Cracking open a coconut can be a bit challenging, but with the right technique, it’s quite manageable, and once open, you’re rewarded with refreshing coconut water and delicate white coconut meat.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you, and in the video below, Chef Nge-Nge from Tea Garden in Mae Sot shows you how it’s done:
How to crack open a coconut
Locate the eyes and mouth of the coconut: These are the three dark circles you can find on one end of the coconut, and one of them is softer than the others. If you want to drain the coconut water before you open the coconut, you can use a clean screwdriver, ice pick, or similar tool to pierce the soft eye. You might need to apply some force.
Oven Method (Optional): If you want an easier time cracking the shell, you can heat the coconut in the oven. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C), and place the coconut in the oven for about 15 minutes. This step can help to crack the shell slightly and make it easier to open.
Hold the Coconut Firmly: Hold the coconut in one hand. It’s advisable to wrap it in a towel or wear gloves to protect your hand.
Beat the Coconut: With the coconut in one hand, use a heavy club or a hammer to strike it around its ‘equator’ – the midline between the eyes and the base. Rotate the coconut and continue to hit it evenly around this line. It might take several firm hits to crack the shell. Be cautious with this method. It requires a good grip and control over the force of your strikes to avoid injury or accidental damage.
Coconut Water & Coconut Meat
Coconut water is different from coconut milk. It is the clear, slightly sweet, and with a slightly nutty flavor. You’ll find the largest amount of coconut water inside a young coconut. As the coconut matures, the water gradually solidifies to form the coconut meat.
Coconut water is appreciated not just for its taste but also for its health benefits. It’s naturally low in calories, rich in potassium, and contains various electrolytes, making it a popular choice for hydration, especially in tropical regions. It’s also often consumed as a natural sports drink for rehydration, or as a healthy alternative to processed beverages.
You can drink coconut water straight from the coconut, especially if it’s fresh. In grocery stores, it’s also commonly available in bottled or tetra-pack form. However, the taste and nutritional profile can vary slightly depending on the age of the coconut and the processing methods used if it’s a packaged product.
The white, edible part inside a coconut is commonly referred to as coconut meat. It adheres to the inner walls of the coconut shell. Coconut meat can be eaten fresh, or you can dry it and shred it for use in cooking and baking. You can also make coconut milk from soaking and straining dried, grated coconut in hot water.