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How Do I Open a Coconut -- Easy Method to Remove the Shell From a Coconut

Updated on July 23, 2012
Use fresh coconut meat for easy and delicious coconut recipes
Use fresh coconut meat for easy and delicious coconut recipes | Source

Fresh coconuts offer cooks, bakers and those who love the flavor of coconut a taste of a tropical paradise. Oftentimes dried coconut flakes are substituted for the fresh flavor of coconut in cakes, cookies, brownies along with a wide variety of entrees and side dishes or even to enjoy as a healthy snack. Many people are deterred from buying a fresh coconut because coconuts don’t come in an easy to open package. The hard shell makes opening a coconut a challenge. Thankfully there is a kitchen trick that will open the coconut with ease.

Readying the Coconut for Easy Opening

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Set the coconut into an oven safe dish or baking pan. Pyrex or Corningware are the best choices.

Place the coconut into the oven. Do not cover the coconut – just leave it in the baking dish or pan.

Let the coconut heat up inside the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. If the coconut begins to singe on the outside before the 20 minutes mark, remove it from the oven.

Put on a pair of oven safe gloves when removing the coconut from the oven.

Keep your gloves on when handling the hot coconut.

Opening the Coconut Easily

Put on a pair of safety glasses. May seem a little extreme, but safety is important.

Pick up the coconut from the baking dish – keep your oven mitts on!

Set the hot coconut on a folded towel that is laying on a flat and level surface.

Place an ice pick or a clean awl on one eye of the coconut. There are three eyes on the end of the coconut. The eyes are fingertip sized depressions in the coconut.

Strike the handle of the ice pick or awl with a hammer to poke a hole through the shell.

Move the ice pick or awl to the next hole and strike the handle with a hammer to create a second hole.

Turn the coconut over, aligning the holes with a pitcher or bowl to allow the coconut milk to flow from the coconut. Be careful handling the milk because it will be hot.

Place the coconut back onto the folded towel and gently strike the shell with a hammer. One strike should separate the shell from the coconut meat.

Why Does This Work?

This method works because as the coconut heats up in the oven the coconut milk and oils present in the meat create steam. The build up of steam forces the shell to separate from the coconut meat. When the shell is struck with the hammer the shell with break away from the meat because of the void space between the coconut meat and the shell.

Safety Tips

Wear oven mitts to protect your hands from the hot coconut, baking dish and hot milk.

Wear safety glasses when striking the coconut to protect your eyes from fragments of the shell which may fly errantly toward your face.

Do not shell a coconut in the presence of children or pets.


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