How To Open a Coconut

Coconut meat

Opening a coconut can be a difficult process if you go about it the wrong way. There are several ways to do it fairly efficiently (without losing any digits or destroying any tools). The technique you choose will probably depend on your available amount of time and the tools at your disposal.

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The nail and hammer technique. This is probably the most common way to open a coconut, and definitely the most time-consuming.

  1. Find the eyes located at one end of the coconut. You'll probably see three of them. These are the weakest points of the hard shell - they are your friends!
  2. What do we do with friends? Using your hammer, pound a nail into the eyes. You'll want to do this in a place where the coconut won't roll away. And be sure the force of your hammering won't damage the place you've got your coconut. Choose something concrete-hard and virtually unbreakable (or something you just don't care about!).
  3. Next you reap the benefits of your hammering. You might have broken into a sweat from your labor, but soon you can relax while watching the slow trickle of coconut juice dripping out of the three eyes. When I say 'slow trickle,' I mean it. Torturously slow? Perhaps. Let the coconut sit, eyes down, over a cup that's big enough to hold a good amount of juice. If the pace really is unbearable, you can try hammering a nail into the other end of the coconut. Have you ever held liquid suspended in a straw by covering the top straw hole with your finger? When you remove your finger from atop the straw, the liquid flows out the bottom. Same principle here.
  4. Did you enjoy the monotony of the coconut juice dripping? Well here's where some of your more destructive personalities will have a blast - bludgeoning the coconut!
    • Some say it's best to look for the indented crease that runs between the eyes and down toward the middle region of the coconut. Find this crease in that middle part and crack it open with a heavy hammer or rock.
    • Another method is simply to smother the coconut with a sheet or towel and crush, crush, crush!

    Both have their benefits. By adopting the first method, you can end up with a much more aesthetically pleasing coconut split into lovely coconut half-spheres. But, though the results aren't as beautiful, crushing the coconut into smithereens has its advantages when it comes time to get the coconut meat out of the shell. Small pieces can make it easier to remove the meat.

The giant knife technique. Do you have a large cleaver typically reserved for serious chopping? If so, then you're in luck - some serious chopping is indeed about to take place!

  1. Holding your coconut over a large bowl (used for catching the juice), find a crease running down from the eyes and into the middle region (as above).
  2. When you find the crease and trace it down to the middle of your coconut, strike there across the crease using the non-sharp side of the cleaver. You'll have to hit the coconut a few times in that region, but the result will likely be a coconut split in half.

Regardless of what method you choose for opening the coconut, you ought to have a space that won't be damaged by the force of hammering, and also the means to catch the juice. A spoon or other roughly flat prying tool can be used to coax the coconut meat away from the outer shell, but a thin shell-like layer will still likely stick to the meat. You can simply use a sharp knife to cut this layer off the meat.

Some recommend sticking a coconut in the oven and heating briefly to loosen the meat from the shell. If you decide you need the extra help getting the meat, just place the coconut in an oven at about 400 degrees for 15 minutes.


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