:

      Thank you Kitty. I’ve heard of baked coconut, and that it’s delicious although I haven’t tried it yet. I’ll have to try it now 🙂