This blog post is brought to you with memories of a lovely family vacation I experienced just recently, in the tropical island of Barbados. We were lucky enough to meet and interact with some locals selling fresh coconut water drinks at a nearly-missed, secluded beach viewpoint. Keo, the “bartender” (aka Coconut Warrior), helped me in my quest for my first fresh coconut water with jelly. See, not all coconuts are young enough or mature enough to still have that deliciously gooby-yet-firm texture of coconut jelly. Though my first coconut didn’t have any, Keo opened me another one in the hopes of finding some. The second’s flesh was more meaty than jelly, actually, but Keo, realizing that I am coconut-obsessed, explained the somewhat-tedious procedure of opening a coconut. He also gave me a free coconut to try opening myself and today I thought I’d share Keo’s techniques with you so you can properly open a coconut.
You will need a coconut straight from the tree, a heavy stone or chunk of concrete, a large knife, and a butter knife. If you have a coconut with its exterior already taken off (such as that from a grocery store), scroll down a bit.
First, cut three deep slices through the exterior of the coconut, one on each flat side of the coconut. Smack the coconut against the stone on both its top and bottom. If the “peel” is still impossible to get off, you’ll need to throw the coconut on the ground (a driveway, a garage, an unfinished basement) a few times.
Use the knife to deepen the crevices you’ve already cut.
Then, use your muscles and pull off the three pieces of exterior/peel.
It’s tough! But soon you’ll have a…
Now, the goal is to hit a ring around the top third of the actual coconut so that you can keep the coconut water. But often it’s easier to just make the crack around the middle of the coconut…
And you can drink the coconut water right as you do this!
Look at all that yummy coconut water.
Yippee! The coconut is now ready for eating.
If you have a coconut with soft flesh (jelly), use a butter knife to scrape it out. However, if you have one with meaty flesh, which is common from grocery stores as the coconuts are older, you’ll need to use a paring knife.
Now for a few facts about coconuts:
- Locals can tell the maturity of the coconut based on its angle hanging from the tree.
- You can process the scraped-out meat in a food processor and use it in cookies or muffins.
- Keo’s advice: If you open your coconut only to find that it is moldy, you can process it, squeeze the meat in cheesecloth, and use the reserved oil. I haven’t personally tried this – be wary that you might be eating traces of mold!
I hope you enjoyed this article all about the awesome coconut!