What is a Coconut?
Want to hear something crazy? It turns out coconut is more like a peach than a pecan. In fact, coconut isn’t a nut at all, biologically its a drupe, or stone fruit, like peaches, nectarines, and apricots.
The coconuts we see at the grocery store are basically the stone inside the fruit. But instead of having a juicy pulp surrounding the stone in the center, coconuts have a fibrous hull. The hull is removed and used to make rope and other materials.
This photo from Sanctuary Soil shows the fibrous hull that surrounds the coconut.
Different Kinds of Coconut
Just like all fruits, coconuts grow from flowers. It’s a grassy looking flower, almost like a cross between amaranth and wheat in design. The coconuts start off small and green, like the kind you see pictured on bottles of coconut water. As they mature their hull becomes more fibrous and turns redish-orange. Coconuts are edible at pretty much every stage of maturation. The young green coconuts are soft enough to be cut with a paring knife, but the mature brown ones need something a little more heavy duty.
The dark brown coconut in the photo above is older than the light brown coconut in my video below. Both are edible and delicious. The older brown coconut has a little more meat than the young one, but the younger meat is more tender.
Buying tip - choose the heaviest coconut. A heavy coconut will have more meat and water inside. You should be able to hear the water slosh around when you shake it.
How to Crack Open a Coconut
You’ll need to drain the water from the inside of the coconut before you crack it open. Push down on the three eyes with your thumb. You will find that they are not as hard as the rest of the shell.
Hammer a clean screwdriver into the two softer eyes. Wiggle the screwdriver around to widen the hole, then drain the liquid into a cup. At this point in the process, I suggest you add a little lime and drink it all up!
To open the coconut, you’ll create a crack around the widest part of the ovoid, perpendicular to the lateral lines that run down the shell.
Hold the coconut so that the widest part of the coconut is vertical. Strike a hammer across the apex with the hammer fully vertical. The crack will form in the direction the hammer hits the coconut, so you want to make sure it goes around the apex of the nut.
Keep whacking the coconut until a crack forms all the way around. You’ll now be able to pull the coconut apart with your bare hands!
How to Pull Out the Coconut Meat
Nice! You just opened a coconut with your bare hands. To pull out the meat, wedge a sharp knife between the white coconut meat and the brown hull. Once you have a decent wedge going, transfer over to a blunt butter knife or a spoon. Use the butter knife to pry the coconut meat from the shell by wiggling it from side to side as you push it deeper in. You may need to create a few wedges around the shell and inch in slowly. The white meat should pop free from the shell.
There will be a little bit of brown skin on the underside of the coconut meat. Most of the time it's very thin and totally edible. If you want, you can shave it off with a knife or vegetable peeler.
What to Do With the Coconut Meat
Eat it. Eat it right away. Raw. It's the best!!
It's juicy, sweet, and delicious, but if you find yourself with an abundance of coconut this summer, head on over to my coconut pinterest board for storage and recipe ideas.
I teach people how to cook and eat real food with confidence so that you can have less stress, better health, and WAY more fun in the kitchen and in life.
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